Books, books, books…

Posted On 25 October 2014

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Mmm, I’ve been adding to my shelves.  I couldn’t help it!  I blame Wondrous Reads for inventing the ‘ordering finger’ which sometimes slips!  Recent acquisitions include:

Kindle: bought: A Matter of Blood by Sarah Pinborough 

Kindle: Netgalley: The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams (so looking forward to this one!)

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Gift (thank you Wondrous Reads): The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

Others bought:

Fantasy Faction Anthology, 2 x Terry Brooks, The Dark Legacy of Shannara No.1 and 2, and Fevre Dream by GRRMartin:

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She elfs and pumpkin dudes…

Fan Art Up is a weekly meme hosted by Tabitha over at Not Yet Read.  The idea being to see if you can come up with some inspiration for a little sketch or doodle from your last week’s reading or just anything else in general. This week I’m reading various ‘halloweeny’ books.  I’ve finished The Reviver and am now reading The Fall.  Lacking ideas from my reading I attempted a ‘she elf’ roughly taken from Tauriel – but managing to look nothing like her – unless you stand really far away and squint!  I’ve also drawn a seasonal Dude Doodle.  Either I’ve made him very small or I’ve made the pumpkin very large.  Well – you get the idea….he would not be happy if I ever dressed him up – hence the expression!

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“Master has presented Dobby with clothes! Dobby is free!

This week over at the Fantasy Review Barn we’re travelling through the tropes of fantasy again and this time we’re delving into elves:

‘ELVES claims to have been the first people in Fantasyland. They are called the Elder Race. They did not evolve like humans, but sprang into being just as they are now.’

Well, I’m going to admit that I really thought this was going to be a doddle – then I got myself all tangled up in the difference between fae and elves and couldn’t decide if I could have certain examples that I’d chosen or whether they’d count of not! (Doh!!)

Anyways, the two obvious ones: LoTR – there are a LOT of elves in this book to say the least.  Harry Potter – need I mention Dobby!  Really??

My books this week:

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett – I can’t decide if this is cheating or not because I’m still not sure if I can count these as elves.  I tend to think of them as brownies!  Basically I just don’t know if they count but I love the book so it’s going on the list!

The Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs – Bone Crossed has a snow elf!  Can’t remember much about the snow elf to be honest – but still, it’s an elf, right?

Puck from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream. He is definitely described an an elf so I’m feeling good about this one!

The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint – when I read this book I described the little critters as fey – however, they had very much a brownie feel, and the way that they had to be left gifts of clothing and the like was definitely similar to tales of elves – remember Dobby, not to mention the Elves and the Shoemaker!  I think I rest my case…

My last isn’t a book but if I didn’t mention this, well, it would be unforgivable – Link – from The Legend of Zelda.  He has pointy ears, his weapon of choice is a bow and arrow and he dresses like a woodland type person. Elf!

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan (book 2 of Lady Trent’s memoirs)

The Tropic of Serpents is book No.2 of Lady Trent’s memoirs by Marie Brennan.  I really enjoyed the Natural History of Dragons and so was very much looking forward to this one – and it doesn’t disappoint.

I’m enjoying this series in so many ways.  It’s fantasy.  It has dragons.  I enjoy watching Lady Trent developing into her role as natural historian and intrepid adventurer and I love the story telling voice and the era it depicts which has this wonderful faux Victorian quality to it.

The story starts off Virtually as Isabella is about to embark on her next adventure – a journey to Eriga where she will be investigating Swamp Wyrms amongst other species.  This is a difficult journey to negotiate, not only are there the politics to manoeuvre around, not to mention the even more outdated restrictions placed on females, the place itself has plenty of dangers to boot.

Isabella, still in the bad books in her homeland of Scairland where gossip runs amok and most of it concerns her exploits and previous travels, gets off to a bad start by providing shelter and sanctuary to a young runaway heiress who wishes to break free of the restraints of her family and the necessity of marriage.  Of course Isabella gives this young lady a place on board and smuggles her off to Eriga.  Let the gossip and accusations commence!  From there Isabella’s plans are thwarted slightly not to mention delayed considerably when she is, on arrival, invited to stay at the Palace – an invitation that is impossible to refuse without causing offence and potential problems.  Eventually however, she sets off, having been slightly strong armed into a mission that was not her original intention, into the Green Hell where she will be adopted by the Moulish people and have many obstacles to overcome in her quest.  I won’t go further into the plot.

