132-136

Dec. 9th, 2010 10:52 am
fiveforsilver: (Books [PotS])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
132. Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce
Immortals Quartet, Book 1
Young Adult, Fantasy, 384p

Even in a world filled with magic, Daine Sarrasi's gift with animals stands out, and between her unusual gift and having to hide the secrets from her past, it's easier for her to connect with animals than people. It takes time (and some gentle and not-so-gentle coaxing from friends and mentors) for Daine to come to trust her new acquaintances.

I really enjoy these books and always like the strong women characters that Pierce writes, but she does have a tendency to do things like pound us over the head with the idea that something bad had happened in her past, long before we find out what it is. A few fewer - or more subtle - mentions of how she can't trust these new people with her secret because they'd surely hate her would have been just as effective, if not more so. Regardless, it's a good story and a fun, easy read.

133. Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce
Immortals Quartet, Book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 358p

Daine and her friends are sent to Carthack, to meet with the Emperor. Daine's duty is to see if she can heal the Emperor's pet birds and otherwise to stay out of trouble, but unfortunately for her, the god-touched don't have a choice about where and when they're called on to intervene.

Emperor Mage is another thoroughly enjoyable Tortall story. The Immortals series really improves with each book. I love Daine's interactions with the gods and how she chooses to use her borrowed power in a way that reflects her so very well (and which is not precisely the way she is expected to use it).

134. Realm of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
Immortals Quartet, Book 4
Young Adult, Fantasy, 368p

Daine and Numair go up against a group of magical creatures of a kind they've never seen before and when it turns out that neither Daine's wild magic nor Numair's Gift can effect them, rescue comes from a surprising direction. But now they're stuck elsewhere while war threatens Tortall.

There are a lot of new and interesting characters introduced in this last book in the Immortals series, including various gods, dragons, and other immortals and magical creatures, and Daine's prejudices against Stormwings are tested. The realm of the gods itself is an intriguing place to read about, with different rules from the moral realm and wonders and dangers all its own. It's a fitting end to the series.

135. Spindle's End by Robin McKinley
Young Adult, Fantasy, 422p

A wonderful adaptation of Sleeping Beauty. I love this book - I probably liked fairy tales when I was a kid, but now the kind of story where the princess sits (or lays, as the case may be) around waiting for the prince to rescue her don't appeal to me. This is a much more active story, with the princess taking part in her own defense. The animal characters are fantastic - the different personalities they have are so appropriate to the species. And as always with McKinley's books, the description is incredible, with so much detail that the world seems to come alive.

136. *Gool by Maurice Gee
The Salt Trilogy, Book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 215p (read 110p)

ARC from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

I found Gool a meandering, boring story with characters I had trouble telling apart, dialogue that didn't make sense, and a world I wasn't drawn into. It may have made more sense if I'd read book one of the trilogy, Salt, first but I couldn't find a copy.

136 / 160 books (85%)
60 / 80 *new books (75%)
3 / 7 ^non-fiction (43%)
37334 / 48000 pages. (78%)
Audiobooks: 54h19m

108-112

Nov. 13th, 2010 09:48 am
fiveforsilver: (Books [Alanna])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
108. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness, book 1
Young Adult, Fantasy, 231p

While Alanna (like all of Pierce's characters) is slightly Mary Sue-ish, her story is enjoyable, she and her friends are endearing, and the world Pierce created for them to inhabit is believable. Strong female characters are Pierce's specialty and Alanna is the roughest of the bunch.

109. In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 240p

The entry of romance into her life frustrates and baffles Alanna. All she wants is to become a knight, and these distractions confuse her. Several new characters enters the picture, including one who nobody seems to see as a menace except her.

Another enjoyable book with the strong female lead. Alanna makes her own choices and refuses to be bound by her society's restrictive rules.

110. The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 253p

After achieving her knighthood and defeating a great enemy, Alanna leaves the palace and all her friends to discover who she is and where she belongs.

The third book in this series introduces still more new people and challenges to this growing character. She learns diplomacy and teaching and gains the respect of another race of people. Another enjoyable book.

111. Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness, book 4
Young Adult, Fantasy, 320p

Alanna goes on a quest, determined to prove to everyone (including herself) that she is worthy of her shield. When she returns, great changes have occurred and she is tested even more.

Lioness Rampant is the strongest book in the SotL series.

