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Daughter of the Forest
Juliet Marillier

What a partnership!

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

It's a shame that Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman only wrote one book together. Both writers are geniuses in their own ways and working as a duo, the result speaks for itself.


The apocalypse is at hand and a misplace antichrist has no idea that forces of Heaven and Hell are vying for information about his location. In fact, he doesn't know he's the antichrist!


A weird assortment of hangers on get involved, including a group of bikers who mirror the four horsemen of the apocalypse. An uneasy friendship between an angel and a demon named Crawley, who changes it to Crowley, adds to the comedy value.


It's a very worthwhile fantasy read and probably the only one that can make the end of everything amusing.

An interesting way to tell history

London - Edward Rutherfurd

Rutherfurd's style of taking us into a historic setting is different than anything I've seen elsewhere. He has a gentle tone, telling the story through a family that might carry on through generations, moving from one character to another as time passes.


I found it an interesting way to observe the changes in London over a large span of time and to get a good overview of what life was like for ordinary people. It kept me interested and made me want to read more of his books.



Reblogged from Bookivorous:
Just nudge me if I start snoring....
Just nudge me if I start snoring....

Old Style Fantasy

The Goblin Trilogy - Jaq D. Hawkins

This is a wonderful Fantasy series for the sort of reader who enjoys extensive world building and interactions with mythological creatures. Much of it takes established mythology and forges new connections between different types of creatures, while taking us through some exciting adventures.


There is magic of a believable kind and most fun for me, Dragons!


If you've enjoyed Pern, Amber, Sanctuary, Darkover and other imaginary worlds, this one is for you. However if your definition of Fantasy is Fantasy Romance, look elsewhere.

Deathgate Cycle

Dragon Wing - Tracy Hickman, Margaret Weis Elven Star - Tracy Hickman, Margaret Weis Fire Sea - Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman Serpent Mage - Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman The Hand of Chaos - Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman Into the Labyrinth - Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman The Seventh Gate - Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman

For  anyone who hasn't heard of it, The Deathgate Cycle is one of those classic Fantasy series that once upon a time, everybody who loved Fantasy had to read. I started it on a recommendation and couldn't tear myself away until I had finished.


It was also one of the first series to exceed a trilogy. Seven books! There were times when I felt trapped in this world, full of challenges, difficult situations to overcome and all the stress that goes with getting wrapped up in a Fantasy world that would probbaly fall into the Sword and Sorcery category.


The problem is that once I had started, I had to see what else would happen. Weis and Hickman are well known and don't need me to tell the world that their Fantasy novels are well written, but they are.


Sometimes I consider re-reading this series, but seven books! It's been a long time, but I cans till feel the relief at reaching the seventh gate. If you like magic, dragons, Fantasy world building and a well defined conflict, this series is for you.

DEWEY - The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

This is a charming book that would melt the heart of any cat lover, although it is written in a tone that sounds like it's directed at very young readers. The first chapter, where the kitten is found in a book deposit box of a library in freezing cold weather, left me with tears in my eyes.


As you would expect, the story chronicles the discovery of Dewey's personality and why he is ideally suited to be a library cat, rather than just any pet. The library manager who is his primary caretaker tells the story, perhaps unintentionally giving away that she has never had a cat before. Her ignorance of simple things, like the fact that cats don't need to be given a bath, ever, except in extreme circumstances, is almost facepalming material.


It's a heartwarming story that has that feel good factor for any cat lover. Dewey doesn't do anything remarkable like saving someone's life, but he has a talent for charming people and every story about how he wins someone over has its own charisma.


The only sad thing about it is that like the story of the Titanic, you know how it's going to end before you start. Cats don't live forever. But Dewey's antics and his natural affection for people make it a story worth reading. He is a cat who reaches worldwide fame for doing nothing more than loving people and showing empathy for those who need his cuddles the most. Perhaps if it were required reading for schoolchildren, more of them would grow up to be good pet owners and understand that animals have feelings too.


