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Dispatches from Terabithia

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The Man With the Golden Torc
Simon R. Green
Childhood's End
Arthur C. Clarke
The Iron Ship
K. McKinley
House Immortal (House Immortal, #1)
Devon Monk
In the Night Garden
Catherynne M. Valente

Red Queen

Red Queen - Victoria Aveyard 17 year old Mare Barrow is one of the poverty-stricken Reds from The Stilts living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with godlike powers. But when things go very wrong, she finds herself working in the Silver Palace at the center of all those she hates the most, and discovers that despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own, one that threatens to destroy Silver control. I unintentionally followed Red Rising with Red Queen, which I find extremely ironic given that they both have societal classes called “Reds.” It’s funny how I manage to pair this stuff up somehow. However, despite a lot of conjecture that the two books are very similar, really, the only solid similarity is the color-coding of the classes; the books stand very much on their own. I enjoyed this, but not to the same degree as Red Rising. Either way, I’ll be looking forward to the next one.

The Winter King

The Winter King - Bernard Cornwell High King Uther has died, leaving his infant grandson as heir and his bastard son and gifted warlord Arthur as his protector in a country that has fallen into chaos, with threats from both within and without. Told in the first person from the flawed perspective of one of Arthur’s sworn soldiers, Derfel, in his old age, The Winter King humanizes many of the characters from the legendary tale of Arthur, bringing both perspective and realism to the story.

I picked this up on the recommendation of some of the readers of /r/Fantasy, who suggested it as an Arthurian tale that might not drive me nuts. Unfortunately, I really just do not click with ye olde Arthur of the Britons, and I was honestly glad to be finished with this story, even though it was really written very well.

I did kind of get a kick out of some of the locales of this book, though, as on one of my trips to England I went to Glastonbury and got to see the holy thorn and the tor, and see some of the locales legend has associated with the story, and this is the first Arthurian tale I’ve picked up since that visit.

Either way, very good historical fiction; I’d have loved it more if they’d changed all the names to protect the guilty.

Rolling in the Deep

Rolling in the Deep - Mira Grant The Imagine cable network has launched a new expedition to create a documentary in search of the reality of mermaids. Unfortunately, they find just a bit too much reality for their hyperreality programming.

I had intended to use this book for my stand-alone fantasy entry for the /r/Fantasy book bingo challenge, but I just couldn’t justify calling this a novel when it was 89 pages on the Kindle. That's squarely in novella territory.

That does NOT mean I didn’t enjoy this immensely -- I’m not sure, at this point, that Seanan McGuire can do much wrong in my eyes. It was creepy and scary and I wanted desperately for it to be about twice as long at an absolute minimum. Pout. Pout pout. Sigh.

The Arrivals

The Arrivals - Melissa Marr Chloe walks into a bar and blows five years of sobriety, but when she wakes in the morning she finds herself in an unfamiliar world in a group of people from all different times and places, and none of them really understands how they got there, or if there’s a way home. The Arrivals is basically a weird west novel with a little bit of romance, a lot of gunfighting, and some monsters.

I bought this in hardcover last year because I enjoyed Graveminder so much, but it’s resided on my to-read shelf ever since. So it was with some trepidation when I started this and noticed how low the ratings are on Goodreads (3.16 out of 1,519 ratings).

I can kind of see why this didn’t really resonate with some people -- it’s kind of a genre-bender; in some ways, you’re expecting a wild west showdown; in others, you’re expecting a romance; what you get is a character-driven adventure dealing with corruption and mortality, trust and fear. I enjoyed it -- and I’m glad I gave it a chance despite the reviews.

Bitter Greens

Bitter Greens - Kate Forsyth Braids together the tales of French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force, a young girl with burnished red hair named Margherita, and the witch who holds her captive. Bitter Greens is a historical fiction cum fairytale retelling of Rapunzel, and it is richly woven together with attention to detail and beautiful prose. I found it a little wearing after a while, but I don’t often have the patience for historical fiction. Either way, I truly enjoyed it and am glad to have read it.

