September 29th, 2009


54. Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb - 553 pages (8/10)

While I enjoyed the Soldier's Son trilogy, it was exciting to get back to the land of the Rain Wilds. It's still not as good as the Farseer, in my opinion, (could anything be?) but it's a good start to a two-part book.

Dragon Keeper tells the story of several main characters: Thymara, a 'deformed' child that ;should' have been left to die at birth, Alise, the unhappily married dragon scholar, Sedric, a frustrated man determined to do anything for the man he's in love with, and Leftrin, the captain of a wizardwood barge that goes up and down the river to the Rain Wilds. The Rain Wilds is set almost in colonial times--slavery is an issue, piracy, and reputation is of the utmost importance.

In the novel, the last few serpents in the world "hatch" from their cocoons to become dragons. Yet it did not go as planned, and many of them have emerged stunted and deformed--none of them can fly, and some of them have even forgotten their ancestral memories. They become an economic drain and "disposable" people in the Rain Wilds herd them to a city that may or may not exist.

It is a good start to a 2-part book, but that is also it's downfall--it does not stand on its own that well. It ends abruptly and leaves you hungering for more. If you're not a rabid Hobb fan like me, it would probably be better to wait until the second installment comes out and then read them both in quick succession. This book and Soldier's Son has felt a little rushed to me as well. They're still a cut above most fantasy out there, but I think Hobb is getting pressure to write more books more quickly, but I'd rather have fewer books that have been lingered over.

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41: Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

Book Forty-One

Title: Her Royal Spyness
Author: Rhys Bowen
Genre: Historical Mystery, Chick-Lit
Page Count: 336

Synopsis/Thoughts: Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie (otherwise known as Georgie) is thirty-fourth in line for the throne, which hasn't been doing her any good lately. Despite her fancy title, she is completely broke. It is the middle of the Great Depression, and everyone is economizing. Unfortunately, her brother Binky has economized by cutting off the meager allowance she had been receiving. Left with no money and no way to support herself, and under pressure from Binky to marry the unpleasant Prince Seigfried of Romania, Georgie flees to London in hopes that she will somehow be able to make her own way there. She starts a business cleaning houses incognito (think of the scandal there would be if a member of the royal family was discovered to be working as a maid!), and things seem to be looking up when a mysterious Frenchman appears, claiming that Castle Rannoch, the family seat, is rightfully his. As if that wasn't bad enough, several days later he shows up dead, drowned in the bathtub at Rannoch House! Georgie and her brother are the prime suspects, and it's up to her to clear their names before it's too late.

This was a pretty good book, but nothing too special. The mystery aspect of the book is very weak. The solution was obvious and I thought the main character was pretty dense to not have put the pieces together sooner. Also the love interest, usually pretty prominent in books like this, was surprisingly poorly developed. I really didn't care for the guy at all. Those complaints aside, I did find most of the characters likable and interesting. Georgie, despite her privileged upbringing and lack of experience, wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty and work for a living when the necessity arose. I liked watching her grow as a character from someone who had been coddled by servants and family all her life to someone who was independent and could take care of herself. My curiosity has been piqued by Her Majesty's assignment for Georgie, so I will probably read the next book.
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Book 44 for 2009

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

Enjoyable Victorian murder mystery. Lord Edward Grey has had a weak heart all his life, so no-one is unduly surprised when he keels over at a dinner party and dies shortly afterwards. But then his widow, Lady Julia is approached by the mysterious Nicholas Brisbane, who suggests that her husband's death wasn't from natural causes after all...

A fun read, with interesting characters, marred by a sprinkling of anachronisms and Americanisms that should really have been caught by a decent proof editor - I really don't think the Victorian aristocracy said things like "I will be fine" or "Are you sure you're up for this?". Not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the book, or prevent me from reading the sequel, but still an irritation.

Books 23-25

23. The Last Dragonlord by Joanne Bertin
Linden Rathan is considered the last of the dragonlords, people who can change from human to dragon at will. Three dragonlords are called to settle a throne dispute in a nearby kingdom. Linden reluctantly goes as one of the three to keep the peace between two sides of a family. In between trying to figure out who murdered the queen, who is poisoning her young son, and which side of the family is willing to go to any lengths to have control of the kingdom, Linden meets Maurynna, who he believes is his soultwin - the person who holds the other half of his human and dragon self. The problem is, no new dragonlords have been sensed in over 600 years...
I really enjoyed this book. It's the first in a fantasy series by Joanne Bertin and she finds a new way to interpret the world of dragons. I like the concept of dragonlords and their soultwins. When it first came up in the book, I was put off by the idea, thinking it was going to be a sappy love story plotpoint. As the concept is explained, it is very complex. For the most part, soultwins are madly in love with each other. But, soultwins can also hate one another with a passion. After all, if someone truely hates themselves, how can they like the other half of themself? The book has a solid plot and enough action and mystery to keep you reading.

