storytimewithbuffy

Posts Tagged ‘2007’

Runemarks

In Book Reviews on August 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
Doubleday 2007

Doubleday 2007

Seven o’clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I must say that my thought process wasn’t at it’s peak when I saw this in the library. I think that it was something like “Ooh, cool cover. A story to do with runes. Mine.” Upon looking at it further when I got it home (thought process still not really engaged) I thought something like “Oh, there are wolves on the front. Is this a werewolf book?” Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t not read a book just because it has werewolves in it, but I don’t tend to gravitate towards them.

So anyway, then I had a flash of inspiration and actually read the back. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was a book based on Norse mythology!

Nutshell blurb: Maddy Smith was born with a runemark on her hand. She learns that this mark means that she has magical powers and she goes on a fantastic quest and discovers what this power really means.

I also didn’t realise that this book was a YA book when I picked it up. But don’t let that deter you, adult peeps, because it was super fun.

Ms. Harris (who also wrote Chocolat) has some mad world-building skillz and this made the story really engaging. Her writing is witty and, well, anything that makes me giggle can only be a good thing.

At the beginning of the book, there is a list of characters as you would have in a play and I knew that it was going to be fun when I saw the list of Norse gods who all had some reason to dislike Loki. The gods had great personalities and all of them genuinely had reasons to hate Loki.

He can't be all bad, can he? He's got a book!

He can’t be all bad, can he? He’s got a book!

I always enjoy learning about the different rules that authors give their worlds and the magic within them. In this book, the glam that a person can cast runs out after a period of time. Low stamina, I guess. It can be replaced by eating and sleeping. These details make a story much more interesting and it inspires me to pay attention to the details in my own writing.

This book has lots of adventure and lots of action. I loved it. I’m quite intrigued by her style of writing and would like to pick up more of her books.

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Nefertiti

In Book Reviews on August 10, 2014 at 6:00 am
Quercus 2007

Quercus 2007

Nutshell blurb: Nefertiti marries the pharaoh Amunhotep (who later changes his name to Akhenaten when he founds a new religion) and this is the story of their life together.

I love reading stories of Egyptian history. (Both fiction and non-fiction.) Reading these stories conjures up vibrant images of what people lived like back then. It’s both mysterious and romantic. I’ve always had a particular interest in Egyptian mythology and it was these stories that made me want to be an archaeologist when I was a kid. (Well, those and the Indiana Jones films, if I’m honest.) My dreams died a horrible death with the thought that by the time I was old enough to actually become an archaeologist, everything, especially all of the Egyptian stuff, would have been unearthed/discovered by then. So what was the point? Imagine my chagrin upon recently reading of the new things that have been found during in Egypt during this decade. *sigh* I was such a dumb kid…

Anyway, back to the book. This story is told from the point of view of Nefertiti’s sister, Mutnodjmet, as Nefertiti ascends the throne and insinuates herself as the chief wife of Akhenaten. Akhenaten founds a new religion that puts aside all of the other gods and demands the worship of Aten only. As you can imagine, this was upsetting to many people, as it would be if someone was messing with their religion. He upsets the apple cart further by ousting the priests and taking their money away from them. This is considered heresy and the result was that he was terrified of being assassinated.

The thing that I didn’t like about this book was the portrayal of Nefertiti. She is spoiled, self-centred, willful and manipulative. In fact, I kind of hated her. It made me wonder what she was really like. I love the bust of Nefertiti. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I want to believe only good things about her. It’s a bit simplistic to think that just because someone is beautiful in a sculpture, she must have been a beautiful person in life. I’m sure that Michelle Moran did her research and had reasons for portraying her this way and it worked in the story. But frankly, I wanted to slap Nefertiti.

Nefertiti pic

I really liked Mutnodjmet and could relate to her. She was portrayed as being very humble and loyal even though she was always shunted to the side in favour of her sister. The book also tells us of Tutankhamen’s beginning. The story is beautiful and well told. The writing is gorgeous. Even though I didn’t really like how Nefertiti was portrayed, I really loved this story and I’m looking forward to reading more of Michelle Moran’s work. This has also inspired me to read more works of non-fiction about Egyptian history.

 

 

 

Monster Island

In Book Reviews on December 1, 2013 at 5:38 pm
Snowbooks Ltd 2007

Snowbooks Ltd 2007

Nutshell blurb: The world has been taken over by zombies and the only places who have a hope of surviving are the 3rd world nations such as Somalia that are used to fighting. A group of girl soldiers is accompanied by a former UN inspector to find supplies necessary for their survival. They happen upon a zombie who is not like the others; he can still think.

This book has a very interesting premise. Apparently most of us first-world citizens are too soft to face the undead hordes as they overwhelm the earth and it is those who are used to constantly fighting for their survival every day who are best prepared for the zombie infestation. I was really excited when I read that because I expected the bulk of the action to take place in third-world countries such as Somalia, but instead most of the story happens in New York City. (Yes, I realise that the Statue of Liberty is on the cover. I still expected it to be a bit different.) So, I’m not sure what the relevance is of having only the third-world countries surviving unless it was a way of getting a bunch of Somalian girl warriors over to an infested Big Apple. It seemed a bit tenuous, but I was able to suspend my disbelief a bit.