Mythago Wood

Mythago Wood - Robert Holdstock I grew up on the edge of a little wood -- it was mostly ‘young’ growth, to be honest, not anything like the ancient woods in this book -- but I can remembering adventuring through it as a child, and how once you made it past the brush and briars on the edge it receded into this creepy, quiet forest floor littered with old leaves and trillium. I remember a giant boulder that I would go read on, and past the boulder was a giant old felled tree, and once you passed the rise on the other side of the valley the floor would change to sticky mud at the lowest points, and there, I can remember thinking that magic had to be real. Mythago Wood maintains that not only is the magic real, but our fairy tales and myths come to flesh and blood life through our collective memory. This was like a much, MUCH darker Bridge to Terabithia in that you cross the threshold, and you're in a different world were magic exists and exerts its influence on your life, and I’m frankly shocked that I hadn’t really run across it before, because it was outstanding. I’m really glad I ran across it, and I know it’s going to leave shockwaves on my memory for quite a while.

The Wee Free Men: The Beginning

The Wee Free Men: The Beginning - Terry Pratchett I'm working on a fantasy reading challenge, and one of the categories was comic fantasy, and, to be quite honest with you, I really struggled with this one even though Pratchett is my husband's favorite author. I’ve read what I wanted of the series and I was cool. Really enjoyed Good Omens and Equal Rites, and really? Content with that. So this time, husband and I went back and forth -- I wanted to read about Susan but not about Mort and not really even particularly about Death, so I tried Soul Music and just couldn't get into it. The other POVs were distracting and I just wasn't enjoying myself. Then he suggested Guards! Guards! Same problem -- just wasn't into it. He threw this one at me thinking I might enjoy reading about Tiffany, and he was right, I’m enjoying it.

The Wee Free Men follows Tiffany Aching, a precocious 9 year old who isn't afraid to speak her mind, as she attempts to rescue her very sticky, not-particularly-lovable little brother from the evil queen with the help of the wee free men, and, on the way, she learns about becoming a chalk witch. It was cute and full of clever quips and snarks, and I have always loved the way Pratchett writes about young girls -- independent, smart, and perfectly capable of saving themselves, thank you very much. Tiffany's a great addition to a cast of strong women, and she uses her wits and an iron skillet -- and not her magic! -- to save herself, her very sticky brother, and her friends, the wee men.

Definitely worth a read -- and a recommendation to kids, or anyone who enjoys comic fantasy, YA fantasy, or comic fantasy.

Dark Heir: A Jane Yellowrock Novel

Dark Heir - Faith Hunter Shapeshifting skinwalker Jane Yellowrock is the best in the business when it comes to slaying vampires, but her latest fanged foe may be above her pay grade. One of the strongest vampire witches of the European Council is set to create some havoc in the city of New Orleans, and it’s definitely personal. Jane is tasked with tracking him down. She and her partners will have to put everything on the line and hope it’s enough. Okay, I have to admit that this series is a guilty pleasure. It’s shallow and violent and snarky. It’s overblown and wild. I LOVE it. Just..just.. I’ll be over here..

The Neverending Story

The Neverending Story - Roswitha Quadflieg, Michael Ende, Ralph Manheim A lonely boy named Bastian finds a strange book that draws him into the beautiful but doomed world of Fantastica, a place that can only be saved by a human giving its ruler, the Childlike Empress, a new name. I really wish this challenge included the whole 2015 year -- I read The Rabbit-Back Literature Society about two months ago, and it was fantastic. The Neverending Story hit many of my least-favorites all at once. The journey, it was long, it was wide, it was about an inch deep. I am too old for this book, because I don’t deal well with skimming, and skimming is all this book does. I found it incredibly superficial -- but I wish I had an eight year old to read it to.

