[DWJ] Best and Worst of 2007

Allison Marles Gryski apm at alumni.uwaterloo.ca
Wed Jan 2 21:27:12 EST 2008


Oh yeah, I read Going Postal by Terry Pratchett too.  It was funny,
but I'm starting to find his books too same-y to interest me.  

Allison

On Wed, Jan 02, 2008 at 04:05:10PM -0500, Allison Marles Gryski wrote:
> I didn't keep a list, so I've forgotten a lot of what I read (or
> re-read), but here's some that come to mind (spoilers included).
> I've just yoinked my LibraryThing reviews for the ones I've already
> written about.  Maybe this year I will start a reading list.
> 
> First Time Reads:
> -----------------
> 
> Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (YA fantasy)
>    An entertaining, if occasionally awkward, fantasy about a young
>    woman who can see (usually invisible) fairies for all their beauty
>    and danger.  The fairies of this world are generally nasty and
>    Aislinn must hide her Sight. That becomes increasingly difficult when
>    she discovers that a king amongst them has taken a particular
>    interest in her and has begun appearing with a human glamour to
>    entice her. For the most part, the characters flowed well, but some
>    portions regarding sex showed too clearly the author's imposition on
>    the text and did not feel entirely natural. The plotting was a little
>    too predictably structured in that events did not generally cause the
>    characters to change their behaviour, nor actions by the characters
>    change the events that occurred. The book does seem to have some
>    strong ideas about the inevitability of your fate, but I think the
>    "plot on rails" is more a result of it being a debut novel. Overall,
>    Aislinn's world, so differently seen from the rest of the mortals
>    around her, is intriguing as is her dangerous dilemma.
> 
> Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause (YA fantasy)
>    Klause expertly draws a portrait of a teenage werewolf and her pack.
>    Many small details are used to create the sense that Vivian and her
>    extended family are not human, even when they have human appearance. The
>    sensuality and violence that are a natural part of Vivian's world can be
>    a bit shocking at times, but they do work well to create the
>    otherworldly atmosphere. I appreciated the fact that the werewolf was
>    not depicted as two independent halves, but rather, a single creature
>    with two forms. Too often, the werewolf is depicted as a human who is
>    the victim of a strange disease and has no control in wolf-form. This
>    book was a refreshing departure from the monster-movie style of
>    werewolf.  The story itself is a coming-of-age tale with a twist. The
>    outcome is pleasantly surprising, and Vivian is a compelling, though not
>    always likeable, character who learns to accept herself. Fans of the
>    vampire genre, including Klause's own "The Silver Kiss", will probably
>    enjoy Blood and Chocolate.
> 
> The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson (YA historical romance)
>    I know some people here really like this book, and that's why I read
>    it.  But it wasn't for me.  This book is embarrassingly bad. I was
>    hoping for something like a Georgette Heyer, but what I got was the
>    sort of romantic slush that Heyer's heroines are forbidden from
>    reading. While some of the characters are occasionally charming, the
>    events feel terribly contrived. The good characters are nauseatingly
>    perfect and the ludicrously evil characters have no redeeming or
>    realistic qualities.  (I mean, really, it's not bad enough for the
>    "other girl" to be tricking the hero into marrying her just for his
>    title, not to mention being nasty and self-absorbed and duplicitous?
>    No, just to make it really clear that she was the baddie, she had to
>    essentially be a Nazi too.  I laughed out loud at that point ... and
>    in the laughing AT not laughing WITH sort of way.)
> 
> Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg (non-fiction, philosophy)
>    This book retains a surprising amount of relevance given its age. Some
>    of the unwritten assumptions about a woman's life are obviously
>    dated, but the ideas of simplicity, accepting growth in
>    relationships, and living in the present moment are all still
>    extremely applicable to modern life.  I liked the conceit of using
>    sea shells to explain and remind one of the concepts discussed.
> 
> Apartment Therapy by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan (non-fiction, household)
>    The main bulk of this book is devoted to describing an 8 week "cure" for
>    your home, which addresses everything from repairs to regular cleaning
>    to cooking at home to what art you display. It is equally applicable to
>    houses, though it does focus on some issues inherent in smaller spaces.
>    In addition to giving you a structured set of tasks to improve your
>    living space and how you use it, this book helps you determine what
>    style you'd like to achieve and what types of problems your particular
>    personality is likely to encounter. Even if you find following through
