Saturday, April 28, 2012

Elemental Magic

I kind of feel I should read something other than Urban Fantasy. I do have a LONG list of books  that I want to read - many of with are not UF. Not that there's anything wrong with UF. Clearly I love it. Also, apparently I don't read much else. But who's fault is that? Not mine. No way it's mine.

I was sent an e-book copy of Elemental Magic by Angela Wallace and I was pretty excited for similar reasons to why I was excited to read Seanan McGuires Discount Armageddon - both authors are taking a slightly different angle to the traditional UF read - McGuire threw in cryptozoology and Wallace threw in elemental manipulation. Most of the other books I've read that use elementals as a theme are more traditional sci-fi/fantasy/historical, so it was interesting to see it from a more 'modern' angle.

I thought the lead character was interesting - Aileen is an insecure, slightly dense romantic, workaholic who was trying to live up to pretty high family responsibilities. Her male counterpart is a Coast Guard (look, it's cliched to be like 'oooo guy in a uniform' but... lets not kid ourselves. oooo. Guy in a uniform).

 I would almost argue that Elemental Magic is more of a paranormal romance then straight up Urban Fantasy, but I'm not quite sure, because the line between the two is really more of a scattering of sand, then any sort of real line. I didn't love this book, but I liked it, and am interested in where Wallace is going with the series.

One thing I just noticed (yeah, I'm super perceptive.) (I mean, I always knew this. I'm a librarian, we know everything)  is that Angela Wallace self-published this book. Major high-five to her for that. One of the things I will say is that this book didn't have the heavily-edited feel that a lot other books do. There are pros and cons to that, but what ends up coming through is Wallace's voice. I would love to see what Wallace can do with the backing of a publisher behind her, because she's doing pretty damn good without one! It's well worth a read, and I'm glad it's part of a series.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

And now, for something from total left field

This blog has been so boring. All books? All the time? BORING. Life has had some pretty wild changes recently - I ended my 5 year long relationship (apparently we're being honest with each other internet. I'm not gonna lie, it's a little awkward.), our dog is now his dog and most awkwardly of all, he and I are still good friends. I know that sounds weird, but it actually is worse, trust me. Breaking up with someone and hating their guts would be nice because you can have closure. We'll always be good friends, we're to terrifyingly similar to not be. That, and I'm looking forward to his future girlfriends hating my guts. I'm going to spoil the shit out of his future children. Why? WHY NOT.

Um. Anyways.  I'm also planning two fairly major trips in the next year with one of my BFF's. He and I are going to Australia over Christmas (and then I'm going to go to Bali, because I've already been ripped out of one trip to Bali, I'm not going to be ripped out of two). While in Australia, we're going to go to Fraser Island and I am going to ride a Humpback Whale. I'm going to name him Mr.Cuddles Von Bitsy and I am going to keep him in my bathtub. Totally practical, I know. No really though, We're going to be there for the Humpback Whale migration, and while I will be too terrified to get anywhere near the ocean when Giant Fucking Mammals are breaching close by, I will have a million pictures.

This picture is Fraser Island. I know right?

This same friend is having a mid-life crisis (which is a little awkward, cause he's only 26, and that means that a) he dies at 53, or b) he has another mid life crisis at 53 (actually, I guess that's common, so that's ok). Anyways, he's got the same travel bug I do, and We're also planning a trip to Egypt/Africa in May of 2013 which coincides nicely with my birthday.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shadow of Night

Sometimes, being a librarian is useful. Ok, a lot of the time it is. Specifically, when you have access to great websites like Netgalley. I qualified for receiving an early ebook of Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness, which basically thrilled me because I couldn't wait to read it after reading a Discovery of Witches. A lot happens in this book - it's almost 600 pages long and includes visits with Royalty, Scholars, Witches, Vampires, Daemons (but not a Werewolf. The Werewolf is a lie) (Werewolf? There wolf. There castle) (Sorry).

