Tag Archives: Book Rant

I wrote another review!

Here’s a sample.

Elisa is chosen by God, marked for an act of service for His people.

But she’s also the youngest of two princesses, overweight, and has never done anything remarkable. She’s sure she never will. And now, on her sixteenth birthday, she’s becoming the secret wife of the king from a neighbouring country– which is on the verge of war with a terrifying enemy.

Read more…

I had strong feelings about this book, and I had fun writing this review. Head over to Scape to see what I said! And there is also new short fiction and other awesomeness there to see. 😀

Go! Read!

The Mockingbirds, Daisy Whitney

Themis Academy is a school for the exceptional students. Athletes, artists, academics, they’re all brought in and placed in a setting where they can thrive. They’re trusted to behave in an honourable manner, The Themis Way, and they do.

Which is why, when Alex makes the mistake of getting blackout drunk at a concert and is date raped, she feels she has nowhere to turn. Who can she tell who will believe her? She was drunk, after all.

But then her friends tell her about the Mockingbirds, a student organization formed to enforce the Themis Way the teachers pretend not to notice any infractions of, and the slow process towards healing begins.

This book made me really uncomfortable, and probably not for the reasons you’re thinking of. I am an older sister of several voracious readers, and they’re always pestering me for recommendations. And as this is obviously an “issue book,” (Defined as the main motivating force for a book being written,) I was very concerned with how the issue was handled. On the actual issue of consent, why it is important, and how it is defined, (especially with the recent Sweden/Assange/Rape brouhahah,) I thought the book did an excellent job, especially since the court scenes allowed people to define their terms in ways which looks like tl;dr in most other cases.

But most of the book is spent in saying over and over that adults WILL NOT help you, in a case like this. Several times Alex says she won’t go to the Police, because her parents will freak out. Ummmmmmm.

I hope it’s clear why that makes me go all snaky. If it isn’t, clearly we are approaching things from different angles, and you should disregard this review entirely.

Granted, by the end of the book Alex had come to trust the “cool” new piano teacher, and comes to talk to her when she has an issue, but so much of the book was spent setting up the idea that adults are all in their own worlds that it felt like an aberration, rather than a eureka moment. I mean, one of her teachers actually has her act out an attempted rape scene. So by the time it got to the reveal that maybe some adults are not finks, I had already written them off, along with much of my enjoyment of the book, regrettably. The way all the students rally behind her is good, but the fact that only, in this world, people within three years of her age are to be trusted not to go off the rails for no real reason, made me pull my hair.

And then: SPOILER ALERT: There’s the issue of the boy she falls for over the course of the book. The romance is all very nice and healing, if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s on the board of the Mockingbirds, and is expressly mentioned as supposed to NOT be in any romantic setting with her. And then at the end: EVEN MORE SPOILERS: Alex is asked to be on the board of the Mockingbirds, who have helped her so much. And her first act is to give the boy an unconditional pardon and ask him to be her advisor. Because apparently the code of conduct when it expressly says, “no fraternizing with people under investigation,” was a grey area. This would have made me go even MORE snaky, if I hadn’t already marked the book up under “not very enjoyable to read.” Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up in a Christian, Military family, (you know those military sorts, so wrapped around the axel about codes of conduct,) but I just think that a.) that wasn’t a grey area, and b.) would it be that hard to hold of the making out for a few months? and c.) if you break the rules you’re very very aware of, shouldn’t there be consequences? /END SPOILERS.

So I gave it three stars out of five. I actually didn’t “like” it that much- if this was based on liking alone it should be two stars- but I do think it’s a very useful teaching book, as long as I made sure to talk about it later. Unfortunately, I’m a very emotional reader and I’m coming from a certain culture and background, so parts of the story swelled WAY out of proportion and coloured my whole experience of reading it. 