City of Lost Souls

City of Lost Souls - Cassandra Clare Jace is missing, and Clary’s out to find him, no matter what the cost. With Sebastian back to finish what his father started, the Scooby Gang has to find a way to stop him before it’s too late. It’s almost over, it’s almost over! They still can’t be together, the world is ending, and it’s almost over! One more book and I’ll be freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

City of Fallen Angels

City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare Looks like while Valentine is dead, someone is plotting to continue his legacy. Clary and Jace are caught right in the cross-fire. I’m actually writing this review from the vantage point of mid-way through book 5, but this series is frustrating. I’m enjoying it -- a lot -- and the tension is high -- but it feels like the actual plot is subsumed by the romance sub-plot more often than not. And I mean, I’ve barely done *anything* but read this series since starting it last week. I don’t think I’m going to write separate reviews. But seriously -- Clary and Jace need to be cut a break at SOME point. Gah.

City of Ashes

City of Ashes - Cassandra Clare Clary’s life has been turned upside down -- demons are real and her mother’s in a coma. She’s getting closer to Simon and her newfound brother Jace. But she’s ready for it all to go back to normal. But someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children -- is her father, Valentine, behind it? I’m actually writing this review from the vantage point of mid-way through book 5, but this series is frustrating. I’m enjoying it -- a lot -- and the tension is high -- but it feels like the actual plot is subsumed by the romance sub-plot more often than not. And I mean, I’ve barely done *anything* but read this series since starting it last week. I don’t think I’m going to write separate reviews. But seriously -- Clary and Jace need to be cut a break at SOME point. Gah.

American Elsewhere

American Elsewhere - Robert Jackson Bennett Under a pink moon, there is a perfect little town not found on any map, and in that little town are quiet streets lined with pretty houses that conceal the strangest things. Ex-cop Mona Bright inherits her long-dead mother’s home in Wink, New Mexico, and when she gets there, she finds that the people of Wink are very, very different.

Woo. Lovecraftian horror. This really reminded me of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, which, if you haven’t listened to before, you really ought to. I loved Mona -- she’s pragmatic, realistic, cynical, even in the face of some really weird shit going down. And while I get that Bennett is more literary than a lot of authors out there, I sort of wished that this book had been trimmed down a little -- I was really experiencing book fatigue by about page 500, but I knew if I put it down, I’d never pick it back up. This is not to say that the book isn’t fantastic -- it really is, and it may make it onto my favorites shelf. It was definitely a joyride.

The Mirror Empire

The Mirror Empire - Kameron Hurley So… I made the mistake of reading The Language of Knives (short story) at the same time as this. And the two paired just give a whole new meaning to bringing relatives to dinner. Okay, having said that, and having read the Bel Dame Apocrypha, I knew what I was getting into here: Hurley is a master (mistress?) of the creation of TRULY unique worlds with intricate worldbuilding, but also being able to delicately throw that information at the reader. I have absolutely zero doubt that she’s figured out plumbing for each of her cultures, but she has the grace not to explain it to the reader. I have to admit that most of her writing leaves me in the mind of China Mieville, who I consider the king of the New Weird genre, but honestly? I think she’s better at it. Unfortunately for me, I’m not a huge fan of New Weird, so while I enjoyed the uniqueness of the setting, it also had a tendency to get under my skin. THIS IS NOT TO SAY this is not an awesome book, because it is -- it is to say that I’m not one for this much complexity in my reading.

Clockwork Prince (Infernal Devices)

Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare In Victorian London, Tessa Gray has finally found safety with the Shadowhunters, but there are plots afoot to replace the head of the Institute where she has found her refuge, and the corruption is miles deep. While I’m enjoying the plot, I find myself getting somewhat frustrated with the story because it focuses far too much on romance and far too little on plot; the romance is supposed to be a side-plot, not THE plot. Argh. That said, I spent the last several hours cursing at this book because it’s just… I realize timing like this is only possible in books, and I find it utterly frustrating when it happens.

The Wildalone

The Wildalone - Krassi Zourkova Okay, I just quit this book at 50%. Our protagonist has been being stalked and controlled and repeatedly nearly raped but keeps going back like any screwed up relationship to the utter detriment of her friends and herself. I've been doing nothing but swearing at this book for the last hour, until she abandons her friend YET AGAIN for crazy guy. I see hoping this will turn around and back into the fantasy ride I signed up for, but it's just one screwed up move after another, and by god, YES I'M MAD ABOUT IT.