palmedfire: (Read in 2011)
#11 - Order of the Stick: Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales by Rich Burlew

I actually read this a while ago and forgot to type up a record here! *blush* Anyway, "Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales" is a collection of (totally awesome) Order of the Stick comics, none of which have much bearing on the big plot, but all of which are great fun. It reprints the strips that had been in Dragon magazine, a fun 3.5 versus 4.0 edition war comic, and the various characters telling their favorite stories that get... messed up by the rest of the folk. I think that was my favorite section, especially Roy attempting to retell Hamlet and Belkar totally screwing it us 'cause he thinks it's 'boring'. Lots of fun! Definitely a good purchase to add to the OOtS library

#12 - Ash by Malinda Lo

One of the good things to come out of the epic 2011 sexism wars on was a recommendation of this book (and her other novel Huntress) as examples of novels with GLBT protagonists where sexuality isn't a big deal.

Ash is, at it's heart a retelling of Cinderella. With fairies. Basically, Ash was born and raised near The Wood, which is reputed to be the home of the fae. Most people have never seen one though, and most don't really believe the old tales. Her mother did, but she dies at the beginning of the book. Her father remarries, but then dies. Ash's stepmother moves away from the village and back to the city, with Ash and her two daughters. When she discovers Ash's father died deep in debt, she makes Ash work as her servant to pay off the debt.

She escapes the house occasionally and travels into the Woods where she meets a captivating and dangerous Fae man named Sidhean. He seems to be everything she wants but he won't take her away from her life like she wants. And then she meets Kaisa, the king's Huntress. And slowly, the heart she thought she'd lost when her mother died starts to bloom in love.

It's a really neat story that never quite goes the way you expect it to, and manages to make everything make wonderful, beautiful and surreal sense. I highly recommend it, and can't wait to read her other book.
palmedfire: (Read in 2011)
The Dark Wife by Sarah Deimer (Read on Nook)

I read this one in a day, which should tell you something right there. I mean, I do read insanely fast, but I'm also easily distracted, especially is a book is slow getting started.

The Dark Wife is a YA retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone, with a genderswaped Hades and a far more consensual romance, all told from Persephone's point of view. And yes, Hades is genderswaped but Persephone is not, so it's a lesbian romance. I'm totally okay with this.

It is a very good book, though I felt the ending was rushed, and I could tell the author was reluctant to put her characters in serious danger. But all in all, it was a well written story, and the romance between Hades and Persephone was really sweet. Then again, I'm a sucker for lesbian romance of the fantasy flavor, so I may be a touch biased.

But it was totally worth the $3.99 download price, and I'd certainly recommend it for some fun, fluffy reading!
palmedfire: (Read in 2011)
Nonfiction totally counts for this!

How NOT to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and how to Avoid Them - A Mistep-By-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman.

I read far more books about writing than I probably should for the limited amount of writing I actually do. But this one was a lot of fun. Despite the tongue-in cheek title, it's actually very helpful, because they do go through the common stumbling blocks of unpublished writing, complete with hilarious over the top examples. And they keep their advice simple, straight forward and to the point.

Good book to have on your shelf if you're like me and still harbor illusions of becoming a writer some day
palmedfire: (Read in 2011)
Yay going to Portland means I got books read!

Book #7 Eon by Alison Goodman - Continuing my love of young adult fantasy novels and my love of girls disguising themselves as boys, I picked this one up at Borders months ago, but only started reading it on the flight out to Portland. Finished it in a day, it was that good. It's very Chinese myth-inspired, but the author has really made the world her own and not just "fantasy China". It's a fascinating story, and the main character is very gripping. She makes many mistakes, all while trying to do what she thinks will help, only to have things go more and more awry. I picked up the sequel at Powell's and am looking forward to how this all turns out.

Book #8 - Family Ties & Torn Skies by various authors, including myself - Well, I figured since I've been doing so much shameless self promotion for this, I should read the whole thing myself. I'd read most of the stories on the Torn World site, but it was neat to read them all in a bunch. As with any anthology there are some stories that are stronger than others, but overall it was very good. And I gained a bit more appreciation for the Northerner culture, which thus far hadn't really grabbed me. I still prefer the Empire, but that's a personal thing. It's also kicked back my desire to write more, which is always a good thing.

Normally I don't cross post these, but I'm going to do so for this one because of my review of Family Ties & Torn Skies. If any LJ-folk wanna see what else I've read this year, hop on over to my Dreamwidth and follow the 'read in 2011' tag.
palmedfire: (Read in 2011)
I've gotten terribly behind on this ;_; So y'all really only gonna get a quick line or two. And so few books! I mean, I read a lot, but it's often spot reading through RPG books. Which totally doesn't count.

Book #4: Basara, vol 1 by Yumi Tamura
I swear this series was written by someone in my head. Girl masquerading as her (dead) twin brother to lead people in rebellion against tyrants? What more do I really need? Especially since the layout's straightforward enough it's one of the few manga I can actually follow without getting a headache. Normally I have a lot of trouble reading manga, both because of the right-to-left-ness, and because panel layout tends to be more... uneven? than western comics. But Basara hits the sweet spot.