With that said, I know the author is a date rape survivor, and that’s why she wrote the book, and it was very well done. Alex’s reactions and healing process was painfully honest, and it ends well. I would like someone I know to read it, and so they can tell me how I was reading it on a bad day and I totally misinterpreted it, and get my head together! Gosh, Jasmine!

Yes, erm, I’m unsure how to end this. Live long and prosper?

Matched, Ally Condie

Cassia’s world is perfect. Everyone is assigned a job which suits their skills and interests, health care, entertainment, recreation and food are provided by The Society, and they live long, healthy lives. If they decide they want to be married, they are paired with their perfect match, selected from the many thousands of possible people looking for a relationship, and they live happily ever after together.

Just look at Cassia’s parents! Her mother was from the country, and her father was from the city- they never would have met without The Society introducing them to each other. And now, here they are, entirely happy together.

The story starts with Cassia on her way to attend her Match Banquet. To everyone’s surprise and joy, she is matched with someone in her own city, (no moving necessary!) Her best friend Xander will be who she makes her life with, which they are both delighted about. *^_^* (smily face of delight and shyness)

They already know each other so well there’s hardly a need for the data slip with the information about Xander, but since it’s protocol, they both take it, grinning, and then go home to their lives. Everything has worked out even better than they could have hoped for. It’s perfect!

Only, when Cassia goes to look at what The Society has to tell her about Xander, (heh heh heh,) another face flashes on the screen. And again, this is a boy that she knows. Ky, also one of her friends, who also lives on her street, who she also went to school with. She’s reassured that it was just a glitch in the system, which is great, but wait. There are glitches in the system?

The seed has been sown, and Cassia has started to question. She begins to question harder, with more anger, when her grandfather comes to the end of his long and productive life, and dies on his 80th birthday. (Everyone dies on their 80th Birthday.)

Okay, I want to tell you more about this story, but I’m going to stop now, because you deserve to see it unfold with all the well measured care that the author wrote it. I was very impressed with this story, the more so because the only full length review I had read of it said it was internally incoherent and spent too much time explaining the world building. Which I disagree with. ^_^

I thought the voice of the book, as narrated by Cassia, captured her emotional arc wonderfully. At first she’s parroting what she’s been told, (“Everything is perfect!”) and then she’s repeating it desperately, (“This is all good, right?”) and then she’s mocking it, (“Oh, yes, you have our best interests at heart, of COURSE!”) and then she’s just at sea as to what she does next. What do you do to escape in a world where they track your dreams every fourth night? I was particularly impressed because usually I do not notice things like voices of narrators. I’m all GET ME TO THE EXPLOSIONS. GRRR, WHY ARE THINGS NOT ON FIRE?

*cough*

Instead, this time I was able to very happily follow along with the more delicately agonizing realizations Cassia is coming to, and what that means to her. And while I’m talking about the voice, I have to mention that there were three times in the book where I just stopped, amazed at how poetically Ms. Condie managed to phrase the moments of wrenching revelation. And using simple words, too! I mean, the reading level for the book can’t be that high, in terms of vocabulary. It’s “narrated” by someone who lives in a world where art has been simplified down to 100 of everything. And working with simple words, I was still stopped in my reading tracks several times.

Any time a book effects me that much, I am impressed.

And also there were trains and a secret war and sorting things and a strong family which you give up things for. All stories that delight me. You should read this book.

I gave it four stars out of five. I’ll be looking for the sequel. Can I have it now, please?

Victory Of Eagles, Naomi Novik

It might be a reflection on my character that it took an alternate history to make me care about the Napoleonic war. But let me tell you, in this story I CARED. I had to bold that to give you the full effect. I got a bit emotional about it.
*coughs*
*Looks at Team Duke of Wellington t-shirt.*
Just a bit emotional.

And yes, the story. Because of reasons in the last book which I’m not going to tell you about, Lawrence and Temeraire are separated. Lawrence is in a jail until further notice, waiting trial for treason. Temeraire is in Wales, chatting up the ladies. IF you know what I mean, and I think you do. Heh.

