Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 7, 8, 9 and 10 - 2010

Book 7: Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton – 365 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
I am Meredith, princess of faerie, wielder of the hands of Flesh and Blood, and at long last, I am with child - twins, fathered by my royal guard. Though my uncle, Taranis, King of Light and Illusion, claims that he is the true father since he abducted me from my home, betrayed, and defiled me. And now he has branded my guards as a threat to my unborn children. Bearing an heir has placed me halfway to my aunt's throne, that much closer to my reign over the Unseelie Court - and well ahead of her son, my cousin Cel, in this race. Now I must stay alive to see my children born and claim my place as queen. But not all in faerie are pleased with the news, and conspirators from every court in the realm plot against me and mine. They seek to strip my guards, my lovers, from me by poisoned word or cold steel. But I still have supporters, and even friends, among the goblins and the sluagh, who will stand by me. I am Meredith Nic Essus, and those who would defy and destroy me are destined to pay a terrible price - for I am truly my father's daughter. To protect what is mine, I will sacrifice anything - even if it means waging a great battle against my darkest enemies and making the most momentous decision ever made as princess of faerie.

I think I enjoyed this one as much as Kiss of Shadows right back at the beginning. It actually had a plot which has become rare in the Merry Gentry books (or was it always rare – I’m not sure, I think it debatable) and I have to admit when I got ¾ in and there was no sex scene yet I was a little like ‘huh?’. Needless to say, Hamilton doesn’t leave us hanging though – that just wouldn’t be her style! This book also really felt like an end. I have Divine Misdemeanors, the 8th book, sitting on my book shelf, and whilst I’m glad she’s gone on because I love Doyle and Frost and Rhys and Galen, I do kind of wonder where it is she can go. The resolutions reached in this one really wrapped up a lot of the outstanding issues in the series, so my only thought is that Hamilton has decided on a new story arc – but then I might be giving the series more credit than its due! Either way, it’s still my guilty pleasure and though it definitely has things that annoy me, I’ll still keep reading – as I always say, Twilight for grown ups!

7 / 50 books. 14% done!

2280 / 15000 pages. 15% done!

Book 8: Hatter M: Volume 2: Mad with Wonder by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier; illustrated by Sami Makkonen –204 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
It's a mad, mad, mad world as Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan's maniacal quest to find Alyss continues! In Volume 2, "Mad With Wonder", Hatter follows the Glow from London to the battlefields of America's Civil War in search of the Princess who must some day be Queen. The America that Hatter encounters is a sprawling, wounded, boiling landscape of innocence and energy run amok. The war is tearing the country apart, yet Hatter must maintain his sanity in this maelstrom of holy rollers, child healers, prophetic snake handlers, deranged outlaws, and passionate southern belles. As Hatter searches he learns he is not the only Wonderland presence that has found its way to the Promised Land. Queen Redd's black imagination is fueling the Civil War and threatening our world with her evil!

Love, love, love Looking Glass Wars and totally love Hatter – of an already awesome cast, he’s definitely one of my top three – I love the totally different take on the Mad Hatter (and I’m a big fan of the original too, so for those who think that Beddor’s story doesn’t do justice to the original I must say I disagree wholeheartedly); Hatter M will always remind me of my favourite Dragonball Z character, Vegeta – the tough, violent, emotionless shell filled up with all those gorgeous vulnerabilities (I have a soft spot for these kind of characters – they were partly the inspiration for my main character in my own book, except I did a gender switch). But anyway, on with this particular addition to the Hatter M universe. I must say I prefer Ben Templesmith’s artwork in the previous volume than I do Makkonen’s in this one. Templesmith’s was more clean and easier to interpret, I felt myself getting a little lost with this one. I don’t think the story was always as clear and it sometimes took me a few go’s to get what it was trying to tell me. In respect of the story itself, Beddor is very clever at explaining real events (in this case, the American Civil War) by virtue of events in Wonderland. I can’t say my knowledge of the American Civil War is particularly extensive (being Aussie, we generally study European, Asian or Australian Aboriginal history. I studied Modern History at high school and the only American history we looked at was in reference to the British – ie. The Boston Tea Party) which made things a little hard to understand, but from what I could tell, it was done well. There were a few points I kind of took issue with, but for the most part I think that was me having to let go of my preconceived notions of the character of Hatter. All in all, I don’t think this one was quite as good as the previous volume, but I still enjoyed it. Having said that, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have read the Looking Glass Wars simply because it is assumed within the text that you know the background of Beddor’s interpretation of Wonderland.

8 / 50 books. 16% done!

2484 / 15000 pages. 17% done!

