I’ve been doing lots and lots of reading over the last two weeks. Well, I mean, it’s been dang cold, and we don’t have central heating in our house again this winter. So what else is a girl to do, except come home, turn on the space heater in the bedroom, crawl under the covers, and read? Okay, yeah, I can think of other things too, but no. I’ve been reading.
Here’s what I’ve read:
Everworld: Search for Senna, K.A. Applegate (Book 1)
Everworld: Land of Loss, K.A. Applegate (Book 2)
Everworld: Discover the Destroyer, K.A. Applegate (Book 5)
I understand there are 12 volumes in the Everworld series. They’re interesting enough that I want to read them, but not interesting enough that I want to pay full price for them. So as I find them for 50 cents or $1 at the thrift stores, I’ll pick them up to read. Basically a group of 5 teens, one of whom is allegedly a witch, find themselves in Everworld, a world created by the human gods who got tired of living in our world. And, because the gods are nothing without people to worship them, there are a variety of humans as well. But there are also aliens and other non-human gods. Four of the teenagers are living simultaneously in Everworld and in the real world, and they’re desperately trying to find the fifth teen and find their way home.
by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes:
In the Forests of the Night
Hawksong: The Kiesha’ra: Volume One
Snakecharm: The Kiesha’ra: Volume Two
Demon in My View
I found the first book Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote, In the Forests of the Night, on the clearance rack at Half-Price Books, for 50 cents. It was well worth that and more. I think I mentioned it here previously, but she was 13 when she wrote it and 14 when it was published. She has since written and published quite a few more. I’ve got about half of them now, and plan to have the rest before this year is out. She’s a fine writer. Each book has gotten better and better. I particularly enjoy the Keisha’ra series.
Spider Dance, Carole Nelson Douglas. Carole Nelson Douglas has dabbled in several genres, fantasy, mystery, and sci fi. This series involves Irene Adler and Sherlock Holmes. It’s fun–I liked the story and the characters. I’m planning to try to track down the others in the series and read them. I found this to be much better than her Midnight Louie books.
Bloody Bones, Laurell K. Hamilton. The blurb on one of her Anita Blake books describes them as “An R-Rated version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Uh, no. Pas de tout. I don’t particularly care for Ms. Hamilton’s vampire mythology. The book was, I suppose, entertaining enough. But it was really, really disgustingly gross in a few scenes, enough so that I’m not going to keep this in my library, nor am I planning on buying any more in this series.
Cart and Cwidder, Diana Wynne Jones. Loved it. This is the first book in the Dalemark Quartet and, like everything Diana Wynne Jones writes, is enthralling. I do recommend it. The characters are well drawn. I also appreciate that she finishes telling the story of the first book, so that you feel satisfied, even as she has one of the characters depart on another journey at the very end, so you want to know where he’s going. I get very frustrated with writers who are writing multi-volume sets but do not tie up the stories at the end of each volume (see A Princess of Roumania, below).
The Homeward Bounders, Diana Wynne Jones. What if the whole world were just one of an infinite series of worlds, and we were all just pawns in war games played by aliens? Hmmm? And what if you were to find that fact out? Once again, this is Diana Wynne Jones doing what she does best.
The Last Templar, Raymond Khoury. This is the type of book that I loathe perhaps above any other type of book. Raymond Khoury, like Dan Brown, has made some money off the fact that one can never lose by underestimating the stupidity of the masses. Gee, let’s write a “novel” attacking people’s faith. Let’s write a “novel” asserting that Jesus Christ was not divine at all and the Catholic church has been oppressing people throughout the centuries despite knowing for a certainty that Jesus Christ was just another poor schmuck, albeit a good guy. I do realize that there are plenty of people who do not believe in Christ, and I’m not attacking them nor demanding that they believe exactly what I do. I just wish that people would quit attacking my beliefs in such a way that they’re basically telling me that I’m a huge idiot for believing what I do. That’s rude and unnecessary.
Poor guy, though, Khoury’s “novel” didn’t rouse the the furor that Dan Brown’s did. I haven’t seen any documentaries about his novel–of course, I haven’t been looking for them either, so perhaps there are some that I’ve just missed. Don’t waste your time or your money.
Magic or Madness, Justine Larbalestier
Magic Lessons, Justine Larbalestier
These two books are absolutely superb! I read the first, Magic or Madness, and then read it again. Not cover to cover, like I usually do when I have to re-read a book immediately upon finishing it the first time. No, I had to re-read a particular section. Then another, then another, and so on, until I had re-read the entire book. That is significant. It means that Larbalestier writes in such a way that when you have finished the book, certain things stand out, and you have to go back and see if you understand them better. And you do, and then you go back to check something else, and lo, you understand it better. And so on. So the next day I went and bought the second book in the trilogy. I got home at 12:30 on Friday night/Saturday morning. Knowing that I had to be up at 6:30 to get to my Weight Watchers meeting on time, one would think that I went to sleep. No. I read Magic Lessons. I did manage to restrain myself from reading it a second time, though. I’m now very eager to read Magic Child, the last volume in the trilogy, as soon as I can lay my hot little hands on it.