112. Wolf Speaker by Tamora Pierce
The Immortals, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 344p

112 / 160 books (70%)
56 / 80 *new books (70%)
3 / 7 ^non-fiction (43%)
29744 / 48000 pages. (62%)
Audiobooks: 54h19m

106-107

Nov. 12th, 2010 09:12 pm
fiveforsilver: (Books [Hot cocoa])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
106. *Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Leviathan, book 1
Juvenile, Steampunk/Alternate History, 448p

Alek, the young heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run after his parents are assassinated. Deryn has disguised herself as a boy in order to join the British air fleet. Although they're on opposite sides of a war that's just beginning, this is the story of how they meet.

It is also the story of giant mechanical monsters and enormous genetically-engineered creatures, with which the war will be fought.

Not surprisingly, Leviathan is a fun read with great characters and vivid worldbuilding, aided by Keith Thompson's stunning illustrations. While I was expecting a young adult book and the writing and plotting lean more towards juvenile, it's an excellent book and highly recommended as the first in the series.

107. Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce
Protector of the Small, book 4
Young Adult, Fantasy, 409p

107 / 160 books (67%)
56 / 80 *new books (70%)
3 / 7 ^non-fiction (43%)
28356 / 48000 pages. (59%)
Audiobooks: 54h19m

102-105

Nov. 6th, 2010 11:12 pm
fiveforsilver: (Books [PotS])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
102. Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper series, book 1
Young Adult, fantasy, 563 pages

Terrier is a fun, fast-paced story about Beka Cooper, a former street urchin who is training for Dog (police) work.

The book is set up as Beka's diary or journal but reads like a first-person novel, and as with many of Pierce's heroines, Beka has special features and abilities which help her on her chosen path. It's an enjoyable book, though not without flaws, and a good set-up for the sequel Bloodhound, which is an excellent book.

103. *Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper series, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 538 pages

As much as Kel (Protector of the Small) is still my favorite Pierce heroine, Bloodhound is the best book so far in the Tortall series, if not the best Pierce has ever written. I wasn't overly thrilled with Terrier, but Bloodhound more than made up for it. Bloodhound is well-written and the characters are believable and interesting. The plot strong and intriguing, magic is used occasionally and not as a constant crutch, and Pierce is not afraid to put characters in real, even deadly danger as fits the plot and setting.

I do have two minor technical issues with the book. The first is that, as with Terrier, Bloodhound was supposedly written as a journal but, again like Terrier, it reads like a first-person novel. I've read books in this style that are good reads but also are believably journals, and this is not believably a journal. However, it doesn't detract much from the book and is amusing at times.

The second issue is that it's never explained how the coles (counterfeit coins) are being made. It's not possible to simply melt silver and pour it over brass disks to coat them, and no "silver paint" would match so perfectly with real silver as to fool suspicious people. But as I said, this is a technical issue and it wouldn't have come up if I hadn't studied metalworking, or if I hadn't been so impressed with how Pierce had dealt with metalworking in the Circle series.

Those two small issues aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend the series to anyone who likes a fun fantasy read with a bit of crime drama mixed in.

104. Page by Tamora Pierce
Protector of the Small, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 288p

Page covers Kel's second, third, and forth years as a page. She passed her first year's probationary period and has gained acceptance from many people, but she still must fight prejudice from some quarters, including several teachers, a gaggle of fellow students, and conservative nobles who oppose any change in the status quo.

This book has its ups and downs. The dialogue occasionally knocks me out of suspension of disbelief by being sounding too modern and there are long stretches of time that are glossed over or simply absent because it's a short book covering three years and occasionally this is jarring. However, overall I enjoy the book.

105. Squire by Tamora Pierce
Protector of the Small, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 380p

Kel passed the big exams and has become a squire. Lady Alanna is still not allowed to be near her (for fear that she'll enchant Kel to succeed), dashing Kel's hopes of being her squire, but instead Kel is chosen by Alanna's friend Raoul to squire for him and travel with the warriors of the King's Own.

This is one of my favorite Tamora Pierce books - Kel is my favorite, in my opinion the most realistic and the least Mary-Sueish of Pierce's heroines, in part because she has no innate magical ability and therefore must figure everything out without that kind of help (or crutch). Squire is my favorite of the Protector of the Small books, possibly because Kel is such a quiet and serious character most of the time and in Squire, with Raoul and the men of the Own around, her sense of humor comes out.