And then the Eagles land. Eagles, in this case, referring to the standards of Napoleon’s army, which just came ashore in force. WHERE IS YOUR HONOUR NOW? England is being routed, because let’s face it, the generals are just not quite working on the same level as the French Army. For example, I might not think the most appropriate response to an invading force is to stand around talking how awesome you are and how he’s going to turn back at the first battle, but possibly that’s just me. And we didn’t really want London, did we? Nah, that just took up too much space anyhow. Scotland is much nicer! Breezy!

And I gave this book five stars out of five. I know that seems excessive, give what I rated the ones just before- but hey, I told you I was fickle. I just DELIGHTED in all of this one. ^_^ I loved how finally we got to talk to Dragons other than Temeraire, and all the politics he had to confront and overcome. I especially liked the overcoming, because I’m- just that way. I like to read about people being awesome, is that so wrong? No, no it is not. And while Lawrence’s arc made me shrivel up and die inside, it was good for him, I think. Yes, I think of Lawrence chiefly in a motherly way, is that so wrong? And again we say no, it is not wrong.

Let’s see, I loved how basically everyone grew a pair and was AMAZING in this book. Including in some cases, growing a pair of consciences, for the empathizing, or a pair of frontal lobes, for the thinking. And the final battle. Oh, the final battle was DELICIOUS.

P.S. I’m sorry this is so incoherent. I don’t want to really spoil anything? It just made me happy, that’s all! You should read it.

Empire of Ivory, Naomi Novik

So I go back to my May drafts, and LO AND BEHOLD. This one isn’t written, much less published. Face, meet palm.

Now in the last book, a lot of spoilery stuff happened. Which I’m not going to tell you about. I’m saving my spoilery reviews for the next book. 😀 Heh. Heh. Heh.

Anyways, just about right after Temeraire and the crew left for China in book two, dragons in England started coughing and sneezing. Which fast acquires the tone of a national emergency when the dragons just don’t get better. Instead they start drowning in their own lungs, and did I mention they have no medicine for dragons? Yeah. Bad times when your air force is all in-operational. That is, at least, how the powers that be see it. The dragon crews we’ve all come to know and love see it, naturally, in a bit more of a personal light. “Our friends are dying and we can’t do anything about it.”

 In pure desperation, Temeraire and some other dragons we know and love are sent to Africa. So that maybe they’ll find medicine? Or maybe the climate will cure the cough? Or maybe- something. Quarantine?

There is a real sense of desperation behind this trip. And to my mind, it never really lifts off. There’s barely a purpose, people are just eating things madly, running away, sailing endlessly, despairing and dying. You know. The general cheerful stuff. There is some nice things about Africa, but I didn’t enjoy that as much as my friends. Possibly because I found it kinda super creepy. Ahem. Though on the other hand, telling the giant meat-eating-but-intelligent beast that he’s related to you, and you don’t eat your family,  DOES seem like a pretty good idea. However, Lawrence just tired me, and the girls were awkward, and Temeraire was painfully innocent, and the only ones who were awesome were the crews. And I read books like this for the awesome people! So I gave it three stars out of five.

Black Powder War, Naomi Novik

Note: I thought I had this reviewed in May. FAIL. TERRIBLE FAIL.

So in the last book, our jolly crew started heading home from Asia. Everyone is VERY happy to be free of the political machinations of the Chinese Court- BUT LOOK, over there in the hills! Yep, that is Ms. Political Machinations herself, Lien, the white dragon. How will they get home NOW?

Most of the book, at least the way I remember it, deals with decent people getting caught up in dishonourable politics, and what happens when technology changes. With Lien *Spoiler* teaming up with Napoleon *End!Spoiler* the game has shifted mightily. Now everyone is dealing with brilliant tacticians who just aren’t thinking in ways they’re used to. And if they’re not prepared to change the way THEY deal? Well- there’s the ocean. Armies are traditionally run into it right about now. Do you have your escape armada lined up?

