May 19th, 2015

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Continuing in the previous vein, I finished reading the D&D 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide yesterday, in preparation for running a game. It's a rulebook, not a novel, and maybe shouldn't count here?

Book 60

Legacies (Shadow Grail, #1)Legacies by Mercedes Lackey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I remember the last Lackey book I read. I was picking up my parents from their 25th anniversary. I'm approximately two weeks shy of it being their big 50th so it's been awhile. I will say that this doesn't get high marks on originality but over all I liked it well enough. Of course there will be Harry Potter comparisons drawn since both have schools of magic (just as there were between Harry and his forerunner, Tim Hunter from DC/Vertigo's Books of Magic).

Spirit White just went through the worst thing a teen can: the loss of her entire family in a car accident and she herself nearly died (someone has a warped idea of how long physical therapy will take, just saying. Nowhere near this short). Spirit finds herself sprung from the rehab hospital and shuttled in to Oakhurst with another young orphan, Loch. Unlike her and her hippie parents, he is from money but they get on well.

Oakhurst is part orphanage and part magical training school. Loch and Spirit meet a few new friends, Muirin the illusionist, Addie, the water witch heiress and Burke, the combat mage. Loch turns out to be able to find his way anywhere and know things by touching them. Spirit's magic never comes (at least not in this book). Oakhurst is highly competitive and doesn't encourage friendships. In fact it seems to want them isolated and is definitely isolated from the wider world being in the middle of Montana and off the web.

As Spirit tries to adjust to life without her baby sister, Phoenix and her parents, and slowly getting the idea that there is a whole world out there that is filled with enemy witches (who probably killed her parents and a lot of the other kids parents), she and the others become aware that kids are going missing. Now why Muirin, Addie and Burke never noticed before (since a few of them have been there a while and Spirit should have noticed Burke lost his family and his family home in exactly the same way she did but this doesn't seem to impact her) can only be explained by 'it wasn't one of my friends so who cares.'

But Muirin's boyfriend (sort of) is the one to go and then another friend at Halloween and this gets their attention. It didn't take much to figure out what was going on (but obviously if my parents are celebrating 50 years together you can guess I'm a lot older than the target audience so I've seen this before a hundred times). I recognized the Wild Hunt right off.

Naturally like in most YA's the adults are useless so the kids have to stop it. No one over thirty can be trusted after all and in this case who could blame them. Kids have been disappearing for forty years from this place. The group has a deadline. They have to figure out what is going on and stop it before the winter solstice.

Overall, it's enjoyable but like I said, not tremendously original. what really bugged me was the end. I liked what they did with the Wild Hunt and how they dealt with it but the aftermath had me rolling my eyes. For one there are too many loose ends not tied up (guess that's for future books in the series) and the adults just don't seem to care. That really reminded me of Harry Potter to be honest. Oh look there are FORTY years worth of disappearing kids tithed to the Wild Hunt and even recorded as such but when the kids tell Dr. Ambroisius he goes 'fifty points to Gryffyndor.' Okay not really. He doesn't demerit any points for being outside after curfew and that's it. That drives me nuts about YAs. Often the adults have to be either oblivious or criminally negligent or just plain gone. In this they're all three. Oh well.

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Book 47: The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers

Book 47: The Nine Tailors (Lord Peter Wimsey #11).
Author: Dorothy L. Sayers, 1934.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Golden Age Detective.
Other Details: ebook. 422 pages.

When his sexton finds a corpse in the wrong grave, the rector of Fenchurch St Paul asks Lord Peter Wimsey to find out who the dead man was and how he came to be there. The lore of bell-ringing and a brilliantly-evoked village in the remote fens of East Anglia are the unforgettable background to a story of an old unsolved crime and its violent unravelling twenty years later. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

The novel opens with Lord Peter Wimsey having a minor car accident on his way to celebrate the New Year. While his car is recovered and mended he and his valet, Bunter, are welcomed into the home of the local Rector. Given he has some experience with bell-ringing, Lord Peter is recruited as a substitute for a ill parishioner to take part in a nine-hour New Year's Eve bell-ringing. He and Bunter continue on their way a day or so later. However, when the corpse mentioned above is discovered a few months later, Lord Peter is asked to assist in uncovering the mystery alongside the local police.