To be honest, I think I liked this even more than the first if that’s possible.  I really enjoyed the first, even though I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but, for me, in this novel Isabella really comes into her own.  She proves beyond doubt that she’s prepared to put up with all kinds of hardship, not to mention, insects, intense weather and personal challenges.  I thought her experiences in the jungle were fascinating and I loved the descriptions and detail – particularly concerning the way the Moulish lived.  I just think it’s an amazingly well done adventure story.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have any although I think that the characterisation (apart from Isabella’s development) could have been a little more focused on.  But, having said that, Isabella really does develop beautifully in this story.  She’s faced with a number of self realisations.  She stands up for herself and others.  She learns her own personal boundaries and comes to terms with how she feels about her own son.  The whole scene with the Moulish driving out bad spirits was fantastic.  So, maybe a bit more character development for her companions – but I wouldn’t say this was an issue really.  I would also mention that if you’re expecting dragons to be swooping through the sky breathing fire and causing chaos you might be disappointed.  This story is more than just a focus on the dragons.  It’s a natural history after all and so whilst Isabella loved all things draconian she is also making a study of the history of development and evolution whilst taking in the habitat and all within the restraints of what is acceptable to the Moulish people who actually worship the Swamp Wyrms.

Overall I think this is beautifully done.  The writing is simply evocative.  The character Isabella is wonderful.  I loved the era in which it’s set and the style of the memoir.

If you haven’t already picked up, I enjoyed this very much and would definitely recommend it to others.  I think if you love alternate historic settings, fiery headstrong young females who refuse to be pigeon holed and are determined to follow their own desires, adventures with life and death situations that seem almost insurmountable and a few dragons thrown in for good measure then this will be for you.  If you’re expecting something of a Victorian bodice ripper where hench and slightly villainous gentlemen come to the aid of the damsel in distress, save her from the dragon whilst sweeping her off her feet and stealing her, ahem, virtue, then, you may be in the wrong place with this book.

There are no stilting romances, no bossy men telling Isabella what she can and can’t do for the sake of propriety and no swords and sorcery.  A natural historian, doing her thing in the deepest, darkest jungle and striving for recognition for her efforts along the way.

I also love that Brennan manages to address issues without necessarily banging on a drum about them and looks at issues not only of equality amongst females but also exclusion through social strata, disability and the necessity of awareness when it comes to other cultures.

I really need another new series… right?

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Well, lets face it, good sense never got in the way of me buying new books.  So, even though I have Mount TBR and it’s threatening to topple any day and probably smother the dog, not to mention the butterfly effect if this little monster finally goes, this doesn’t stop me envying other people’s book purchases and coveting new shiny ones myself.  And, yes – sometimes my ‘ordering finger’ gets a little trigger happy – not to mention that ‘one click’ which is just ridiculously tempting!

So, over at The Broke and the Bookish this week the topic for Top Ten Tuesday is:- 

Top New Series I Want To Start (this includes those started fairly recently)

  1. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie – had this book for a while – I’m saving it for all the lovely sci-fi goodness that’s just kicking off round the blogging community about now.
  2. Generation V by Marie Brennan – tis the season for fangs after all!
  3. Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence – I’ve started this series this year.  And, its awesome sauce already.  I kid you not.
  4. Sidekick by Auralee Wallace.  This was good fun, I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.
  5. Bloodsong by Anthony Ryan – I’ve read the first and have the second waiting to be read.  Bloodsong is so good.
  6. Age of Iron by Angus Watson – I loved this book and can’t wait for the next instalment – which I believe won’t be too long (next Spring?)
  7. Red Rising by Pierce Brown – I really enjoyed this first in series.  It has a lot of promise and I’m excited for No.2
  8. City of Stairs by R J Bennett – Mr Bennett is such a talented author.  I’ve loved all his books and this one was seriously serious!  Epicly epic!
  9. The Copper Promise by Jen Williams – OMG – The Copper Cat.  This is all.  Read this book.
  10. The Broken Road by Teresa Frohock – deliciously creepy, only a novella – I want more from Ms Frohock please.

Look at all the pretty covers precious!

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