Book 9: Divine by Blood by P.C. Cast – 443 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Raised as a normal girl in Oklahoma for eighteen years, Morrigan had no idea how special she really was. After discovering the truth of her heritage, her rage and grief take on a power of their own, carrying her back to the world of Partholon. Yet, instead of being respected as the daughter of the goddess Incarnate, Morrigan feels like a shunned outsider. In her desperation to belong to Partholon, she confronts forces she can't fully understand or control. And soon a strange darkness draws closer...

Hmmm, what to say about this book? This is the final in the Divine trilogy (Divine by Mistake, Divine by Choice, Divine by Blood) but instead of following Shannon, the protagonist in the first two books, it follows her mirror-image’s daughter (got that? Lol!) 18-year-old Morrigan. I have to say that Morrigan was a very difficult character to like. She was a very typical teenager, self-righteous, self-absorbed and certain that she knew all. I spent half the book wanting to slap her. The other problem with this story was the fact that it took ages to get anywhere. The blurb implies that the story is about Morrigan trying to fit into Partholon but this actually doesn’t become an issue until the last quarter of the book. I felt rather like I got halfway through the book before anything interesting happened. I definitely feel that these books work better when the centaur character (in this one, a High Shaman called Kegan, in the previous two a High Shaman called Clan Fintan) is present. I don’t get interested until they appear and when they leave, the story becomes boring again. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re so different, maybe it’s the fact that Cast seems to write these characters so they’re quite amusing, I’m not sure. All in all, I liked this book, but definitely not as much as the first in the trilogy. It kind of felt like Cast had rehashed the same story from the first one but taken out half the plot. Oh well!

9 / 50 books. 18% done!

2927 / 15000 pages. 20% done!

Book 10: He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 other double standards every woman should know by Jessica Valenti – 213 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Double standards are nothing new. Women deal with them every day. Take the common truism that women who sleep around are sluts while men are studs. Why is it that men grow distinguished and sexily gray as they age while women just get saggy and haggard? Have you ever wondered how a young woman is supposed to both virginal and provocatively enticing at the same time? Isn't it unfair that working moms are labeled "bad" for focusing on their careers while we shake our heads in disbelief when we hear about the occasional stay-at-home dad? In 50 Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, Jessica Valenti, author of Full Frontal Feminism, calls out the double standards that affect every woman. Whether Jessica is pointing out the wage earning discrepancies between men and women or revealing all of the places that women still aren't equal to their male counterparts be it in the workplace, courtroom, bedroom, or home she maintains her signature wittily sarcastic tone. With sass, humor, and in-your-face facts, this book informs and equips women with the tools they need to combat sexist comments, topple ridiculous stereotypes (girls aren't good at math?), and end the promotion of lame double standards. "

I think this book would have been really good but for a few failings that are too crucial to ignore. Valenti raises several issues that are really significant and she definitely brought to my attention a few things I’d never considered (I have a degree in sociology and I did lots of subjects on gender studies within that course). However, if you’re going to argue for wide-spread, significant change to the way the genders interact and respond to each other, you really need to have decent back up for your argument. Valenti doesn’t. Her references to other material are minimal at best, and often she’ll provide no support for why she believes something is wrong. Regularly throughout the text she’ll refer to a piece of research that contradicts her claim, and in dispute of this research simply says its ‘crap’, but research that supports her argument isn’t crap. If she had genuine support for why the former research was crap I’d totally agree with her, but just saying something is crap doesn’t suffice as an argument. This happened time and time again within the book and it really annoyed me. And Valenti kept repeating the same issues over and over again and just putting a new spin on it. And she really did nothing for opposing the whole ‘feminists have no sense of humour’ claim with some of the things she took issue with – some things are just a joke! I consider myself, if not a feminist, than a supporter of gender equality (if you were to ask my brothers you would be told I’m a psycho feminist bra-burning, non-shaving crazy lady, but that’s a little extreme if you ask me – I’m all for bras!) but I’m not going to accept an argument if it isn’t valid and fair, I just feel that while Valenti probably has both a valid and fair argument, she simply doesn’t present it properly. Either way, I think I’ll track down some of her other books because I’m interested to see what else she has to say, with the hope that she tries for some better, more supported arguments.

10 / 50 books. 20% done!

3140 / 15000 pages. 21% done!

Currently reading:
- From Modernism to Postmodernism: An Anthology
edited by Lawrence Cahoone – 600 pages
- Next
by Michael Crichton – 540 pages
- The Constant Princess
by Philippa Gregory – 486 pages
- Divine Misdemeanors
by Laurell K. Hamilton – 333 pages

And coming up:
- Angels and Demons
by Dan Brown – 620 pages
- The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls – 341 pages
- Nobody’s Princess
by Esther Friesner – 305 pages

I am now 539 pages through the Modernism anthology. Yay!
Tags: dark fantasy, fairy tales, feminist, graphic novel, magic, myth and legend, nyt bestseller, pagan, political thriller, urban fantasy, young adult

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