I'm gonna throw this out there, and I realize it will be a little contentious. I think this is more a series for grown ups. Not because there's all sex, all the time like Laurel K, but because this really is an intense historical book. I am completely willing to acknowledge I am a huge history nerd - I did my undergraduate in History, specifically Fin de Seicle France (guys, they had museums, where they would dress dead bodies found in the river up and make up stories about dramatic royal fiascos) (and there was a whole problem with women throwing acid in men's faces. It was a big problem.) and I generally like anything remotely having to do with history. So a book that takes place in the past, when Kit Marlowe and Shakespeare were alive? Yes. Please.

... Anyways... I do kind of wonder if people who aren't into history as much as I am will find all of the details a little overwhelming. That being said, I think a large part of why I like Harkness and this series is because what she writes about is what I studied, and when I read her I can't help but feel her writing of the past is reflective of the History profs I loved most. The ones who make history come alive, turn it into something more real then primary sources can make it. The story behind the document if you will. I'm digressing. I do that sometimes. (Also, I totally see this in Diana, so I empathize with her. History is written by the winners guys - seeing it first hand would be... interesting at the very least).

I did find this book did somehow ... drag(?) a bit more than A Discovery of Witches. I hesitate to say drag, because I really did enjoy it - I didn't feel like there were unnecessary parts of the book, and I didn't want to skip through sections to just finish it. Maybe it's I still stand by my earlier I should hate this book but I don't review of the first of the trilogy. I almost want to say this trilogy is a grown up Twilight, but I've never actually read Twilight (really. I haven't. I know, it's a little awkward) and Harkness is a thousand times a better writer then Meyer (ok, that's contentious to say when I haven't read the books. But I can make that statement. My blog.). It wasn't an "easy" read, and by "easy" I mean I didn't plow through it in a night, which I have been known to do.

Pick it up in July. Or now, if you're a librarian and can. But if you can't pick it up in July - I'll be grabbing a "real" copy of it when it's released!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Discount Armageddon

There are mice. Talking. Religious. Mice.

That is all.

Ok, that is not all. Fine. I picked this up because I love Rosemary and Rue as a series.  I dig this book because there are no vampires, werewolves (ok, yet) there is only science. Who doesn't have a secret obsession with cryptozoology? Ok. Maybe obsession is exaggerating. But really, it's a different take on the "traditional" urban fantasy stance - the Boogyman is real, and it's sexist to think that Boogymen are only men.

This book was a lot of fun - McGuire is always great for a laugh. I like how she explains cryptids, and gives a back story for those who aren't as familiar with the less-common mythical creatures. The book felt similar to early Supernatural episodes - there's a whole other world, full of everything that that goes bump in the night, and you were raised by a crazy family who set death traps to make you late to dinner so they could get the last piece of pie. Ok. I made up that part about the pie, but at my house getting the last piece of pie was a big deal.

There are also Mice. Aeslin mice. They're awesome - arguably the best part of the book. Hail. I may have loved them because I just read the Bloggess' Lets Pretend This Never Happened. I kind of picture them in real life, living in her house and it is practically magical. They live with Verity in her tiny sublet apartment and they had me actually laughing out loud. They worship her, and throw festivals to celebrate everything and that's just awesome.

In all honesty, I didn't love this book as much as I love her Rosemary and Rue series. I think as a series it has a lot of potential. I'm iffy on her being a ballroom dancer, but props for moving away from the more 'norm' UF career paths. And for a vampire not being a central character. Yet (?).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

City of Man's Desire: A Novel of Constantinople

I was lucky enough to have won this book in a Goodreads contest. To be totally upfront, I probably would not have bought it on my own. That's not a fact though - I love anything historical (well documented) and have a weird love for Constantinople - or at least the romance of what I imagine Constantinople was. There are a few cities that I feel that way about - Marrakesh, Constantinople, Vienna... cities I would love to visit just because I've built them up in my mind. People always tell me I'll be disappointed, but I wasn't dissappointed when I finally got to Beijing, Florence and Barcelona, so whatever people. Whatever.

