Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So what gets a 42?

I've read it at least 7 times:  Piers Anthony's great fusion of magic, science and supernatural, "On a Pale Horse."  Genre bending,  mixing theology and adventure, there is nothing quite like the story of Zane, the man who became death.   A book you can read over and over and each time find something new about it - or yourself- that gets a 42.  Dune, it goes without saying, is a 42.  Another?  Memory, by Lois Bujold gets the 42,  with her works   A Civil Affair  and Curse of Challion  hot on its heels at 40.

Unincorporated Woman

To keep it short, when it comes to the Kollin's third volume, things seem to drag, and then halfway through you sense "oh crap, this is not the last book in the saga. 22/42 richmans. Epic, lurching. Interesting, but, well, eh.

Here, here, well spoken, Theo.

What a fun and effervescent read! Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers is a delightful start to a series that will call to young readers who are lovers of Edwardian England- or at least England of yesteryear, Egyptian Mythology, and main characters who very bright, but ignored because they are girls. With just enough action and fighting to bring it to the edge of Young Adult, the book still has a gentle manner about it, shielding the main character- and thus the reader- from too much angst, agony, or aggravation. The heroine may not resonate with everyone, but the book keeps moving at a bold pace, introducing its characters and magical rules as it moves along smoothly. 30 out of 42 Richmans. I'm surprised the Disney Channel has not made it into a series yet.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fuzzy Apples?

Joe Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation was a book I put down twice. Usually, once I pick up one of his books, I'm glued to it. Perhaps I have been reading a bit less lately, and it wasn't the book. I can't exactly pin down why I felt it dragged at the beginning, perhaps because the main character is a bit of an anti-Hero. But after having made it half-way though, I gave it a third try and was suddenly keen to finish it. It has a rousing finish, with a set of wallops that you expect from Scalzi. You may even think you have one spotted, and you will probably be right- but there's a payoff that will still delight you. 30/42 Richmans. The Land of the Silver Apples is a solid YA Fantasy book, with a rating of 26/42 Richmans. It's not a new classic of YA fantasy, but it has some really delightful aspects that make it worth recommending. I did not read the preceding book in this series, but I'll read the next one. As with a good bit of YA work, characters are not completely developed. But so what? There is humor, the characters do have substance and development, and the world setting is solid. The main character is somewhere between a druid and a wizard in a time when the world was between Christianity and older religions. Nancy Farmer did some delightful work, and a third volume, "The Island of the Blessed" will be on my list. I'll certainly add her to my list of recommended YA authors.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A discovery of chick-lit meets fantasy.

Look, I don' t know what to make exactly of Deborah Harkness' "A Discovery of Witches." Is it a bold mix of standard fantasy tropes (vampires, witches, magic powers) and romance novel cliches? Yes. Does that mean it's nothing more than "Twilight" for grown-ups? I don't think so. But even if that is the case, it is, bear in mind, for grown-ups. There's no sex for grownups- but that is the only area the book is not adult. There is a knowledge of the academic world that sets the story in a decidedly adult world. Can I recommend it strongly? No, but I want to. There is an amazing creativity here and some original stuff. There is a command of history involved here that is delightful. It works well in spite of reading like a romance a bit too often, and being afraid of anything that's more erotic than a kiss with a bit of tongue. Rating: 24 out of 42 Richmans. Recommended but with a bit of hesitation.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The ESB effect?

So is the Kollin brother's second work, The Unincorporated War, an "Empire Strikes Back" of a middle chapter? It's darker, yes, and intense. It does not have to introduce all the concepts and notions that it's predecessor did, which makes it free to grow in many ways, which often leads to pitfalls or predictability. But the Kollins take this Civil-War-in-space novel in strong creative directions, with both virtual and inner conflicts being fought along the millitary. There's good character building here, and in true ESB fashion the good guys are not sitting pretty at the end. 33.4/42 Richmans- not as thought provoking, but in many ways a better read than its politically astute prequel. Solid stuff.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I can't believe I read the whole thing.

Sure, in high school and college, a 1000 page epic was a great way to spend an afternoon (I was a much faster reader back then). But after Jordan and Martin's massive epics left me annoyed at their glacial pace, I was sure that Brian Sanderson's The Way of Kings wouldn't be a good read.

I'll admit I put it down twice, and the third time I got into it by reading the storyline of one of the main characters about 3/4ths of the way through. By the time I stopped myself, the storylines were starting to converge rather splendidly. So back I went to read everything else. Will I ever read this tome again? Nah. But I'll look for the sequel with keen anticipation. Characters that grow despite suffering, good quality world-building, and several nice touches such as lots of maps and artwork do get a bit mangled from one or two ham-fisted twisted at the end of a theological nature, but the work is still a quality read, and enjoyment comes quickly enough. Rating 28.2 Richmans.