While this book was interesting, and I enjoyed it… I gave it three stars out of five. It just didn’t have the crackly magic of the first Temeraire book. It was better than the second, that’s for sure! But not by a whole lot. Plus, it was just DEPRESSING. Hello, here’s a war- I mean a rout. Sigh.

How To Train Your Dragon, Cressidia Cowell

I’m gonna steal the description from Goodreads, because it’s said better than all the ones I was working on.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was a truly extraordinary Viking Hero. Warrior chieftain, awesome sword-fighter and amateur naturalist, he was known throughout Vikingdom as ‘The Dragon Whisperer’, on account of his amazing power over these terrifying beasts.

But it wasn’t always like that. In fact, in the beginning, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was the most put upon Viking you’d ever seen. Not loud enough to make himself heard at dinner with his father, Stoick the Vast, not hard enough to beat his chief rival, Snotlout, at Bashyball, the number one school sport, and Certainly not stupid enough to go into a cave full of dragons to find a pet…

You see the sticker over there that says to read the book before you watch the movie? Yeah. It’s a good idea. Because if you expect the same story on either hand, you will NOT get it. For one thing, this book has no girls. (Contra to the movie, where the main characters are Toothless, Astrid, Hiccup and Stoick.) For another, Hiccup’s relationship with his schoolmates is severely different. Also, the dragon-Viking dynamic is almost entirely opposite to the movie. That’s not to say either one is bad, they’re just really not at all the same story.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way. 😀 In the book, dragons are working animals, and training one is an integral part of a young Viking Hero’s education. Only Hiccup is USELESS at training dragons. He tries to TALK to his dragon instead of shouting at it, (mainly because he can’t yell loud enough to do any good,) his dragon is the size of a teacup anyways, and said dragon has a bad attitude problem. If he can’t turn things around, he’s gonna end up banished. Hmmm, I said I was going to steal the GoodReads description, and then I wrote my own. Well done, me. ANYHOW.

I did like this book quite a lot. And I especially liked the things in that I was not expecting. You see, I saw that this was an adventure book and that the MC was a bit of a nerd, and I said to myself “oh right, he’s going to be hated by everyone.” But no! He has a friend. Or a partner in being hated, but they have each other’s backs. And I thought that his dad was going to be a lolstupid oaf who NEVER UNDERSTANDS HIS KIDS. And while he didn’t understand, that wasn’t because he was stupid or uncaring, which is a a pre-conception I had about this sort of “prove yourself” book. Instead, it was because he was so well-meaning that things went pear-shaped.

Oh, also I CHORTLED over “This isn’t a democracy! What do you think this is, the Republic of ROME? We’re Vikings!”

And I gave it four stars out of five. A lot of fun. 😀

Unnatural Death, Dorothy L. Sayers

“Ohmigod. Damn. Double rainbow. So intense.”

I presume you’ve seen the video. You know, the guy who’s crying over the rainbow? That is just about the emotional reaction I had to this book. It’s so beautiful… What does it mean?

Ahem.

I used to read mysteries with obsessive, almost irrational hunger. Then I moved into reading Fantasy and writing SF, but that’s another story. What I am talking about is Mysteries.

I’ve read a lot of them.

Until the read-a-thon, I had never read a Lord Peter Whimsey mystery.

This is a criminaloversight. Which I will fix as soon as possible. (Hint: Christmas is coming. The goose getting fat. Please to put a book in the ageless woman’s hat.)

So yes, the book.

