Friday, October 4, 2013

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

This book has been recommended to me, and on my radar for a long, long time.  I am extremely glad I finally got around to reading it!

The Blade Itself is in some ways a typical fantasy novel with magic, warriors, and romance.  It takes the normal fantasy archetypes and builds on them in really interesting ways!  I highly recommend this book, and will avoid spoilers in the following review.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Prospero's Children by Jan Siegel

In which a young woman discovers hidden magic and another world.

This book is a really interesting, unusual, and compelling fantasy story.  I would recommend it to fans of fantasy, although discovering it has sequels diminished it for me a little.  More on that after the cut.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Series) by Rick Riordan

I am again reviewing this entire series in one go, because there isn't so much to say individually about the books.

These are really solid young adult fantasy books.  I would recommend them to most fans of young adult books generally!  They are better than the movies, so far, although I have enjoyed the movies.

Wild Cards (Series) by George R.R. Martin

It's been a while, but I have lot's of books to review!

I am going to address the Wild Cards series in one chunk, because there isn't a lot to say about individual books.  I got up through Volume 9 (Jokertown Shuffle) before stopping because the books became difficult to find and for other reasons discussed below. 

This review will contain spoilers.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bioshock: Rapture by John Shirley

Combination video game novelization and dystopian parody of Atlas Shrugged in which a new civilization is built that doesn't turn out quite as awesome as expected.

This book is a prequel to the BioShock video games, which I have not played.  It begins with wealthy capitalist, Andrew Ryan, recruiting people to populate his wonderful, new, underwater, capitalist paradise called Rapture and apparently bridges the descent of Rapture from perfect society to the setting of the horror games.

Warning, some spoilers will follow.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Demi-Monde: Winter, by Rod Rees

The Demi-Monde: Winter, by Rod Rees.  William Morrow, 2010.  517 pp.  978-0-06-207034-0.

... in which a young woman is enlisted to save the US President's daughter, who is trapped in a virtual world populated by Nazis, terrorists, and various villains from world history.

The Demi-Monde: Winter is the first book in a series involving a virtual reality (the Demi-Monde), set in 2018.  This virtual world was created to simulate urban warfare scenarios for US soldiers in training, and the programmers populated the world with "dupes", virtual duplicates of real-life people, famous and otherwise.  The computer world's technology is set to be comparable to the technology available in Victorian times.  The most prominent people populating the Demi-Monde are some the worst people to ever live, including Reinhard Heydrich (one of Hitler's right-hand men), Lavrentii Beria (Stalin's chief of police), Tomas de Torquemada (a prominent figure in the Catholic Church's Spanish Inquisition), and plenty of others.  The catch?  The people in the Demi-Monde don't know that they're not real; all they know is that living in the Demi-Monde is hell.  Unfortunately for the real-life humans who are spending time in this computer simulation, if you die in the computer, then you die in real life.  Somehow, the US President's daughter Norma has been lured into the Demi-Monde, and is being held captive by Heydrich and his lackeys.  The US Army recruits a young woman, Ella Thomas, to infiltrate the Demi-Monde and bring Norma out safely.  However, the rulers of the Demi-Monde have a bigger plan for Norma and all of the residents of the computer world.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley

The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley.  Little, Brown and Company, 2012.  978-0-316-19327-6.

... in which Myfanwy Thomas awakes with no memory of who she is, and must somehow return to her life as a high-ranking official in a secret government agency that protects the world from supernatural enemies.

Myfanwy Thomas (pronounced miff-uh-ney) wakes up one night and finds herself surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves, with no memory of who she is.  In her pocket, she finds a letter from her pre-amnesiac self, explaining that her name is Myfanwy Thomas and that she is being hunted by people who want to destroy her.  Following the clues from her pre-amnesiac self, Myfanwy Thomas gradually learns that she is a Rook for the Checquy, a top-secret British government agency with hundreds of agents, directed towards protecting the world from various supernatural threats.  Myfanwy's title of Rook places her in the very highest echelon of the Checquy, essentially making her a general in charge of all domestic supernatural problems.  Myfanwy has to continue to follow the clues to discover who she is and who is trying to kill her, while also preventing her dangerous colleagues at the Checquy from discovering her total amnesia, and while preventing a full-scale invasion of horrifying monsters attempting to take over Great Britain.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

After the Golden Age, by Carrie Vaughn

After the Golden Age, by Carrie Vaughn.  Tor Books, 2011.  342 pp.  978-0-7653-6460-9.

... in which Celia, the totally normal daughter of the two greatest superheroes on Earth, fights evil and finds her own way in the world.

Celia West is the daughter of Captain Olympus and Spark, the two greatest superheroes in the world.  Unfortunately for Celia, she was born completely normal, and her most exciting accomplishment is her silver medal from a high school swim meet.  Estranged from her parents, who were disappointed at her lack of superpowers, Celia now works as an accountant.  When her accounting firm is called in to work on the financials of the Destructor, her parents' biggest nemesis who is about to stand trial, Celia gets drawn back into the world of superheroes and supervillains.  As one of her biggest secrets is revealed to the world, Celia has to learn to contend with bad guys, her parents, and her own place in the world.

The Mindful Carnivore, by Tovar Cerulli

The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian's Hunt for Sustenance, by Tovar Cerulli.  Pegasus Books, 2012. 

... in which the author explains his reasoning for becoming a vegetarian, and then the ethics and philosophy behind his gradual move back to eating meat.

This review is of a digital copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Throughout his life, Tovar Cerulli has spent more time outdoors and observing nature than most people do.  His childhood gave him a deep appreciation of how each animal is important to the natural world, and he came away with a deep reverence for all kinds of life.  His experiences with fishing as a child also gave him an understanding of where his food comes from, and how it connects him back to the wider world.  As an adult, this awareness led to Cerulli becoming a vegetarian, and then a vegan, believing that it was unethical to take a life for the purposes of eating, especially when there were so many other options available.  Over time, however, Cerulli's further observations of the natural world led him to an understanding that his veganism was, in a way, separating him more from the natural world and was leaving him hungering for something more.  The Mindful Carnivore is an explanation of the beliefs that brought Cerulli back to eating meat, and back to hunting and fishing, and how his new lifestyle remains compatible with the beliefs that brought him to vegetarianism.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Annotated Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien

The Annotated Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien and annotated by Douglas A. Anderson.  Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988.  335 pp.  0-395-47690-9.

... in which Bilbo and company's adventures are annotated with notes about Tolkien's inspirations and the various changes between different editions of The Hobbit.

The Annotated Hobbit is a unique copy of The Hobbit because in its margins, writer Douglas Anderson has added in a plethora of notes and images to supplement the main text.  Most of the notes are about Tolkien's various inspirations, both in terms of plot and linguistics.  There are also various footnotes noting the different changes between various editions over the years, and illustrations are included throughout the book showing different artists' interpretations of the events from different international editions.  I'm not going to bother to summarize the plot, because if you don't know the plot of The Hobbit by now, then you probably don't care.

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