Archive for the ‘Shelf Life: Book Reviews’ Category

It’s been a while since my last review, in part because it’s been a while since the last time I read a book and came away with enough to say about it to warrant writing it up, but in bigger part because I’ve been working harder on a book of my own. My wife and I have recently finished writing our first full-length, publishable novel together and are now in the process of editing so we can start looking for an agent and a publisher. Between that and my new job, my blog’s fallen down the list of things toward which my literary efforts need to be put.

The Book of Kings by Richard Gilliam and Martin H. GreenbergDuring the tail end of writing this novel, though, I pulled down The Book of Kings from our shelves, a collection of “20 all-original stories of kings and kingdoms, both traditional and fantastical, recounted by such noble tale-tellers as (a bunch of names that probably look at least somewhat familiar).” Our own story is largely centered around the activities of a royal family and the assassin who’s living in their midst, so I thought it would be a good source of inspiration and motivation while I already had kings and their doings on the brain.

And as it turns out, I was right.

Read more; your king commands it

Starting a piece of writing can sometimes be one of the hardest parts of writing it, even for a book review, and especially for this one. I’ve been reading Jacqueline Carey’s adventures in Terre d’Ange for years now, starting with Kushiel’s Dart and just recently wrapping up Naamah’s Blessing. And I can honestly say that the nine books that comprise these three trilogies are among the best fantasy available today as well as nine of my all-time favorite books I’ve ever read. Ask me a question about some aspect of them and I can start rambling for an hour, but how do you pick a spot to begin at with this much to talk about?

Kushiel's Legacy Covers

The first two-thirds of the awesome.

I’ve been meaning to review the Kushiel and Naamah books since I started this blog, but covering just one book on its own is no good – by now, they’ve all melted into one massive and epic storyline in my head spanning multiple generations of characters. Also, it’s been a while since I finished Kushiel’s Dart, and like most series, you have to start at the beginning to fully appreciate what comes afterward.

So instead of talking about a single book in the series or each one individually, I’ve decided instead to write one big ass review to cover my thoughts on the series as a whole. Call it a bittersweet celebration for my finally having finished the last book, a going away party as I finally leave Terre d’Ange behind. Also, seeing as how Ms. Carey herself recently sounded off on the feasibility of the whole shebang being adapted for screen, it’s almost timely.

Read as thou wilt

Very few fantasy fans can get away with admitting that they aren’t all that big into sweeping, high epic fantasy à la Lord of the Rings or the Pern stories or everything that Terry Brooks writes. Many non-fantasy fans, however, can point to these tales as examples of why they aren’t into fantasy. Like it or not, it’s hard not to see the latter group’s point, as a lot of high fantasy is riddled with confusing terminology, rehashed stories, and genre clichés. This is not to say that these stories are bad, per sé, just that they can easily turn off readers who aren’t in the right kind of crowd.

Banewreaker by Jacqueline CareyBanewreaker, the first book in Jacqueline Carey’s two-part volume The Sundering, will probably not change any opinions in this respect, then, as it’s sweeping high fantasy to the core. This, as it turns out, is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness.

Read more about wreaked banes

Fantasy and satire are two of my favorite genres in any medium, but especially so in books. Satirical fantasy, then, holds a special place on my shelves. I grew up on Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and desire to imitate him and his style is what led me in middle school to begin writing in earnest, for fun, and for myself rather than just for my teachers and their assignments.

Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter DavidSo when I picked up Sir Apropos of Nothing, I did so based on the title pun and the back-of-the-book synopsis that promised “a berserk phoenix, murderous unicorns, mutated harpies, homicidal warrior kings, and – most problematic of all – a princess who may or may not be a psychotic arsonist.” I expected another lighthearted riff on the familiar archetypes. Murderous unicorns? Unicorns are not typically described as such! Oh teehee, how unexpectedly humorous!

Read more about nothing

Warning: This particular blog post contains content that’s a bit more grownup than most of the other stuff on here. Not, like, X-rated or anything like that, but a bit dark-ish. M for Mature, perhaps, but not so far as AO for Adults Only.

We’re gonna talk about a book of sex stories and the many disturbing ways that it fails, is the general point here. Nothing to get hot and bothered over, but also not the most appropriate subject for the kids or for reading at work.

If you’re cool with this, click the link below to go to the actual review. If you’re not cool with this, I’m cool with that. Browse elsewhere. No worries.

Read the full Hottest Blood: The Ultimate in Erotic Horror review