It is the third in the series, but I read it with minimal confusion as to who was who. You just dive right into post-war London and environs. Where Lord Peter, who quotes EVERYTHING, is wandering around looking useless and being a genius, his butler is being AWESOME, (seriously, I think the man only had one scene, but I had to do my delighted dance and read it aloud,) the police are being SRYS BYSNS, and the spinster writer who he employs to spy for him, whose name I have forgotten because I thought of her as Maureen Johnson, is off being Catholic and hardcore. (Seriously, it was like a Maureen Johnson cameo. Only written 80 years before mj became the darling of Twitter. TIME TRAVEL?) And there were Lawyers, being delighted and fascinated by words in laws. I like words, so this pleased me. Also, there are a lot of LADIES doing THINGS in this book. Being one myself, I approve of them becoming more than Damsels in Distress or Moral Compasses in stories. And here they were, being Evil, and Stupid, and Clever, and Moral, and Rebellious, and Good, and all sorts of lovely things. (Hint: Christmas is coming.)

The actual murder was delightfully clever, to start. You see, they weren’t actually sure that it WAS a murder until the end of the book. It was only a terribly convenient death, with some suspicious circumstances. But when they started investigating, other people started dying mysteriously too. By the end of the book, the murderer was getting quite sloppy. But we still weren’t sure HOW people were dying until the end.

So yes. I want marry Lord Peter. I gave it four stars out of five. No big deal.

Star Wars: 501st, Karen Traviss

I said I would review everything I read for the read-a-thon. But next year I’m not going to do that, because when that is just not fair to the book. I mean, I barely remember this one. I started reading it at about three in the morning? And most of the book I spent my time propping my eyes open and muttering “where are the EXPLOSIONS?” at the page. (Hint: there were not as many explosions as I’d like.)

The idea behind the book, as best as I can figure out, is that Order 66 ended, and millions of nerds cried out and said, BUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? They were given this book to silence them. The issue with that, is that I do believe that Order 66 finished off all the plot threads quite nicely. I mean yes, there were things hanging, but they were aesthetically pleasing things. In a terrible way.

I mean yes, there were people killed and others were left in terrible no-win situations. But the story WORKED. That was a good ending point. Now in this book, most of the text is spent on people thinking about the meaning of things, from a religious, moral or ethical perspective. Which might be fine, I was just OUT OF IT when I read the book, (and now when I’m writing this. Symmetry! Hah!)

When I pick up a book with Storm Troopers on the front, I want a heavy dose of action and plot. Regrettably for that idea, Ms. Traviss has spent much of the previous series writing the Imperial Commandos to be darn near indestructible genius demi-gods. So just breaking a few people out of triple zero isn’t such a much. So just to fill up the PAGE COUNT, you need the endless soul-searching. So maybe more flaws would have been good? Or less of a stupid enemy? I dunno. I gave it two stars out of five. I shan’t worry about the characters any more.

The Deadlies: Felix Takes The Stage, Kathryn Lasky

This is another book I read during the readathon. At the time that I read it I had already been reading for 21 hours and it was six in the morning. And now since then said sister has brought it back to the library. So i’m working from my (very fuzzy) memory.

Felix is one of a family of well mannered, loving Deadly Recluse spiders who happen to be super toxic, and they live in the symphony hall. He has an artistic soul! All he wants is to be accepted and to create! All he wants is to take a ride on the conductor’s baton!

One quick attempt at a ride later, the conductor is being treated for a heart attack, Felix is regrowing a leg, and the Deadlies are looking for a new home, due to their previous home being the domain of exterminators now. Will they ever find a place where they can live without persecution? Will Felix ever find a place where he fits?

I was very confused by the book. I’ll be honest. There was a mom spider, and two sisters I couldn’t keep straight, and Felix. I think what Felix wanted was to not be an introvert, but that is so far outside of my comprehension that I was still going HUHHHH????? The whole time. Also, Mom was all worked up about kindergartens and her children being teased despite being super toxic? Like I said, I was confused. There was a lot of stuff about acceptance, but I just focused on the search for a house, since I could understand that. And that was rather fun, the dramatic cross-coutnry trip, including movies. ^_^

However, the book was fun, and it had fun pictures. 😀 It was exactly what I wanted at that hour. So I gave it three stars out of five.