24. Dragon and Phoenix by Joanne Bertin
The sequel to The Last Dragonlord, several Dragonlords are called to the Land of the Phoenix, where they believe a dragon is being held captive as a source of magical power for the kingdom. The story of their resuce party is told in parallel to the story of the Phoenix Emperor and his mistress, who is determined to become Empress and plays a deadly game of politics and betrayal with the Emperor's head advisor.
Another solid story, Bertin really gets into the details of her world. I wuld recommend these books to any fans of fantasy fiction.

25. Blood Rites: Book 6 of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Yet another marvelous entry in the Dresden saga. Again, I was completely enthralled from the first page, when Dresden has to rescue a litter of puppies from a band of monkey demons. Of course, in the magical world, even puppies aren't what they seem...
Dresden is hired to investigate the source of a deadly curse on Arturo Genosa, a director and producer in the adult film industry. Something is killing off the women in his life, in gruesome and unbelievable ways. In his investigation, Dresden uncovers a huge secret about his mother and makes an enemy of Mavra, an ancient and powerful vampire of the Black Court.
I love, love, LOVE this series!!!!!!!!!!! Has anyone read the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher? I've heard that it is VERY different from the Dresden files, but I love his writing style so much, I can't imagine him writing anything that bad.

The pills that I ate came a couple years too late.

36. Fables Vol 5 (3.5/5)
I'm still really enjoying this, but I need to nab vol 6 before I will read 7-11 >_> I'm picky that way.

37-38. Y: The Last Man Vol 1-2 (4/5)
This was really great! The art was well executed, the story is developing well and the characters are progressing wonderfully. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this but I was pleasantly surprised. As the title suggests, it's about the last man on earth! Something happens [a mystery thus far] that kills off all the men in the world, except one! All the women have to restructure their communities and cope in a world without men. Feminist radicals form, well, radical groups. It's pretty interesting.

39. Vampire Knight Vol 7 (3/5)
As far as this series goes, I can't say I'm enjoying how the characters are developing at the moment. I hope this rectifies itself soon.

40. Black Bird Vol 1 (4/5)
I was surprised I liked this, as was the friend who lent it to me! But it was really good, I always enjoy a tale of humans mixing with mischievous demons! And Taro is soooo adorable~!

41. Fragile Eternity Melissa Marr (8/10)
I liked this volume better than the previous Ink Exchange [even considering the commonality of a chaos star for a tattoo I shared with the main character], but I still liked Wicked Lovely the best of the three. This was very good though, and I'm looking forward to more from Marr in this series. It's been called a saga and a series, not a trilogy, so I'm hoping that means I can expect more! For those of you who enjoyed Twilight and are looking for something to read along the same vein, I recommend picking up this series. Even though it isn't about vampires. *GASP!*

42. The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold (9/10)
This book was marvelous. It took a really serious issue and made it into a stunning piece of literature. It was really touching, this tale of a girl gone to heaven before her time, of murder and family coping. Although there was a part near the end that left me wondering a great deal, though not in a good way, it was very well done. I really recommend this read. Also, I'm super excited to find out that the movie based on this book will be released in December!

Books I'm reading: The Strain, Game of Thrones, Anasi Boys.
Silly school is taking away from my reading time >_> Ohhh college.
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Book 36: The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier

Here is book thirty-six from my Book List 2009. The link leads to a more detailed review in my journal.

36. Title: The City in the Lake
Author: Rachel Neumeier
Pages: 294
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Lifeless start; interesting villain; anticlimactic.
Personal Rating: «««¼ out of five.

In Timou's magical world, the Prince has suddenly gone missing and with that event, everything within the Kingdom is out of sorts. Life seems to be stagnant and nothing feels right. A powerful force has invaded the Kingdom and is trying to take control of it.

Timou's father is a mage and she is learning the craft from him. When he disappears as well, Timou gradually begins to realize that the Kingdom's disturbances are linked to the disappearances and her mysterious family heritage. Thus begins her journey to the Kingdom and the City in the lake.

I think Neumeier had solid and fascinating ideas for her book, but when it all came together, I didn't particularly like the result. The first 85 pages are incredibly dull, so much so that I almost stopped reading. It took a long time for me to wade through this because I would find my thoughts wandering while I should have been paying attention to the action in the book. Some of Neumeier's concepts were abstract. Now this would be fine if the author made some acknowledgment of them when scenes abruptly shifted due to the ever changing worlds, but this wasn't the case. It was difficult to distinguish which actions were happening in which worlds and if dream sequences were actually real.

The best thing about the book was the villain. The casual cruelty inflicted on those who disobeyed was horrible, but well written. Neumeier describes those scenes so well that you can almost feel the pain. With a villain as evil as this one, I fully expected a battle royale at the end. When you are told what happens to the villain by another character instead of reading about the villain's actual experience for yourself, it detracts from the book and made it feel incomplete to me. Unfortunately, this made the ending anticlimactic and extremely disappointing.

One other thing I liked about this story is that Neumeier's prose is pretty. Her wonderfully detailed descriptions made many scenes come to life. I enjoyed the scenic descriptions and the villain, but I can't say that I recommend this book.

36 / 50 books. 72% done!

12,654 / 15000 pages. 84% done!