Archive | December 2011

Book Reviews: The Help, It’s All Greek to Me,, Codex Alera

Three Fer

In honor of the holidays, I’m gonna give you 2 of my favorite books (for this month) and my favorite series of the year. It also gives you a pretty good gauge as to the type of books I read 🙂

It’s all Greek to Me by Katie Macalister, Signet Books

I love Katie Macalister, even though her heroine’s tend to end up in bed with the hero a little too quickly. But she is one of the few authors who writes steamy, FUNNY love scenes. I laughed so hard I snorted soda through my nose. As soon as I read that scene I thought of posting it here, and I was still in the beginning of the book. Let me know if you figure out which scene it was.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Berkely

I circled around The Help for several months. It was a movie, it was on all the book club lists. I was scared it was one of those “important” books that aren’t very entertaining or uplifting. I was wrong.

It is told in a three part harmony of first person narratives. Besides being a gripping read, it made me think about the way things were where I grew up in California. It also makes a person think about what matters so much to you that you would risk getting beaten so badly you went blind, having a tongue cut out… So many brutalities were possible for the women in this novel, that their bravery sings through out it.

The Codex Alera (series) by Jim Butcher, Ace Fantasy

Rarely do I find a series that grips me so hard I read books 1 through 6 right in a row. Nothing in between and thank goodness they had all already been published because if I had been forced to wait there would have been bodily harm done upon someone. Everything comes together in the series: believable characters—some whom you are rooting for and some you wish would fall into a hole in the earth, gripping action, and a main character who is the moral compass of the whole place.

This is a high fantasy series, and I enjoyed every second of Tavi’s journey/quest. I still go and dip back into the different books while I’m in between novels.

What would your three fer include?

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Magazine Review: Fantasy & Science Fiction

One of the things I’m most passionate about is reading. It comes in second only to my son, Ray. And on a bad day… well, nothing helps settle the soul like a good story. So I’ve decided that this blog is going to change, just a little. Since I read so many books, magazines, etc… And I love ‘em, hate ‘em and can’t live without them, I’ll devote more time to the blog and books.

To start with we’re going to peruse the January/February edition of Fantasy & Science Fiction (the magazine). To be fair, I’m going to let you know that I received an ARC (Advance Readers Copy). I’m also going to let you know that I firmly believe that there is not enough time for bad books. If it doesn’t catch my attention, I set it aside.

I did not set aside this magazine. It kept falling open to the story “Scrap Dragon” by Naomi Kritzer. As an avowed dragon enthusiast, I couldn’t resist. But it wasn’t the dragon that kept me reading. Oh no, I was hooked by the second sentence in the story (which is actually a question). Anyone who has ever told a story off the cuff to a child is going to appreciate this one. I was laughing out loud—the play between narrator and listener was an integral part of the story and made it even more magical.

I also enjoyed the opening story, “Small Towns” by Felicity Shoulders. It struck me as a great mash up of the Pinnochio and Thumbelina stories, but with only using a dash of the originals. A fairy tale for grown-ups, it kept me guessing as to where it was headed.

Charles De Lint’s book review is always great, even if I don’t agree with his picks. And Paul Di Filippo’s “Plumage from Pegasus” made me laugh so hard I started snorting. I didn’t care for Elizabeth Hand’s column, Books, and to be honest it was a bit disconcerting to have an advertisement for another book on the page that was not being reviewed.

Bottom line: This collection of stories is well worth the cover price of the magazine. I’ll more than likely buy the next issue to come out. While I didn’t love every single story, there were enough great ones to more than make up for that. To be honest, I’ve bought short story collections of some authors to be sorely disappointed.

I was not disappointed this time.