105 / 160 books (66%)
55 / 80 *new books (69%)
3 / 7 ^non-fiction (43%)
27499 / 48000 pages. (57%)
Audiobooks: 54h19m

76-77

Jun. 24th, 2010 09:54 am
fiveforsilver: (Default)
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
(still may)

76. Daja's Book by Tamora Pierce
Circle of Magic, book 3
Young adult, Fantasy, 240p

I much prefer Pierce's Tortall books - I prefer nearly any given Tortall book to any given Circle book. A big part of the problem I have with the Circle books is that there are always too many things going on at once, so none of them quite get the time they need to be developed, and so neither do the characters. In Daja's Book, for instance, there is the drought, there is the fire (admittedly the two are connected), there is Daja's problems being a cast-out from her people (since a group of her people come around), there is yet another prideful mage (I think there is one in every book) and prideful noble (likewise) to cause problems and/or discord, and then Daja's and her friends' magics get away from them (more than once).

And that's not even all of it. It's just too much. The book should be half again as long to encompass it all, and all the Circle books are like that. But this is one of the few Circle books that I specifically reread occasionally despite the problems, because certain parts of the storylines resonate with me and I really like Daja.

77. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Adult, Fantasy, 405p

Possibly my favorite book ever. Sunshine is a reluctant heroine who would rather bake cinnamon rolls than kill vampires. The world McKinley created for her to live in is so fascinating (and terrifying) that I love reading about it and learning all the snippets of information that come up in the book alongside the story - what different kinds of demons are like (physically and socially), how magic-using can effect the user; details that make the world seem more solid and there.

77 / 160 books (48%)
41 / 80 *new books (51%)
3 / 7 ^non-fiction (43%)
18724 / 48000 pages. (39%)
Audiobooks: 46h29m

61-63

May. 7th, 2010 08:17 am
fiveforsilver: (Books [open book])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
61. Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce
The Circle Opens, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 355 pages

As with most of the Circle books, there are so many plots and sub-plots going on that it's difficult for any of them to get the depth they deserve. In this book, Daja and her teacher Frostpine are visiting a city to the north. Daja discovers the daughters of their hosts have magical abilities, so they need to be taught, so she needs to find teachers for them and teach them meditation. There are lots of fires going on in the city and Daja starts developing a friendship with a man named Ben who set up a fire brigade, and she decides to make living metal gloves for him so he can be more effective in rescuing people. The aforementioned daughters are teaching her to ice skate. Frostpine is investigating counterfeit coins.

And so on.

Most of the plots overlap or converge at some point, but still it just seems like the book is too short to hold it all. Also, there is a mystery that the reader learns the answer to early in the book and the characters don't discover until near the end. I found that disconcerting and I would have preferred it handled differently.

For all its flaws, it's not a bad book, just one I think could have been better. I enjoy it nonetheless; Daja is one of my favorite Circle characters - maybe I relate to her because of the metalsmithing - and also the Circle characters have less of a tendency toward Mary Sueishness than the Tortall women.

62. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games Trilogy, book 1
Young Adult, Science Fiction/dystopia, 374 pages

Every year, each sector has to randomly pick two teenagers - a boy and a girl - to play in a sadistic event called "The Hunger Games", a fight to the death where the winner gets extra food and gifts for the next year, not just for themself but for their entire sector.

It was wonderful. It was horrible. It was an amazing read, and I am looking forward to the next in the series, although I can already imagine some of the things that will be in it and I'm sure it will be another heartbreaking story.

63. *Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games Trilogy, book 2
Young Adult, Science Fiction/dystopia, 391 pages

In order to save the lives of her friends and their families, Katniss must again pretend to be in love with Peeta on the annual victory tour. Then things get even worse...

Throughout the book, as with The Hunger Games, Katniss sometimes seems a little silly and oblivious. But growing up in her world, it's more amazing to see anyone trust anyone at all than to see someone fight viciously for their own survival. Katniss isn't silly; she's cautious, determined, and very strong.

Catching Fire is an excellent book and possibly even more heartbreaking than The Hunger Games. Again I am looking forward to the third and final book in this amazing trilogy.



63 / 160 books. 39% done!


29 / 80 *new books. 36% done!


3 / 7 ^non-fiction. 43% done!


17859 / 48000 pages. 37% done!
Audiobooks: 23h46m

56-59

Apr. 30th, 2010 02:14 pm
fiveforsilver: (Doctor Who [sonic screwdriver])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
56. Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
Old Man's War series, Book 4
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 336 page

Zoe's Tale is another fantastic book in the Old Man's War universe. Zoe is the adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan, and this book is a retelling of the timeline of The Last Colony from Zoe's perspective. Because she's a teenager, she isn't privy to everything the adults know and do - and, likewise, they don't know everything that happens to her - so Zoe's experience of that time is quite different from her parents'.