Regardless, I was excited to have won this book, and was thrilled when it finally came. I did, however make the mistake of bringing it with me when I went to visit my mom, and since I was "reading too many other books" she promptly stole it and read it first. Traitor. I finally got it back from her, and I devoured it - as much as this book can be devoured. This book is a love-letter to Constantinople, and it's written exactly how I wish I could write to the cities I love.  Golna brings the city to life, you feel like you are there, seeing the people, drinking the Turkish coffee and seeing everything Constantinople was at the turn of the century. 

I loved how Golna writes about this time in the history of Constantinople - it was a turbulent time for the people and the city itself.  The book was very real to me - each of the characters are so humanly flawed which I loved reading about.  I'm a little hesitant to write a review about this book other than I really really enjoyed it.  It's well documented I love historical fiction, and this book did not let me down. It's not a quick and easy read, but it's one I would recommend without hesitation - to fans of historical fiction and not!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lets Pretend This Never Happened.

I've been reading the Bloggess for years, and while I always got a kick out of her posts, it was the idea of tormenting her husband with a Giant Metal Chicken I could get behind. Anyone in a relationship longer than a few years can get behind that, since we all have our Giant Metal Chickens. 

Jenny is basically who I want to be when I grow up - no, really. That's a little terrifying, but it's true. 

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of her book. Basically the best review I can give this book, is that as a librarian I'm pretty much giddy with excitement waiting for the things people will come tell me after they've read this book. From the (boring) I loved that it was an honest look at mental illness and survival (very true) to the (no seriously I can not wait) YOU LET MY CHILD READ THIS AND NOW THEY WANT A DEAD SQUIRREL PUPPET and THIS BOOK IS BLASPHEMY AND READING IT KILLS PUPPIES AND KITTENS.

I pretty much giggled in excitement when I found out I was getting the advance copy, and then waited not really patiently to get my copy and then it came and I was away and that basically destroyed me and there was a 3 day long emotional trauma period. Anyways. I finally got to my copy and it was everything I wanted it to be. Heart-breakingly (also, it tries to auto-correct breakingly to lawbreaking. Fitting) wonderful, actually laugh out loud funny (not just LOL'd) and hands down one of my favourite memoirs and books out there.Go. Buy it. As soon as you can. I might buy it again so I can see the pictures. But then, I kind of loved that they were blurry (they were blurry because it wasn't a final copy.) (though really, they should always be blurry I think.) (it adds to the MYSTERY). But I'm weird.

The book comes out April 17, and is pretty much available everywhere.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Night Circus

I'm guilty of it, you're probably guilty of it - I buy books based on the cover. Look, I know. I'm a librarian. I get it. That's not HOW you should choose a book. There are better ways. I'm also guilty of NOT buying books based on the cover, and missed out on one of my favourite series for years because of it.


At any rate - I was wandering around the book store, and the cover caught my eye - I was burned out from a consulting gig, I wanted something with a bit more ... something ... then the urban fantasy I've been burning through, and a bit less substance than the Biography I've been warily eyeing and knowing I should just start already.  My roommate finished it before I got around to it on the pile of books to read and her liking it is generally a good sign that it's something I'll like.

This book took me forever to read. I read it pretty much a chapter at a time (which is very, VERY unlike me) and it took a solid month for me to finish.  The thing is, it's not because I didn't like it. I get why there were mixed reviews of it, and I get why there was a love/hate relationship with it a lot of readers seemed to have.  It's a bit of a slow book, and very layered - you need to pay attention to a lot of subtleties, or you're just going to get bored.

I, personally wasn't bored. I am firmly on the camp that this is one of the best books since ever, and I'm planning to recommend this book a lot, to (almost) everyone.  The imagery of the Circus was beautiful and made me wish there was something like it - it brought back that childhood memory of the fantasy and whimsy of the Circus' we went to as kids, the same Circus' that going to as grown ups lost a bit of their magic to adult eyes.   The book is high magical realism and I would say even if you end up on the not liking it, it is well worth a read.