[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.
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.
> 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.
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Allison Marles Gryski
Freelance Writer, Editor, Web Designer, Artist
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