This is the first Lord Peter Wimsey novel that I have read though I was aware of the reputation of Dorothy L. Sayers and this series. It was selected by one of my reading groups as we wished to compare an example of the Golden Age of Detectives with two examples of modern detective fiction.

I certainly found it very enjoyable with plenty of twists before the mystery was solved. I did feel that given this was one of the later novels in the series that the character of Lord Peter was very well developed and while this works as a stand alone, I wished we had selected one of the earlier ones for that development. I may well read the early ones as they are available on Kindle. Unconventional and quite compelling, I can see why these novels have proved so popular over the years and remain highly readable 80 years on.

As a couple of group members were still reading we could not discuss 'whodunit' but did discuss other aspects such as Sayers attention to detail and her excellent sense of place in her depiction of the East Anglia Fens and the lore of bell-ringing throughout the pages.

Book #20: Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Number of pages: 864

William Makepeace Thackeray's darkly comic novel is mostly about the anti-heroine Becky Sharp and her efforts to climb the social ladder. Becky is very different from most female lead characters in classic novels in that she really is quite selfish, and I got the impression at times that she wasn't meant to be a likeable character. The book also revolves around various other characters, such as Amelia, Captain Dobbin and the vile Marquis of Steyne.

Most of my knowledge of the book came from the 1998 BBC adaptation, and I found the book quite hard going at times, mostly because it was a bit long-winded, with a lot of long sections without dialogue. However, I found myself liking Thackeray's quirky writing style, particularly the way that he constantly addresses the reader. While sometimes it was hard to engage with what was happening, some of the chapters were very enjoyable, particularly the vivid portrayal of the battle of Waterloo.

The book was a mixture of comedy, romance and tragedy, and it seemed to get a good balance between the three. It is quite a long book, but at the end I was satisfied and glad that I had kept going with it.

Next book: Real Lives (D.J. Carswell)

Tiny Lady Gets Ready; Little Cat Wolves

Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed (audiobook)
As I listened to this collection of advice columns, I was surprised to realize how many of them I'd read when they were published - I thought of Dear Sugar as a very occasional visit. And yet. I'd read so many of these before. I very much enjoyed hearing them in Strayed's own voice, too. Some of them were very hard to listen to. Some of them made me cry. And some of them made me feel warm and fuzzy and fortunate to be alive. And those three sets have hella Venn diagram overlap. Also when I was googling the link to the (defunct) Dear Sugar column, I found out Strayed and Steve Almond (a previous Sugar) are doing a podcast now. I am intrigued.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda Williams
Cute Halloween story. Not notable among the slew of very splendid kids' books I've been reading, but it was fun. And I like that the little old lady was the hero of the tale.

Little Mouse Gets Ready, by Jeff Smith
The artwork in this is so very clean that I can picture 4 or 5 different spreads from the book as I wrote this. It didn't really feel like a Jeff Smith book (same guy that wrote Bone) until the ending. Which was great.

The Cat, by Jutta Richter
A short and odd story about a girl and a cat. Although it is mostly text, the images stayed with me more than the text did.

Wolves, by Emily Gravett
So very very much fun, this book! Exactly the kind of scary-andbut-amusing that I loved as a kid, with the attention to detail of Roald Dahl or Joan Aiken, only in a very simply-plotted picture book for kids. <3.

Open This Little Book, by Jesse Klausmeier
I was delighted by this book. As in I sat there and reread it 4 or 5 times in succession. If I were still a little kid I would've literally been clapping my hands with glee. I came close, even now. I made birdmojo read it, and he made a joke about changing it just to get a rise out of me, and even though I knew he was deliberately provoking me, I STILL got indignant. Because this is one of those books that is perfect exactly as it is. Oh, I should tell you something about it. It's a whole bunch of stories tucked inside each other, and each story is in its own progressively smaller book... though ti gets a bit more complex. And every story is both a splendid example, but also slightly mocking, a particular type of somewhat old-fashioned children's book that I read many of as a kid. So, you know, EEEEEEEEEEEEE.
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