Top Ten “Tuesday” – Bookish Couples

I love Top Ten Tuesday and rarely post for it–but this seemed like a perfect topic for Valentine’s Day!  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, with a new topic each Tuesday.  This week, it’s romance.

I wandered through my bookshelves, and pulled out a stack with my favorite romances in them–with a few bonus bromances and womances.  In no particular order…

1) The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig
Arabella and Turnip – I’ve written at length about these delightfully unconventional romantic leads, who are overlooked by everyone but each other.

2) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane and Mr. Rochester – I know he has some serious problems…but Bronte punishes him so thoroughly and humbles him so completely that by the end of the book I really believe their romance.  And the last section is rather adorable.

3) Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Catherine Morland and Mr. Tilney – Mr. Darcy is the famous Austen hero, but I ❤ Mr. Tilney instead.  A smiling man who reads Gothic novels and knows his muslins–what’s not to love?

4) Enchantress from the Stars by Silvia Louise Engdahl
Elana and Georyn – The only bittersweet ending on my list, a beautiful love story about two people from, literally, different worlds, who change each other forever but can’t ever be together.

5) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer:
Well, everyone – This quartet has four wonderful, engrossing love stories.  Cinder and Prince Kai were a hair behind the others; Scarlet and Wolf were as marvelous as Winter and Jacin; and my favorites were Cress and Thorne.  I have a soft spot for charming rogues with good hearts.

Continue reading “Top Ten “Tuesday” – Bookish Couples”

Mini-Monday: Tamora Pierce Revisited

I’ve been doing a lot of audiobooks recently, and I decided to revisit a few Tamora Pierce books–although rather than listening to favorites, I ended up revisiting a few I was on the edge about, to see how they’d feel on another read.  The results were mixed!

Street Magic

Tamora Pierce has two big, long-ranging magical series with subsets within them, Tortall and the Circle of Magic books.  While everything is good, I give a definite edge to the Tortall series.  However–Street Magic is my favorite of the Magic Circle books, and I was happy to see it held up well on a reread.

The Magic Circle books center around four young mages, Briar, Sandry, Daja and Tris.  The first four books develop their foster sibling relationship and the discovery of their respective magical gifts.  The next set of four books sends each of them on separate adventures.  Street Magic follows Briar, gifted with plant magic, as he takes on his first student, street kid Evvy, and tangles with the gangs interested in Evvy’s stone magic. Continue reading “Mini-Monday: Tamora Pierce Revisited”

Friday Face-Off: Heroic Covers

Today I thought I’d try a different-for-me meme, and join the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.’ – A cover featuring a hero

One of my favorite bookish heroes is, of course, Alanna the Lioness in Tamora Pierce’s wonderful book series.  I thought I’d highlight the second book in the series, In the Hand of the Goddess, because I’m fascinated by how cover illustrators handle the issue of a female hero disguised as a boy.  The answer is…not very well!

We start here with this rather awful cover, which clearly did not even try to depict Alanna’s disguise.  It’s an action sequence and her hair is the right color, which is about all I can say for it.

This cover graced the library copy I read the very first time I encountered this book, so I have a nostalgic fondness for it.  I like the drama of the moment and the framing of Alanna, as well as the nice detail in the setting.  She at least isn’t showing much figure, but that hair isn’t helping the disguise.

This cover wins for the most convincingly androgynous protagonist–she actually could be a girl disguised as a boy, and neither the disguise or the true gender seem impossible.  I like the clothing choice and the sword hilt too.  It’s just too bad she has such a glowery expression!

By contrast this one has a great expression, resolute and defiant, and I like the hair style.  I want to love this cover, probably for the expression alone.  If she was just standing a little less model-like, with a little less figure…well, then I could more easily forgive it for not only getting the color of her magic glow wrong, but also the color of her horse wrong.  And is it really safe to hold a sword like that?

This is the cover on my copy, and I like the detail of it a lot.  Someone actually read the book because there’s a lot of elements in play correctly here: the purple glow for the magic, the horse in the background, the jewel on the sword hilt and the necklace.  Points for putting Faithful on her shoulders too, and the ghostly Goddess hands look protective and evoke the title nicely.  If she just looked a little more boyish (and what’s with the tunic/miniskirt?) this would be the break-away favorite.  Instead, I’m calling it a tie with this next one.

This is just a little bit busy–but I’m liking all the detail in her clothing, we get Faithful, the magic necklace, and the Goddess hands, plus a convincing job done on that disguised-as-a-boy aspect–which obviously is a stumbling point often!

Cover comparison really is pretty fascinating 🙂  Especially with a book as difficult to depict as this!

 

Book Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

I mentioned recently that the long (loooong) awaited new Tamora Pierce book was finally out.  I got it from my library, and then (because life is busy) spent a couple weeks reading it.  So how did Tempests and Slaughter, Book One of the Numair Chronicles, turn out after all this time?