Overall, this book was fun and the writing was pretty good. I felt that there was a lack of description when it came to the action, however. One minute they were holed up in a Virgin Megastore and the next minute they were running for their lives outside. There were quite a few times when all of a sudden something would happen, but I had no idea of how we got there. Sometimes I read really fast which means that I sometimes miss things, but this happened quite often. There was often no explanation as to how we got into certain situations.

The remainder of this post is going to be a bit spoilertastic, so if you don’t want to know what happens, please stop reading now. I’ll keep my spoilerage to a minimum, but there are things I have to tell you so that I can explain what I thought about them.

So, there’s this character called Gary. He was a doctor in NY when the infection hit. (There’s no explanation about how people became zombies, by the way. I can only assume that will happen in subsequent books as this is part of a series.) Anyway, Gary pretty much figured out that there was no way for him to escape the inevitable so he decided to take matters into his own hands. He thought that the reason that the zombies were mindless animals is because there is no oxygen to the brain between death and reanimation. He reasoned that it was only a matter of time before he became one of them so he hooked himself up to a ventilator and threw himself into a tub of cold water. This stopped his heart immediately and he eventually reanimated and still had his intellect. He also somehow formed an attachment to other zombies in that he could control them.

I thought that this was a really cool concept as this is the first book I’ve read that features a zombie with a fully functional brain. It was interesting to see how he acted when he was up against the living. He started out wanting to be a good guy but couldn’t control his tendencies. He teams up with a druid and some Egyptian mummies and goes up against the UN inspector and his team of child soldiers.

I felt as though the author could have explained things more carefully to us, but the action he did describe was gruesome and over the top. It’s definitely not for the squeamish.

Like I said, this book is fun even if there are some things that I question. If I see the next book lying around, I’ll probably give it a go but I probably won’t go out of my way to get it.

Heart-Shaped Box

In Book Reviews on September 18, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Heart-Shaped Box

Gollancz 2007

He put the box on the shelf, in the back of his closet, and decided to stop thinking about it.

Nutshell blurb: Jude is an aging rocker with a collection of morbid items. He bought a dead man’s suit online for a laugh only to find out that the consequences weren’t that funny.

Jeepers. This was a really good read. It was difficult to put it down when I needed to. This was one of those books that tempted me to stay on the train past my stop during my morning commute. (I was a good girl, though, and didn’t let it make me late for work. *sigh* It’s hard being responsible.)

I didn’t find the main character likeable AT ALL. However, I was intensely sympathetic to his plight and didn’t want bad things to happen to him or the people around him. That’s quite a delicate balance to achieve as a writer and I was seriously impressed by Mr. Hill’s mad writing skillz. There were a few times when I thought that I had figured things out only to have some new development that would throw me for a loop. Seriously, people. Skills.

There were a few things that didn’t make sense to me or weren’t explained thoroughly, such as the significance of the box the suit came in being heart-shaped. Perhaps I missed something, but I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t explained. I also didn’t understand how the ghost came to be as he was. I’ll leave it at that so that I don’t spoil it for you, but it wasn’t clear to me.

These things didn’t really matter in the scheme of the story, though. It was well written, fantastically creepy and full of suspense. I usually have two books on the go; one for home and one for my commute and this was my commute book. I was so transfixed that I read it at home as well in my travels and it was time well spent. I’m looking forward to reading more of his work in the future.

The Last Wish

In Book Reviews on June 13, 2013 at 9:42 pm

The Last Wish

Gollancz

English Translation 2007

This was a pretty good read. It contains a series of short adventures or quests on which our anti-hero embarks as he fights his way across the land.

Nutshell blurb: A witcher, Gerault is resting in a convent/nunnery/temple and flashes back to the adventures which brought him there.

I’m going to start with the negative things about this book. The first thing is that I didn’t realise he was flashing back to his adventures until I happened to read it in The Witcher wiki which I looked at to find which came first: The Witcher or The Last Wish. (Incidentally, it was The Last Wish.) I don’t feel that it was made clear in the writing, unless I’m just super unobservant and wasn’t paying attention. Through the entire book. I thought that he just really liked this temple that he was staying at and kept going back to it. I would almost count that as a cardinal sin. Mysterious = good. Vague = not so good.

The second thing that I didn’t like was that all of the stories were told as flashbacks. I don’t mind a flashback here and there, but I want peril. I want to find out at the end whether or not our hero/anti-hero survives. I don’t want to know that he’s relaxing with some hot chicks through the entire book while the action is going on in his memory. There’s no sense of immediacy. No threat of something really bad happening to him.

On to what I did like. I was pleasantly surprised that this book contained re-tellings of various fairy tales. I think that I might have told you in a previous post that I’m becoming more fascinated by re-tellings and although they weren’t the focal point of the stories, they made it interesting. I liked reading the author’s take on these fairy tales and how they could fit in with a dark and gritty story. They certainly weren’t inspired by Disney.

The characters were interesting and the action was action-y which is always a plus for me.

Overall, it was pretty standard fantasy fare but I found it fun to read.

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