I want to have Monthly Reading Journals posted on the first Monday of each month. However, Lucas finally got a place to stay in Portland for August, so all of last week was spent organizing, packing, getting in last minute visits with family, and just being together before he left. That has pushed my writing schedule out a little bit. ^-^
I’m really excited that he was finally able to go up! I am working hard at apartment hunting, and getting the rest of our things packed and ready to go; but it’s possible that I won’t get to see him for a whole month or more… and I miss him a ton already. 😦
Writing this Monthly Reading Journal however, has been a good distraction. The end of February/beginning of March is when I originally read this set, and it’s so fun to look back at my notes about how much I liked most of them. ^-^ Even better, a couple of these five are the first in a series; which means even more good times somewhere down the line.
The Lark and the Wren (Bardic Voices #1)
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Published/By: 1991 / Baen
Thoughts: This is a very interesting book for several reasons. Firstly, it has a very nice take on Bardic society. I’m really a sucker for anything involving bards or harpers, and I really enjoyed the detail Lackey put into the structure of their world. Equally interesting is that this book doesn’t seem to have an over-arching plot. Instead it has several singular arcs that follow the main character, Rune, as she pursues her dreams, gains new ones, and begins to pursue those. All of these smaller arcs feed into one another and, even with a midway addition of a new POV character, the story remains cohesive throughout. It was noticeably different from most books I’ve read. I really enjoyed it. ^-^
Speaking of POVs, I’ve always liked the way that Lackey uses them throughout her work. Even though they sometimes don’t follow the ‘rules’, she always pulls them off well. In this book, for instance, we get a brief POV interlude from someone who is not even a main character. It fits perfectly in the story though, feeling right rather than random.
As a final note: The romantic plots were excellent. ^-^ Yet another thing I’ve come to expect from Mercedes Lackey.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5 stars (Really, really enjoyed it!)
Thomas the Rhymer
Author: Ellen Kushner
Published/By: 1990 / Tor
Genre: Fantasy (I think this one is technically Mythopoiec Fantasy?)
Thoughts: Love, love, LOVED this book! ^-^ As mentioned above, I am especially fond of harpers, and the blend of a classic tale of Faerie with the deeply personal perspectives of each character was just lovely. I read most of it in one day, then finished the rest before work, and it resounded in my head almost all the day after.
Despite being divided among the personal views of four main characters, this story is clearly about one man: Thomas the Rhymer. Yet those who love him dearly play their own important roles in the tale and weave together such a beautiful picture of the man, and of each other. It is like a ballad (which is actually where the story originates), circling back and weaving through itself.
Kusher’s style is gorgeous and poetic. It reminded me strongly of Patricia McKillip; though perhaps a bit easier to keep up with. ^-^
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars. (This is staying on my shelf forever)
The X Factor
Author: Andre Norton
Published/By: 1965 / Ace
Genre: Science Fiction
Thoughts: This is the very first of Andre Norton’s sci-fi stories that I have read, and I found it to be quite enjoyable. ^-^ It’s also a quick read, being less than 200 pages long.
There is a sense of mystery that pervades the story. Something a little harder to put into words is the sort of ancient, ‘elder’, wonder that a lot of the descriptions invoke. Great atmosphere. It’s not something that I have seen in my usual science fiction; although you find it often in Andre Norton’s other works… particularly the Witch World books.
It took me a little bit to really understand why the Diskan was so unhappy in the beginning. He is a very sympathetic main character though, and watching him learn how to survive on his own was very enjoyable. Also, the Brothers-in-fur are awesome. ^-^
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars (Really enjoyed it!)
The Phoenix Bells
Author: Kathryn Grant
Published/By: 1987 / Ace
Thoughts: This book has an interesting plot: Languid emperor is forced to leave the comforts of home (mostly) and go questing for a bride to save the remaining dragons; and with them, both his own kingdom and the world. Really a take on the coming-of-age type of story that I hadn’t seen before. However, I found the writing to be poorly executed. The style is both overly simplified and stuffed to the brim with excessive description. I feel like the author was going for an old, poetic kind of style, but I personally don’t feel it turned out very well.
This is actually the first book in a series, and even ends on an awfully mean cliffhanger… but the series seems to be out of print, and honestly I’m not sure the effort of tracking it down would really be worth it.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 stars (Meh)
The Time Traders (Ross Murdock Series #1)
Author: Andre Norton ^-^
Published/By: 1970 / Ace (This is just my copy, apparently the original came out in 1958. O.O)
Genre: Science Fiction, with a bit of a historical bent to it
Thoughts: Another interesting plot, and one that totally delivers. ^-^ Set in the Cold War, somehow the Russians have discovered a host of powerful inventions; including one that can send people back in time! The Americans manage to copy the time traveling tech, and launch an operation called Project Retrograde that aims to maintain the balance by sending their own men back in time to discover where the other powerful weapons have come from.
The main character, Ross Murdock, ‘volunteers’ to join the project… not knowing what he is getting himself into. The result is a super fun romp through time and space, with some serious nail-biting moments. ^-^ If the rest of the series is like this book, I shall be well pleased.
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars (Really enjoyed it!)
So, this is my second Reading Journal, and I think I definitely want to keep doing these. ^-^ I’ve also realized that, for the most part, I haven’t been including any plot summaries. Should I add a synopsis section? Or would linking it to an appropriate bibliography type page would be good enough for such short reviews? I’d love any feedback.