Scalzi writes the Old Man's War books so that each of them is a stand-alone as well as part of a cohesive story, and Zoe's Tale is no exception. And although I found it shelved in the adult science fiction section of the bookstore, this was intended to, and in my opinion does, bridge the divide between adult and YA. It is also hysterically funny throughout much of the book. Scalzi wrote Zoe as a brilliant, sarcastic, irreverent character who talks back to adults (human and alien alike) and uses her wits to save the day, yet still manages to act and sound like an believable teenager.

57. Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper series, book 1
Young Adult, fantasy, 563 pages

Terrier is a fun, fast-paced story about Beka Cooper, a former street urchin who is training for Dog (police) work.

The book is set up as Beka's diary or journal but reads like a first-person novel, and as with many of Pierce's heroines, Beka has special features and abilities which help her on her chosen path. It's an enjoyable book, though not without flaws, and a good set-up for the sequel Bloodhound, which is an excellent book.

58. *Doctor Who: The Story of Martha by Dan Abnett, read by Freema Agyeman
Adult/Young Adult, Science Fiction, Audiobook, 2h27m

It's an account of Martha's travels during the Year That Wasn't, while the Master and the Toclafane ruled the Earth.

Since we already know how it's going to end, it could have been extremely boring and drab, and the first half wasn't particularly exciting. But it picked up in the second half and not only becomes a pretty exciting story but also explains several things that were mentioned in the episode Last of the Time Lords.

59. Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Beka Cooper series, book 2
Young Adult, Fantasy, 538 pages

(Copied from previous review)

As much as Kel (Protector of the Small) is still my favorite Pierce heroine, it is my opinion that Bloodhound is the best book so far in the Tortall series, if not the best Pierce has ever written. I wasn't overly thrilled with the first book in the series, Terrier, but this book more than made up for it. Bloodhound is well-written and the characters are believable and interesting. The plot strong and intriguing, magic is used occasionally and not as a constant crutch, and Pierce is not afraid to put characters in real, even deadly danger as fits the plot and setting.

I do have two minor technical issues with the book. The first is that, as with Terrier, Bloodhound was supposedly written as a "journal", but, again like Terrier, it reads like a first-person novel. I've read journal-style books that are good reads but also are believably journals, and this is not believably a journal. However, it doesn't detract much from the book and is amusing at times.

The second issue is that it's never explained how the coles (counterfeit coins) are being made. One can't simply melt silver and pour it over brass disks to coat them. And what kind of 'silver paint' would match so perfectly with real silver as to fool suspicious people? But as I said, this is a technical issue and it wouldn't have come up if I hadn't studied metalworking, or if I hadn't been so impressed with how she'd dealt with metalworking in the Circle series.

But those are small issues, and those two small issues aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes a fun fantasy read with a bit of crime drama mixed in (although you should probably read Terrier first as there are some things that will be pretty confusing otherwise).



59 / 160 books. 37% done!


27 / 80 *new books. 34% done!


3 / 7 ^non-fiction. 43% done!


16495 / 48000 pages. 34% done!
Audiobooks: 23h46m

51-55

Apr. 30th, 2010 10:00 am
fiveforsilver: (Text [So Much Wasted])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
51. *Wizards, Inc edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Loren L. Coleman
Adult, Fantasy, short stories, 306 pages

Most of the stories in this book are so-so but a few - including Theobrama by Diane Duane and No Rest for the Wicked by Mike Stackpole - are very good.

52. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
Young Adult, Science Fiction, 265 pages

(Copied from previous review)

A fascinating book about a girl who was in an accident and remembers very little about it or her existence before. She spends the book re-learning how to use her body, regaining old memories, discovering new things she doesn't know why she remembers at all, and learning things about herself that don't seem quite right.

This book has been compared to Skinned by Robin Wasserman and that is not an unjust comparison, but the two books are different enough that each can be judged on its own merit. In Skinned, Lia is in an accident and is uploaded into a biomechanical body that does not look like her. In this book, Jenna still looks and sounds like herself and some of her body is still her original. Both books are filled with questions about trust and friendship and family and humanity. They also look at a parent's relationship with their children, what they're willing to do - and how far they should or shouldn't go - to save their child's life.

Second time through this book and it was excellent, just like the first time.

53. Briar's Book by Tamora Pierce
Circle of Magic series, book 4
Young Adult, fantasy, 258 pages

The Circle books aren't really my favorite but I still like to reread them occasionally. In Briar's Book, a mysterious plague is infecting the city where Briar and his teacher Rosethorn are working and they must work to contain and cure it.