The Mirror's Tale by P.W. Catanese

Okay, the book is aimed at children so I've adjusted my expectations accordingly. I found it interesting that the story was about twins who were descended from Snow White. It's an unusual angle. The conflict is set up early as neither is sure which was born first and is entitled to inherit the barony.


The one thing I didn't like is that the writing seemed to skip from one thing to another, like an old Vinyl record that needs cleaning. I think smoother transitions and more continuity would have made it a much better book.

 The writer seems to assume that the reader will already know all about the wicked queen and Snow White, which is probably true for the majority of readers but maybe not for everyone.


Overall it was a pretty good book and I'm sure that children will enjoy it, plus there are some ageless lessons about the temptation that power brings and how it can corrupt. 3 stars out of 5 from me.

The Showing by Will MacMillan Jones

The Showing is a ghost story about a house where female real estate agents begin to disappear.


A lot of the story focuses on one character who has some sort of blood connection to the ghost. Some of the beginning is slow as he deals with police, trying to find out what happened to two missing women. The reading is fairly light and lacks the suspense that I look for in a ghost story, but every so often something interesting happens so there was never any question that I would finish the book.


Then things turned gruesome. I don't mind saying that my interest picked up when bodies began to appear, but I did struggle with some unrealistic behavior from both police and a medium. I also thought the comedy took away from the suspense and a lot of the magic and ritual aspects, once revealed, were pretty far out there. I kept wondering why the demon just stood there.


Not a bad little ghost story, but not a great one either. I would give it 3.5 stars. It just wasn't all that scary.


Notes From the Underground by Fyoror Dostoyevsky

This isn't a story per se, but more a stream of consciousness commentary on various issues of life and politics by a Russian Writer. I haven't read any of the Russian writers before and found myself wondering if something might get lost in the translations.


It some ways it was interesting to read the author's observations which had a lot of insight, but at the same time it felt like sitting on a bench in San Francisco's Union Square and listening to the rantings of a foreigner that happened to sit down on the same bench and start talking to whoever would listen. There's almost a message in a bottle feel to it as Dostoyevsky sends his opinions out into the world of literature to be discovered by later generations.


I won't let it put me off reading more Russian authors, but if you're looking for a story with a start, a middle and an end, this isn't it. If you want philosophical exposition, this is actually great stuff. I read it as a group read and was expecting something different, but I've warmed up to it and have grown to appreciate it for what it is.


Dostoyevsky makes you think. I would definitely recommend him, as long as the reader knows what to expect.


Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

I'm a real fan of Neil Gaiman so it was a surprise to me that this book was, well, slow! The idea was interesting in itself, but maybe it was because the main character is wimpy. I got a little past halfway through it and actually stopped, although I do intend to finish it eventually because it's Gaiman!


The premise is that the children of Anansi live ordinary lives as men, but their trickster father has had an unsettling effect on their lives. The mythology of Anansi gets a nod but takes a backseat to a tale about what appears to be humans, no spiders required. I keep hoping that Anansi will suddenly crawl out of the false human shell, but so far no dice.


There's nothing wrong with the plot per se, but it just didn't hold my attention. Perhaps I'll go read American Gods instead. Neil is still one of the authors that I respect most.


Legacy by Susan Kay

Legacy is a Historical Fiction book about the first Queen Elizabeth. I found it hard to put down.


Legacy delves into the personal relationships that helped to shape Elizabeth as both a person and as a monarch, but I never felt as if I were reading a 'Romance' novel. There was loads of political intrigue and Elizabeth was depicted as very clever, always maintaining control of her emotions enough to keep her position (and often her life!) secure whilst dealing with other contenders for the throne and the complications that religion brought to the monarchy in that time.


I thought it was brilliantly done and will be looking out for more books by this author. Sometimes history can be more exciting than pure fiction and this was a good example of how to bring it all to life.