>    with the whole "cure" a bit too intensive, this book has a lot of
>    helpful concepts and techniques. 
> 
> The Game by Diana Wynne Jones (YA fantasy)
>    DWJ again weaves well-known myths into the fabric of a familiar
>    world. She has done it before, most notably in "Eight Days of Luke"
>    and "Fire and Hemlock", but it's presented with a fresh perspective
>    here. The magical system is inventive and the characters are
>    well-drawn. A short, but excellent book.  I would have loved more.
> 
> The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg (picture book)
>    An imaginative book that makes the reader want to tell the stories
>    behind the pictures. It's a lovely concept and there are such a wide
>    range of ideas that everyone is sure to be captured by at least one.
>    Allsburg's slightly ethereal style is very well-suited to the mysterious
>    nature of the "story". There is a dream-like quality to both the story
>    fragments and the accompanying illustrations.   I highly recommend
>    this to everyone, regardless of age.
> 
> Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth (picture book)
>     An excellent child-friendly introduction to some Zen concepts
>     told by a very charmingly depicted Panda.
> 
> First Rider's Call by Kristen Britain (YA Fantasy)
>     This was a sequel to Green Rider.  The first book left room for a
>     sequel, but stood on its own.  I couldn't say that at all of this
>     one.  It's left things in a completely unresolved state (which
>     almost reminds me of Joyce Ballou Gregorian's Castledown).  I like
>     the world, and the style of magic, but this book felt a lot more
>     derivative than the first one.  Here's hoping for a weak middle
>     leading to a strong ending.
>     
> 
> Re-reads: 
> --------- 
> 
> Sunshine by Robin McKinley (fantasy)
>    I *love* this book.  I first heard about it here, so THANK YOU.  It's
>    so different from her other novels (of which I've been a fan for
>    years) that I was a little surprised.  I always have a mad urge to
>    bake after reading this book.  The world feels very well crafted,
>    with many dark corners left unexplored and unexplained. The titular
>    character is a baker for a coffee shop whose life is turned upside
>    down when she's captured by vampires. McKinley's vampires aren't the
>    devastatingly handsome and charming variety, but rather a
>    particularly nasty and horrifying sort of demon. The supporting
>    characters are interesting and varied, as you would expect in a
>    coffee shop. Sunshine is strong and independent, sometimes too much
>    for her own good, but always a character that you can respect. Almost
>    everyone is more than they initially seem and it's all slowly
>    revealed through Sunshine's eyes.  I desperately hope that there will
>    one day be a sequel.
> 
> Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (cyberpunk)
>    Snow Crash is a modern classic. This book has all the cyberpunk
>    ingredients: cyberspace, hackers, couriers, drugs, sex, viruses,
>    religion, globalization. It weaves quite a bit of myth and spirituality
>    into a technology-ridden society in an effective and interesting way. I
>    re-read this book every few years and Stephenson's distinctive writing
>    style still pulls me in on the first two pages.  The post-cyberpunk
>    world is inventive and detailed and perhaps better realised than the
>    characterizations. There is a "pulp" quality to the action-packed plot,
>    with some of the darker implications of the world not actually explored
>    in the text, but merely suggested to the reader.  But you can't deny
>    that this novel has brilliant style
> 
> Stardust by Neil Gaiman (fantasy)
>     I'm re-reading this one and enjoying it again.  He's done an
>     excellent job of capturing the feel of a grown-up fairy tale.  I was
>     surprised by how much I liked the movie too.
> 
> Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (fantasy)
>    Stories written by two authors are sometimes horribly disjoint. Good
>    Omens is a wonderful exception. It's dark and funny and strange and
>    surprising, and everything that you'd expect from these two writers.
>    It's an engrossing book that begs to be re-read. Often.
>    The end of the world is coming, but one angel and one devil aren't so
>    sure that's what they want anymore. So how do you stop the inevitable?
>    There's also a newly recruited witch hunter and a young woman with a
>    remarkable book of prophecies and the antichrist and the four horsemen
>    of the apocalypse, and they all have a role to play in the apocalypse.
>    But will they play their assigned roles or change the rules? 
> 
> On the DWJ front, I re-read Conrad's Fate and The Merlin Conspiracy, and
> I loved them both on the second time around.
> 
> Allison
> 
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-- 
Allison Marles Gryski
Freelance Writer, Editor, Web Designer, Artist
Website: http://outersphere.dynalias.net/~apm/
Photography: http://www.istockphoto.com/eoj



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