Well…I should say that very few things could live up to the amount of build-up that came before this book.  It reminds me of the third season of Sherlock.  The answer to the worst cliffhanger I’ve ever seen had so much pressure behind it, I had little hope that the pay-off would actually work.  The fact that it did was, in a meta kind of way, as satisfying as the actual answer.  But I mention this because of its rarity…and this is all a big, long, almost apologetic and avoidant lead-in to saying that, after all these years of waiting, Tempests and Slaughter was, well…okay.  Not a bad book!  But only okay.

The tale focuses on young Arram Draper, who will someday grow up to be the Numair we know from earlier (but chronologically later) Tortall books.  (Some spoilers to follow, but only if you haven’t read the Daine books.)  Arram is a student mage at the great Carthaki University.  He is troubled by the gladiatorial games held in Carthak, and by the acceptance of slavery within the empire, but he loves his classes and excels at them.  He becomes friends with Ozorne, a minor prince of the realm, and Varice, a lively, beautiful girl Arram harbors a crush on.

I’m not sure where to stop this summary, so I guess I’ll just stop here.  The dilemma points to what is in fact the weak point of the story–there’s not much story.  The premise is lovely, but there’s little plot, no driving direction to the book, no strong climax to pull threads together.  It’s somewhat like a Harry Potter book without Voldemort.  After all these years of waiting, this book felt more like a set-up to (the promised) book two, when presumably some hinted conflicts will finally come to the forefront.

Arram is a likable character, honorable and genuinely excited by his studies.  I did like reading about a magic-learning character who wants to learn.  So often the trope is for the main character to be largely disengaged from learning (creating opportunities for incidents through mishaps and school stress), perhaps with a friend (hi, Hermione!) who is more scholarly.  Arram has his share of mishaps, usually because his magic is too strong, and I liked his earnest desire to learn. Continue reading “Book Review: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce”

Blog Hop: Bookish Collections

book blogger hopThis week’s Book Blogger Hop question: Do you collect things that are book related? Like bookmarks, nameplates, 1st editions…

I mostly just collect books!  I wouldn’t say I have any collections of bookish things, but I do have a handful of souvenirs that I bought because of their bookish connections…

P1030436I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour earlier this year, and couldn’t resist buying a wand at what must be the coolest gift store ever (boxes of wands, piled everywhere!)  You can get pretty much any character you could possibly want, but I decided on Hermione’s, because it’s gorgeous but more importantly because–seriously, Hermione?  SO awesome. Continue reading “Blog Hop: Bookish Collections”

Classic Review: Song of the Lioness Quartet

I feel like I talk about Tamora Pierce and her wonderful Song of the Lioness Quartet fairly often…but it was a long time ago that I actually reviewed the books!  Since I’m a little occupied this week with releasing my new novel (which happens to be about a strong heroine in a magical world), it seems like an appropriate time to dust off this review about one my favorite strong fantasy heroines!

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I’m going to try–I really am–not to wax too enthusiastic today.  But it’s hard when I’m talking about a favorite series–when it would actually not be inaccurate to use phrases like “changed my life” and “favorite character ever.”

Am I talking about some great inspirational work?  Well…not a traditional one.  I’m talking about the Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce.

The first book is Alanna: The First Adventure.  Alanna is a girl who wants to become a knight, except that girls aren’t allowed to become knights.  So she disguises herself as a boy and sets out to become one anyway.  Alanna is an incredible character.  When I was younger, I basically wanted to be her when I grew up.  She’s stubborn, determined, and incredibly brave, but also human–she makes mistakes, she has struggles, and she’s not always sure of herself.  She was my favorite character when I was a kid, out of any book I’d read. Continue reading “Classic Review: Song of the Lioness Quartet”

Weighing Down the Shelves…

Before I get to the actual focus of this post, just a note about novel news!  Last week I told you The Storyteller and Her Sisters was available for pre-order on Kindle.  If Kindle’s not your thing, you can now pre-order other ebook formats through Smashwords!  All ebooks will be delivered, and the paperback will go on sale, on October 10th.

Now on to other business…

I’m really dreadful at keeping up with Top Ten Tuesday (even though it’s such a cool meme!) but every so often I see that they’ve done a neat topic I’d like to write on…so even though it’s Friday, and even though this was the topic for several weeks ago, today I’m going to write about the Top Ten Authors I Own the Most Books By.

1) Edgar Rice Burroughs: 56
It helps that he was extremely prolific.  There’s probably still a good 15 books I don’t own.  Though perhaps I should point out, of my 56, 54 of them work with the same two plots: the hero is castaway or the heroine is kidnapped, or both.

2) L. M. Montgomery: 47
You expected this one, right?  That breaks down into 21 novels, 12 collections of short stories (200 total stories), 6 volumes of her journals (7, but one is an abridged version of 2 others), 3 books of letters, 2 books of poetry, 2 collections of early writings, and 1 autobiography.  And…that’s going to stay as-is because there’s nothing else to buy, until someone digs out another archive and publishes something new.  (Though I also have two biographies and two collections of critical essays…) Continue reading “Weighing Down the Shelves…”