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20 November 2015 @ 07:15 pm

“Temperament does not predestine one man to sanctity and another to reprobation. All temperaments can serve as the material for ruin or for salvation…It does not matter how poor or how difficult a temperament we may be endowed with. If we make good use of what we have, if we make it serve our good desires, we can do better than another who merely serves his temperament instead of making it serve him.”

-Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
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09 November 2015 @ 01:27 am

Book Blurb:

The stunning conclusion to the trilogy that began with the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke award-winning Ancillary Justice.

For a moment, things seemed to be under control for Breq, the soldier who used to be a warship. Then a search of Athoek Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist, and a messenger from the mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's enemy, the divided and quite possibly insane Anaander Mianaai - ruler of an empire at war with itself.

Breq refuses to flee with her ship and crew, because that would leave the people of Athoek in terrible danger. The odds aren't good, but that's never stopped her before.

I began this book with a lot of trepidation. I remembered the basic plot and loved the characters from Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword (my review), but didn't remember the specifics. I simply didn’t have enough time to re-read the previous books, and I was also very afraid that Breq would sacrifice herself for the Greater Good.

These particular qualms were soon sorted out -- but there were other issues. Perhaps the only biggest fault of Ancillary Mercy is that it’s not the first book. The same world building that hits you like lightning in the first book is old hat by now. For the first 25% of the book, I felt I was reading about the same situation again: a kind of ceasefire at the Athoek Station, where Fleet Captain Breq’s ship is stationed, and her crew is waiting for something ominous to come out of the neighbouring ghost gate.

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07 September 2015 @ 09:45 pm

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I am not a fan of dragons, so I have not tried Novik’s more popular Temeraire series (also to be filmed soon by Peter Jackson of LoTR fame). A decision I need to change, obviously, if the series is anything like Uprooted. Because this book. This. Book. It is written like a fairytale, it has a juicy mystery that keeps you on tenterhooks, it speaks of relationships that are realistic and beautiful, and it has cover art which is glorious. What's not to love?
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18 August 2015 @ 10:49 pm

The night is darkening round me,

The wild winds coldly blow;

But a tyrant spell has bound me,

And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending

Their bare boughs weighed with snow;

The storm is fast descending,

And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,

Wastes beyond wastes below;

But nothing drear can move me;

I will not, cannot go.

Current Location: Forbidden Planet
Current Mood: groggygroggy
Current Music: What's Going On? - Sens8
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Publisher: Hachette Audio (2014)
Narrated by: Robert Glenister

Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo's Calling. When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives--meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced. When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.

To be honest, I don’t think I would have read this book if I’d not known that Robert Galbraith was J.K. Rowling. That’s not an aspersion on the quality of the book itself; however, several mystery books come out every year, how many of them actually get pulled into the light? But The Silkworm did, because, well, it’s the second book in the new mystery series by Rowling.

The blurb does a good job of explaining the plot and Glenister narrates the audiobook well, especially the character of Cormoran Strike. It’s clear from the audio version that Cormoran is a gruff and large man, a good employer and a kind man. I personally think that women always make better audiobook narrators because they have a broader range of voice modulation for both male and female characters. Most male audio narrators make women sound as if they are screeching, whispering, or flat-out childish. Glenister doesn't do that, so that's to his credit.

There is a lot of focus on the actual process of detective work, even the smaller daily rituals (sometimes more than the focus on the dangerous side of a detective’s work). Inevitably, therefore, the book is not very fast-paced and despite the dark tenor of the premise, there wasn’t really a time when I was on tenterhooks as to what would happen next. Well, The Silkworm is definitely not a “thriller”. But the whodunit reveal towards the end was quite unexpected, and for that, The Silkworm gets brownie points. I haven't read the first book in the series, so I can also tell you that The Silkworm can be read as a standalone, which is something that Rowling aka Galbraith has always managed exceptionally well.

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Current Mood: creativecreative
Current Music: Michael Learns to Rock - Eternal Love

My earliest memory of apocalyptic references is from the movies The Omen and The Seventh Sign *rolls eyes* and I remember a heated discussion at the locker rooms/ near the water cooler about the grave signals that apocalypse is imminent. Unlike Buffy, however, I could not shrug it off with an irreverent: "If the apocalypse comes, beep me." Ten years later, I saw the book "Picturing the Apocalypse" on Net Galley, and as I am interested in art, especially books which dissect art, I requested an ARC.
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Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed
Current Music: Outlander OST (Vol. I) - Bear McCreary
04 April 2015 @ 03:14 pm

"... The strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time — filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured."

~ John Koenig, about his work, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
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Current Mood: enthralledenthralled
Current Music: Jamie Woon - Shoulda

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne-or his life.

I picked up this book last year, only to shelve it again within the first few pages itself. This cycle repeated again and again; the only reason I didn't give up on it entirely is because I felt too bad about dismissing a book as DNF without giving it even twenty odd pages, especially when everyone I knew was positively raving about it. Finally, I took up the audiobook -- and lo and behold, I finally realized why The Goblin Emperor makes for such a great read.

Simply put, this is the tale of how the underdog became emperor, and who doesn't love the underdog winning?

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Current Music: Tomorrow Will Be Kinder- Secret Sisters
20 February 2015 @ 07:29 pm
From the song "Anthem" by Leonard Cohen
The birds they sang at the break of day...
"Start again," I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah, the wars they will be fought again
The holy dove, she will be caught again
Bought and sold, and bought again
the dove is never free.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
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Current Music: Anthem - Leonard Cohen
We are all completely beside ourselves. With rage. With grief. With helplessness. That’s what the narrator of the book, Rosemary Cooke, tells us, how seemingly innocuous little decisions and innocent accidents can snowball into something disastrous. Rosemary is the daughter of a psychologist – and that in itself, is a major plot giveaway, because when you see a psychologist in the midst of the first few pages, you know something’s going to go very wrong.

Something’s gone wrong in Rosemary’s life – she used to be a bubbling chatterbox as a kid, but now she’s a quiet girl, looking for ways to become invisible. Her sister’s missing, her brother’s run off and joined an activist group, and her parents won’t talk about either of them. The first half of the book is a glimpse into Rosemary’s character, and a witty but sad thing is that glimpse. The second part— now that’s the part that throws everything for a toss.

Stop here, if you are afraid of spoilers.
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Current Music: Meghan Taylor - Lips are Movin'