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Gettin' booky with it.

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The Curse of Chalion
Lois McMaster Bujold
Jeffery Donaldson

The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country

The Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream Country - Charles Vess, Colleen Doran, Steve Erickson, Malcolm Jones III, Kelly   Jones, Neil Gaiman 5 stars for "A Dream of a Thousand Cats."

The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House

The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House - Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Malcolm Jones III, Steve Parkhouse, Todd Klein, Chris Bachalo, Mike Dringenberg, Michael Zulli A bit too disjointed for my tastes, but it had some really great moments.

Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes You know a novel is great when you cry over some missing commas and apostrophes. 5 emotionally shattering stars.

The Stone Angel

The Stone Angel - Adele Wiseman, Margaret Laurence 4.5 stars, rounded down.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Stylistically, this novel wasn't really my thing, and that is the only reason why I'm giving it a less-than-praiseworthy rating. The narrative style felt a bit too distant for me to really connect with the characters or be moved by the underlying love story. Or maybe it just didn't feel quite dystopian or sci-fi enough for me. A stylistic choice shouldn't prompt a horrible rating, though, and I was intrigued by the concept.


Darkfever - Karen Marie Moning 3.5 stars, rounded up.

From the Graveyard of the Arousal Industry

From the Graveyard of the Arousal Industry - Justin Pearson 3 stars for the Jerry Springer scene.

Saga #1

Saga #1 - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples I'm so hooked!!
There were some things that bothered me (sexist language, mostly). Many of the scenes were cringe worthy, and sexually explicit enough to make me blush. HOWEVER! The plot was fast paced, the characters engaging, and it was hilarious!

Also, Lying Cat. Lying Cat is the best.

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring - J.R.R. Tolkien I feel reluctant to review a classic like LOTR, because others have such strong opinions surrounding it; to say anything other than praiseworthy can bring about the scorn of dedicated fans. Still, there’s no other way for me to remember what I thought about The Fellowship of the Ring than by documenting it.

First, I want to make clear my understanding that the Lord of the Rings has had a profound impact on fiction, and in my opinion, defined the genre of fantasy. It is incredibly intricate and fully realized, even to a point of being tedious. At times its almost like reading an encyclopaedia or a travel guide.

I will also admit that I saw the movies first, and so going in, I already had expectations and biases. Strangely, though, I think seeing the movies kept a lot of the momentum going. I wanted to know where Peter Jackson got his muse from. I wanted to see how different Tolkien’s world was.

I’m going to say it. I don’t think that J.R.R. Tolkien is as great a writer as everyone thinks he is.

That isn’t to say that he isn’t creative or a master of plot. The mythology, rings, and monsters are genius. I do have some problems with his writing style, though. Sometimes the suspense is there, but often it is so bogged down with tedious things like poetry, lineage, and the lovely shape of grass blades that the momentum is nearly lost. I do understand, however, that the genre wasn’t really a thing before Tolkien came around, and so I get that he was establishing the beginnings of what fantasy is today. But fiction still needs things like ongoing suspense and a strong sense of the protagonist’s voice.

I’m going to say something else that to many will sound traitorous to fantasy. I hate Frodo.
He’s whiny, snivelling, and annoying. If I hear him say something about how heavy the ring is one more time, I swear, I’ll summon a Balrog. It seems odd to me that the ring bearer is the character whose personality is the least definable. Sam, Gandalf, and Aragorn, for example, seem much more concrete and easy to visualize. And more likeable, for that matter.

Despite my qualms, I did enjoy the first third of this (very) long novel. A lot of this rating is given to the impact that the story has had, and there is an element of respect I have to Tolkien.

4 stars.

American Gods

American Gods - Neil Gaiman This was one of the strangest novels I’ve ever read. And it really resonated with me. American Gods is a fantasy. Sort of. A murder mystery romance. Sort of. Frankly, it doesn’t really belong to any category. That's what's so exciting about it.

It begins with Shadow, an imprisoned convict, who learns some devastating news upon his release. Unsure of where he fits into the world outside, he accepts a job from a man named Mr. Wednesday. He goes on a road trip, and encounters strange things. That’s basically the gist of it. There’s an underlying plot as well, but it seems supplementary. The real magic within the novel is within the details. The strange mannerisms and allusions, the quirks. And the imagery is stunning, but also disturbing at the same time.

Halfway through, I couldn’t decide whether I loved or hated this novel. It seemed meandering and plotless. At the same time, though, it took an unflinching look at American culture and mixed it with twisted and sometimes horrific elements of fantasy and romance. The characters were offbeat and intriguing.

Somehow, the hundreds of strings all wrapped up in the end. I don’t know how Gaiman did it. I had abandoned all hope that the characters introduced in the beginning would ever be heard from again. It was gutsy, strange, and beautiful.