The premise of the stories is that if one is born with magic, one has to use it, or else one will go mad. There’s a caveat, though. Using your magic will burn out your life, so you have to use it with extreme caution. Is there another way? Reason is determined to find out. In the meantime, she’s going to make sure that her evil grandmother Esmeralda (or is she evil) can’t defeat her; she has to keep her even more evil grandfather away from her; and she needs to save her friend Jay-Tee who is so out of magic that she’s about to die; she wants to save her mother Sarafina who is insane; and there’s the small matter of her pregnancy. . .
The Changeover, Margaret Mahy. Another excellent YA novel; 14-year-old Laura’s younger brother is enchanted by a sinister being. As he lies in the hospital, close to death, she turns to the only source she can think of in order to save his life. She ends up changing over, becoming a witch, and saves the day. The book originally came out in 1984, and was re-released fairly recently. It is contemporary in tone, aging very well, and is extremely compelling. It’s one that cries out for a sequel.
Night Wars, Graham Masterton. I liked this one better than I expected–it was one of the freebies I received at the World Fantasy Convention back in November. A motley crew of misfits learn that they are Night Warriors with a mission. They manage to save the world, at some cost, and their success in the world of dreams carries over as they begin to make changes in their daytime lives. I’d recommend it.
Jade Green: A Ghost Story, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. This is a middle-grade book, and I think I’d have liked it much better when I was 10-12 than I do now. As an adult I found it extremely predictable. Naylor does a good job with setting up a good, eerie atmosphere, and her characterization is well done. The ghostly action is laughable (a severed hand that races around the house scaring the protagonist); also, I was able to identify the villain and the truth behind the death of the ghost almost from the beginning. That’s from an adult perspective, again, and something that I might not have caught had I been at the target age.
You: On a Diet, Mehmet C. Oz. I’ve actually read this three times already, but it bears re-reading. It’s an excellent book. I’ve already started doing several of his tips, including taking two baby aspirin daily. I gave blood on Thursday for the first time since I’ve been doing that. From the time they stuck my arm until the bag was full was 4 minutes. That’s a record. I like that. I’m going to the doctor for a complete physical on March 2nd. I’m down more than 40 pounds, and I’m eager to see how my lipids panel has changed. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to get healthier.
A Princess of Roumania, Paul Park. I LOATHED this book!!!!!! And it is such an unnecessary loathing, because I think it could have been such a very good book. It’s intended to be at least a two-volume set, perhaps longer, although I’m not interested enough to find out. A young woman who was adopted from Romania by a Massachusetts family learns that she is descended from Romanian royalty. Strange things begin happening in her small town and at school, and one night she and two of her friends are whisked into another dimension where, it appears, the world she has grown up in (the world in which we all live) was just a novel written by her magical aunt in order to protect her from the evil Baroness Nicola Coucesceau. One of her friends, a young man who has been missing part of an arm since birth, has an ill-fitting arm to replace the missing part, and her best friend Andromeda is now a yellow dog. The story hops back and forth from the real world to the other world; from one POV to another POV. It’s disjointed, hard to follow. It doesn’t really end; it just sort of stops. One is apparently supposed to be invested enough in the story to want to buy the next book to find out what happens. Guess what–I’m not. Not only will I not buy the next book, I will not even retain this one (a hardcover that I received as a freebie at the World Fantasy Convention) in my library.
The Last Safe Place on Earth, Richard Peck. I am vehemently opposed to censorship. I find it incredibly disturbing that people would try to censor the reading material of other people. This novel looks at a family in a small exclusive town where everything is supposed to be just wonderful. But beneath the surface, things are boiling. The best friend of the protagonist is desperately trying to take care of his alcoholic mother, and when she is in rehab, takes care of himself. The baby-sitter who looks after his youngest sister, and on whom he has a huge crush, is a born-again Christian who tells his sister that Halloween is evil, and anyone who tells ghost stories and dresses up for Halloween is going to hell. His sister’s now having nightmares, and is persuaded that her whole family is damned. The baby-sitter’s brother is hot-wiring and wrecking cars, and has even caused one death; now he’s beat up his mother. And a concerned parent’s group is attempting to remove The Diary of Anne Frank from the school library because it’s not about good Christians. Peck aptly illustrates that no matter where one goes, the same problems exist. The differences come about because of how each person decides to face and deal with those problems.
Escape from Arylon (The Silverskin Legacy), JoAnne Whittemore. I met Jo Whittemore at the convention in November, and she did a reading from this book. I finally picked up a copy last week, and read it. The first few chapters were slow for me to get through–there were a few places where her choice of words was so peculiar as to be noticeably obtrusive, and I almost put the book down because of it. I’m glad I didn’t. The problem didn’t continue, and the story is very good. This is a trilogy; I’ve ordered the two other books and they will be shipped to me as soon as the last is released in the summer. I do recommend it.