Now if it wasn't so damn hard to find ;_;

Book #5: Artesia, vol 1: The First Book of Dooms by Mark S. Smylie (author and artist)
(note: this is a re-read)
I was turned onto this graphic novel series via the RPG of it (shut up), which had gotten recommended to me as a good example of lifepath-style character creation. The art in the game was really neat (done by the same man who does the comic), and the world background sounded facinating. So when [personal profile] everchangingmuse and I were are her comic shop, I had them order me volume one. And now I also has volumes 2 & 3, so I decided to re-read vol. 1. It really is an amazingly fascinating story, with a very strong, sex-positive female main character who totally kicks ass. There's a lot of nudity, but it's not gratuitous or done just for cheesecake purposes. It's something I highly, highly recommend to anyone really.

Also, why did I just now find out volume 4 is out?

Book #6: Penny Arcade: Attack of the Bacon Robots! by, well, the Penny Arcade boys.
And now for something completely different. Picked this up at McKays today and read through it this evening. It's a collection of their webcomic strips from 1998-2000, and it's interesting to see how much better their art is now. Really, Penny Arcade just amuses me.
palmedfire: (Read in 2011)
So I decided that due to my obsession/fascination with the musical version, I felt a need to reread Romeo & Juliet.

Now in the interest of being upfront and honest about such things, I am forced to admit that R&J has long been one of my least favorite of Shakespeare's plays. Even above and beyond the fact that I generally prefer his comedies to his tragedies, R&J has long struck me as less a 'timeless, epic tale of tragic love' and more a 'misguided lust makes teenagers do stupid shit' story. But I so completely buy Hoshigumi's version of the musical I thought it was only fair to give the original source another shot.

General verdict is, no, I still dislike it greatly. Romeo especially reads as being motivated more by lust and overly romantic ideals of perfect love rather than genuine love for Juliet. There's nothing really different in how he talks about Juliet than in how he talked about Rosaline at the beginning of the play, except in the fact that she returns his affections. If the duel with Tybalt hadn't happened, I wonder if Romeo wouldn't have found his eye wandering once the initial rush of "ZOMG Twu Luv!" wore off.

Juliet's love for Romeo I believe slightly more, if only because she's far more level-headed about it. I mean granted, she does do the whole "fake her death" thing, but that's because she doesn't want to break her marriage vows. Despite her nurse being all like "Oh Paris is such a better catch anyway" >.< And I realize it's Values Dissonance, but the fact that Juliet's only thirteen really squicks me.

I think, when it comes down to it, R&J just isn't a story I can buy into on paper. Even most stage and screen productions leave me sort of flat. Ah well, I suppose I'm just not much of a romantic at heart
palmedfire: (Read in 2011)
Well, I'm not reading as fast as some of the other people on my flist who are doing this, but I'm trying not to worry about that. Just going to keep plugging away at this.

I picked up Soulless right before Christmas, on recommendation from [personal profile] zehavit_lamasu and to bump my Amazon order up enough for free shipping. Only just got around to reading it, but that sort of thing happens a lot in my house. Too many books, such a trial ;)

So, about the book: Soulless is a roughly Victorian-era, steampunk AU sort of book, set in a London where vampires and werewolves not only do exist, but are part and parcel of society. There's some very interesting things set up about the supernatural society - the idea that one needs an excess of soul to be turned into either vampire or werewolf (if you don't have sufficient soul, the change kills you), and the idea that while werewolves have packs, vampires have hives, which isn't something I've seen before. Then again, I'll admit to not having read a ton of vampire lit.

Anyway, our main character is a wonderfully strong-willed woman named Alexia Tarabotti. Alexia is far too bright and blunt for her social status and time period, and also has no soul. This gives her the ability to neutralize supernatural powers, which is either incredibly handy, or rather inconvenient depending. Often both at once.

I truly loved this book, Gail Carriger manages to be incredibly witty and amusing all through the story, even when the situation is getting bad. Alexia is a compelling character, so perfectly in-voice for the time period, but yet so a women who would have done much better born later in history.

I am looking forward to picking up the rest of the series (Changeless, Blameless and Heartless) at some point.
palmedfire: (Read in 2011)
So like [personal profile] everchangingmuse I've decided to keep track of all the books I read this year. And since I just got my NOOK eReader, I've also decided to keep track of which ones I read on the Nook versus paper books I read.

So, book 1 for 2011 - The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold. The first book of the Vorkosigan Saga, which is one of those sci-fi series I've heard a ton about but never read. And it's very popular for Yuletide. So when I found out the Baen Publishing has released one of the books for free digital download I thought 'hey, why not'?

I'm glad I did. The Warrior's Apprentice introduces us to Miles Vorkosigan, who is a member of the Vorkosigan family who are essentially nobility on his home planet of Barrayar. He wants to go into the military like all his male relatives, but fails the physical fitness test rather spectacularly. Which then cascades into a series of fascinating events, piling one on top of one another, taking him far from home and then back again.

It was quite a fun read, with lots of twists and turns to the story I was not expecting, but made perfect logical sense. Miles was a great character, always just flying by the seat of his pants and yet still somehow managing to make everything work. I don't want to spoil anything, so a lot of what I liked I can't really mention. But I'm definitly going to be hunting down more of these!

In terms of reading it on my NOOK, I have to say, I love how easy it is to just pick it up and read a page or two, and to be able to pick it up and put it down without worrying that I'll lose my place.


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