Grave Peril

Grave Peril - Jim Butcher I'm not sure that this review is going to differ very much from the previous Dresden Files novels I've read so far, but here I go anyway. I've abandoned all hope that a strong female character will be introduced, and won't be reduced down to her sexuality. I'm on the tipping point here. These novels irritate as much as they entertain. Female sexualization tropes are certainly not unique to the Dresden Files, but I seriously don't understand why they persist. They aren't original, so stop trying to act like they are!
But I keep reading them anyway. They're like an opened bag of chips. They were left open overnight, probably stale and absolutely horrible for me, but here I go devouring them anyway. Chip after chip. Page after page.

The Onion Girl

The Onion Girl - Charles de Lint This book had the potential to be truly enchanting. Unfortunately, despite having some beautiful imagery, it was clunky, the many many characters were not authentic or believable, and the dark subject matter was not overcome by the escapism that fantasy worlds are supposed to offer. I didn't feel the plot had a solid direction, and felt more like a sub plot than an actual story arc.
If I hadn't read De Lint before, I would have been very confused by the large, and mostly unexplained, cast of characters. Many of his other stories are interwoven with this one, but it was not satisfying for me, despite being a little nostalgic.
The world that De Lint creates is beautiful, as I said. It's vivid and full of magic. But that's only one part of a story. A novel needs a solid direction, and this one simply didn't have it. I'm sad to give this novel three stars, because the world building deserves a five.

World After

World After - Susan Ee While fairly engaging, this book simply did not live up to the expectations made by Angelfall. For the first half, Raffe and Penryn are separated, which does create an element of suspense, but it gets old quickly. (Not to mention that the reunion didn't really seem worth it anyway) The book tries to be so intense the whole way through that when the climax actually appears, it isn't really, well, climactic.
The ending was satisfying, but does not make up for the sluggish way that I read through the first three quarters. Let's hope that the next one is better!

The Drawing of the Three

The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King I liked the lobstrocities.

Fool Moon

Fool Moon - Jim Butcher 2.5 stars, rounded up.

This is a werewolf novel, with many types of werewolves. There are Hexenwulfs, lycanthropes, loup-garous, and others that I don't remember. Personally, I wish that Butcher had just stuck with the loup-garou. That thing was fantastic. It was a muscly, wolf-like thing that, unless trapped within a protective spell, could tear through towns like the plague. As Bob, Harry's potion-instructing-soul-guide-thing says:

"Usually, the poor cursed bastard knows enough to shut himself away somewhere, or to head out into the wilderness. The last major loup-garou rampage happened around Gevaudan, France, back in the sixteenth century. More than two hundred people were killed in a little more than a year."

I loved it. Pure, unadulterated, terrifying monster fun. With fur and claws.
Unfortunately, the loup-garou was the only thing that I really enjoyed about the plot.

Harry Dresden is beginning to grate on my nerves. He calls himself old-fashioned and chivalrous, but he is not. There is something that needs to be clarified here: chivalry is not chauvinism. They are not the same thing. It is not courteous to refuse women the right to protect themselves. Dresden believes that he has to save every one of them. That, and many of them are hyper-sexualized to the point where they have no personalities. This is especially true for Agent Deborah Benn, of the FBI. She's always ripping clothes off or gyrating against someone. Then she's called a bitch afterwards. Many, many times, in fact.

Tera has a similar fate, unfortunately. In a scene so absurd I actually laughed out loud, Tera takes off all her clothes and dances in the rain as a distraction from the police while Dresden goes into his apartment for some supplies. I kind of noticed this pattern in Storm Front, but it was small enough that I just ignored it. In Fool Moon, however, the pattern was impossible to ignore. Gyrating women dancing naked in the streets? Really?

Three stars for loup-garou only.

Deal Breaker

Deal Breaker - Harlan Coben I understand what other people like about this novel. It just wasn't my taste.

I really liked Myron Bolitar. He's hilarious. In fact, many of the colourful characters were likeable. But for whatever reason, I couldn't get sucked in. I tried. This novel was recommended to me on two separate occasions, and so while I was reading, all I could think was, Why am I not enjoying this?
I think this is more an issue of genre. I could really care less about sports and the corruption of sports agents. And there is a lot of dialogue about these two things.
I found the plot predictable, and even worse, skimmable. I skimmed the last half of the novel. Because I skimmed it, maybe it's not really fair of me to review it in the first place. But I simply could not bring myself to read another page. I was bored. Strange, when every ending is a cliff-hanger and the suspense was supposed to be nail-biting.
A lot of it felt emotionally stilted. The novel takes place three days after Myron's love interest, Jessica, finds out that her father has been murdered. She seems kind of upset, but not nearly as much as she should be. She seems far more upset by the disappearance of her sister, who has been missing for two years already, and her feelings for Myron. I found her unrealistic.
Despite my objections, I can see how other people could be sucked into Myron's world. He's really funny, and good at tae kwon do. He lives in his parent's basement because he likes their company. He turns into a blubbering idiot around the girl he loves. He's a good hero, with flaws and quirks. He even has an awesome sidekick.