Briar's Book is not one of the better in the series. It drags with too much description of magical medical practices and the story just isn't all that interesting.

54. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Old Man's War series, Book 1
Adult, Science Fiction, 313 pages

The first book in a series. It's set in a future time, and all elderly people on Earth are given the option of joining the CDF (Colonial Defense Forces) when they turn 75. If you do it, you are taken off Earth and - on Earth, at least - declared legally dead. Nobody on Earth knows exactly what happens next...except that they somehow make you young again, to fight in the war.

I love this book and, in fact, the whole series. Scalzi's writing is energetic and always readable; the story is fast-paced and fun with believable, relateable characters; and he delights in inventing truly alien aliens for CDF to fight against.

55. The Last Colony by John Scalzi
Old Man's War series, Book 3
Adult, Science Fiction, 316 pages

Third book in the Old Man's War series. John and Jane are chosen to head up a colony on a new planet. Except things don't go exactly as expected and along with the normal hazards of colonizing a new planet (unfriendly lifeforms, inedible vegetation, etc), they suddenly discover that they've been made pawns in an intergalactic war.

Excellent as usual from Scalzi.



55 / 160 books. 34% done!


26 / 80 *new books. 33% done!


3 / 7 ^non-fiction. 43% done!


15058 / 48000 pages. 31% done!
Audiobooks: 21h19m

11-13

Feb. 2nd, 2010 11:27 am
fiveforsilver: (Xmen [Angel])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
11.The Sagan Diary by John Scalzi (audio) (1h18m)
Old Man's War series, set between The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony
Adult, Science Fiction

12. *Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater
Young Adult, Fantasy, 352 pages

Finally, a book about faeries that has traditional faeries and an interesting story! Most books I've read with faeries either had Traditional Faeries And A Boring Standard Fantasy Story or new agey punk-type faeries, which are sometimes fun and sometimes not, but nowhere near traditional.

Great writing, great characters, great story.

13. Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce
The Circle Opens, book 3
Young Adult, Fantasy, 355 pages

As with most of the Circle books, there are so many plots and sub-plots going on that it's difficult for any of them to get the depth they deserve. In this book, Daja and her teacher Frostpine are visiting a city to the north. Daja discovers the daughters of their hosts have magical abilities, so they need to be taught, so she needs to find teachers for them and teach them meditation. There are lots of fires going on in the city and Daja starts developing a friendship with a man named Ben who set up a fire brigade, and she decides to make living metal gloves for him so he can be more effective in rescuing people. The aforementioned daughters are teaching her to ice skate. Frostpine is investigating counterfeit coins.

And so on.

Most of the plots overlap or converge at some point, but still it just seems like the book is too short to hold it all. Also, there is a mystery that the reader learns the answer to early in the book and the characters don't discover until near the end. I found that disconcerting and I would have preferred it handled differently.

For all its flaws, it's not a bad book, just one I think could have been better. I enjoy it nonetheless; Daja is one of my favorite Circle characters - maybe I relate to her because of the metalsmithing - and also the Circle characters have a little less of a tendency toward Mary Sueishness than the Tortall women.



13 / 160 books. 8% done!


3 / 80 *new books. 4% done!


0 / 7 ^non-fiction. 0% done!


3236 / 48000 pages. 7% done!
Audiobooks: 9h03m

151-157

Dec. 21st, 2009 12:12 pm
fiveforsilver: (YW [Did I do right?])
[personal profile] fiveforsilver
151. Sorcery and Cecelia, or the enchanted chocolate pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevemer
YA, historical fantasy, 326 pages

152. *Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones
Young Adult, fantasy, 393 pages
Chrestomanci

I thought I read this once before (and really, really liked it) but I remembered almost nothing about it. I liked it this time, but I think I'll need to read it another time or two before I really get what was going on.

153. Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Young Adult, fantasy, 534 pages
Tortall (Beka Cooper)

154. *The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevemer
Young Adult, historical fantasy, 326 pages
sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia

155. Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Young Adult, fantasy, 563 pages
Tortall (Beka Cooper)

156. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
Adult, Science Fiction (humorous), 365 pages

157. The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce
Young Adult, fantasy, 539 pages
Emelan



157 / 157 books. 100% done!


80 / 80 *new books. 100% done!


5 / 10 ^non-fiction. 50% done!


46429 / 45000 pages. 103% done!

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