Welcome again to another Reading Journal! ^-^ Every month I get up to a bit of book rambling; with some basic information on 4 – 5 books I’ve read this year, as well as a quick-and-simple review for each one.
This month’s set includes one of my favorite reads from this year, and also a genre outside of the fantasy/sci-fi family… which is rare for me. ^-^
The Time Roads
Author: Beth Bernobich
Published/By: 2014 / Tor
Genre: Steampunk/Alternate History
Thoughts: A collection of four stories set in an alternate world where Ireland has grown to global prominence, rather than England. The stories begin with Eire’s young queen, Aine, struggling to find her footing. They continue with various explorations of the structure of time, mathematics, and strange occurrences called, “Time Fractures”. The final story is also from Aine’s perspective, which I really enjoyed. She is a wonderfully complicated and strong character.
The writing is excellent, and the plotting is so well done! ^-^ I particularly like the way the book is structured. It reminded me strongly of the way ‘Thomas the Rhymer’ is set up: Each story is separate, and yet intimately connected to the others. And, I mean, who could resist this tag line?
“The sun never sets on the Irish Empire”
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars (lovelovelove)
What I Didn’t See – And Other Stories
Author: Karen Joy Fowler
Published/By: 2012 / Small Beer Press
Genre: Literary, with splashes of other
Thoughts: It’s pretty rare that I leave my fantasy/sci-fi homeland for more ‘literary’ climes. Having had the pleasure of listening to Karen Joy Fowler give a talk during ‘Get Lit At the Beach’ in April, I was intrigued enough to make the trek. ^-^
The reviews on the cover call this collection of short stories ‘genre-bending’; but aside from a couple of outliers they seemed like normal lit-fic to me. I know I was disappointed that no sneaky fantastical elements seemed forthcoming, so I didn’t really enjoy the first couple of stories. I definitely intend to re-read them sometime and get a new impression, because the writing is excellent. ^-^
I did really enjoy the title story, “What I Didn’t See”. There were also several historically set tales that I iked. I do feel that “Private Grave 9” would have made more sense if I knew more about it though. So, I will have to do a little research and re-read.
As a side note: a lot of the stories seem to end rather abruptly. The only other collection of lit-fic shorts I’ve read is ‘The Therber Carnival’, but most of the stories there end similarly. Perhaps this is just a normal thing for literary fiction?
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars (definitely worth a little research 😉 )
The Iron Ring
Author: Lloyd Alexander
Published/By: 1997 / Puffin (Penguin Books)
Genre: Somewhat Mythoepic Fantasy
Thoughts: Lloyd Alexander has a talent for taking a mythological background and weaving it into an original tale of human complexity. In his well-known Prydain Chronicles, he pulls from the Welsh tradition; but with ‘The Iron Ring’, he takes a continental jump into the mythos of India.
Our story begins with young king Tamar, who’s rashness and pride soon get him into serious trouble. The resulting quest features a fun assortment of characters, including several talking animals. I think my favorite is the bear who is also a brahmana. ^-^
Tamar’s character growth moves along at a very realistic pace, and following his adventures and mishaps is enjoyable. A few places were pretty emotional as well. Also, Mirri is a great character! Strong, practical, and full of ideas from the moment you meet her in the story. Currently my favorite shepherdess. ^-^
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars (quite entertaining)
Tiger Burning Bright
Author: Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, & Marion Zimmer Bradley
Published/By: 1995 / Avon
Thoughts: This book reminded me of the other book these three great authors collaborated on: Black Trillium. It features features three, very different, royal women dealing with an invasion of their small kingdom. Aside from that basic plot however, the two books are completely their own stories. ^-^
I really enjoyed the three main characters, especially Shelyra. They were all very strong, clever, and assured in their own skillsets. I love characters like these, because they prove that there’s no excuse for making ‘strong women’ characters with a cookie cutter. 😉 I also love the way you get to see all of the perspectives, and track how different people’s plans interact… and mess with the plans of others!
And Leopold was awesome! I sort of saw his story-arc coming; but I didn’t care because he was an interesting and adorable character. ^-^
Overall Rating: 3.5/5 stars (pleasantly familiar and delightfully different)