Sunday, May 10, 2009

Early May Book Reviews

I'm trying to cut back on how many books I get from the library, as I tend to read them more than I should be doing other things. So....

Beauty: A Retelling by Robin McKinley
I have to say that I thought this was nice, but it suffered from my having seen Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I actually have never read the original tale, but if this is a "retelling" then I hope Disney gave Ms. McKinley some credit, because at almost every step of the book I kept seeing the movie in my head. Don't get me wrong, I love the story, but, well. I think this was less ambiguous than Spindle's End, so, at least that helps, right?

Mistborn: The Final Empire, and Mistborn: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
After reading Sanderson's first novel (a one-shot fantasy), we definitely wanted to pick up his first fantasy series (for adults, because he does have a children's/young adult series as well). I have to tell you, he is well on his way to become well-known and quite prolific, and I expect to be reading him for years to come. Mistborn is very interesting in that the magic system (like Elantris) is very interesting. It's based on metals, or alloys, and the ability to "burn" them within yourself to use them for various purposes. He has interesting characters and some good twists. I really don't want to give too much away, and I have yet to finish the series (for some reason my local library does NOT have the final book!), but I suspect I will enjoy it. The second book seems more of a bridge, but still self-contained, in a way. However, I will say that while these books are considered fantasy, I can definitely see where it could work in maybe another genre, as well. (This particular world has a little bit of a steampunk meets the renaissance sort of vibe.) It's almost such a departure that you're not sure you're reading fantasy. I highly recommend Sanderson, and if you just want a good, quick read that just happens to be fantasy, start with Elantris, his first.

Heir of Sea and Fire and Harpist in the Wind by Patricia McKillip
I finished the Riddle-Master series and overall I liked it. However, while the language she uses to write is poetic and beautiful, sometimes it was hard to get past it to read the story. Also, there are quite a few instances where the character "realizes" something, but the reader doesn't get in on the joke -- which is odd because we get to see inside the character's mind a lot. The second book was from a different perspective, so that threw me off, and the third one had some chapters very akin to battle scenes that I tend to skim, although the twist at the end was interesting, but not completely shocking.

Chalice by Robin McKinley
Ah, an actually story from Ms. McKinley, and not a take on another one. It's interesting, because I read several reviews on this, and most people didn't like it, or didn't feel it was her best work. I actually liked it quite a bit, overall. I still think she has some issues with vagueness in resolving her endings. I want to know a little bit more on the why of something. I don't have to have everything explained, but still would like a little more. I thought the story was interesting -- basically every region in this book has an organization, if you will, of people with abilities that tie them to the land. It's headed by a Master, with several that work under him that make sure the land is in harmony. One of those is the Chalice, and, well, it's all a little hard to explain, but the story is of the new Chalice coming to grips with her own abilities, while dealing with a new Master of the land.

First Meetings: 3 Stories from Enderverse by Orson Scott Card
If you've never read the Ender's Game books, then what are you waiting for? However, if you don't want to think, and just want entertainment, then I don't know if you want to read these. They really will make you think about the world around you. And people. I think, for me, especially Speaker for the Dead (for some reason just the premise and story was very interesting). These are considered sci-fi, I think, but not tech heavy at all. Anyway, this is just a collection of short stories, one which includes the original novella that turned into the novel, plus some other stories. Read Ender's Game first, if you want.

I still have a few books on my list from the last recommendations made, unfortunately my library doesn't carry a huge selection and even the main library is lacking. We did end up getting a special card that allows us to check out books from other libraries that are part of a special sharing program. However, we still have to limit ourselves to nearby ones since we don't want to be driving all over the place. But, any other recommendations, let me know.


Christine May 12, 2009 at 5:08 PM  

I find that sometimes with McKillip, too. I love her beautiful writing, but sometimes it gets too much and I end up skimming some parts or I don't understand something that the book assumes I should.

I've been wanting to read the Mistborn books and now with your review, I do even more. My reading list is so long! *laughs*

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