Tag Archives: fantasy

Heartless, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

31 Aug
heartless cover

Isn't this cover beautiful?

“Then the heat came.  It began the same as it had the night before, and with it came sudden remembrance of the dream she had forgotten.  The two faces–one black, one white, one ice, and one fire…Her mother’s ring on her finger tightened and her hands throbbed with burning.”

I just read a book that I couldn’t wait to share with everyone.  In fact, I was surprised that this book wasn’t swept up by the media in the way of Twilight.  Heartless, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, started slowly.  We are introduced to Princess Una, her brother Prince Felix, and the kingdom of Parumvir.  It’s fairy tale kingdom, complete with an enchanted forest, mysterious pet, and magical bazaar.  The story drifts slowly along until about the halfway point, when things just take off (on dragon wings?). 

After conducting some research, I learned that this is classified as Christian Fiction, and the author is often criticized for so many allegories (hidden meaning or moral).  Whelp, the allegory was lost on me!  I read it as a fairy tale, occasionally simplistic and a bit over the top.  Many reviewers called it Christian Fiction and mentioned allegory without ever explaining what that meant.  When I really love a book, I don’t really like reading many other reviews, because I want to feel solitary in that book’s world, so I’ve decided to stick with my conclusion that the overall themes were about love, devotion and the fact that no one is perfect.  This is hardly a hidden meaning. 

Often, all readers are looking for is a good story.  This one is a great story.  I can see why it drew some criticism, but I wish more people were aware of this “sleeper novel” and enjoyed it the way that I did, without consciousness of hidden morals.  I really did love this book (five stars!) and look forward to more Tales of Goldstone Wood.

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Summer Catch Up

23 Aug

I am very disappointed in myself for neglecting my blog.  I love writing this blog, love reading, and love sharing what I’ve read with others.  Still, life got the best of me and I just…stopped.

To kick-start my return as a blook bogger, I’ve decided to post a brief paragraph about each book I’ve read since I vanished.

Enchantment, by Orson Scott Card
E
nchantment, by Orson Scott Card

This is a very intelligent book!  I love novels that take fairy tales and adapt them (I’m very slowly writing my own version), and that is what this book does.  However, this pulls from Russian and Jewish folklore as well as the original versions of fairy tales.  I had to stop reading a few times and look up the stories that Card seems to expect me to already know.  Thank goodness for Wikipedia!  Because I wasn’t smart enough, this was a slow read.  There’s magic, romance, philosophy, history, and action.  When I got to the romance and action, I zoomed through it.  I’m very glad I read this book because it gave legitimacy to the genres that I enjoy.  It’s smart and fun, and it made me think!

Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King

Book Cover

Since it’s King’s newest book, I read this collection of novellas.  I’ve read all of his novels, but only randomly choose to read the short stories and novels.  I don’t really know how to describe my impression of the stories in Full Dark, No Stars.  If I said that it’s darker than his usual stuff, someone would undoubtedly point out that this is the guy who once wrote about a guy committing suicide by sticking his hand down a garbage disposal (Firestarter, I think?  I can’t get that image out of my mind!).  This is more realistically dark.  Rape, murder and relationships gone wrong are common themes.  There are still supernatural aspects, and I enjoyed the whole book.  To me, the title is very fitting and it reveals another facet of Stephen King’s world.

book coverMarry the Man Today, by Linda Needham

Of course there are romantic paperbacks on this list!  I just finished this book, and as historical romance goes, I’m usually not much of a critic.  So imagine my surprise when I realized that this book just didn’t do it for me.  The characters fell flat, the drama was always lacking something, and there didn’t seem to be any passion between heroine Elizabeth and Earl Blackstone.  There were cutesy moments but nothing much more than that.  I’ll be seeking out some new romance novels soon to make up for the disappointment!

Book Blogger Hop

21 May

Book Blogger Hop

“If you were given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book would it be from and what would that place be?”

Well, I have to give a shout-out to Stars Hallow, Connecticut, of Gilmore Girls fame.  This fictional town is 100% the place I would like to be.  Small, friendly town where everyone knows everyone else and you can even laugh at the people who take themselves too seriously.  I’d move there in a heartbeat.  Admittedly, that’s cheating.

As a book blogger, there are many places I’ve envisioned myself living.  The two that I would love to visit for a day are The Fading Lands, from CL Wilson’s Tairen Soul Series, or Melissa Mayhue’s world from Daughters of the Glen, where Mortals, Faeries, and Highlanders collide.  Basically, I feel like our world could use a little more magic–and soul mates!

The Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier

7 Mar

Yes, I am actually posting.  No, I didn’t exactly read a book.  This is the review of an audiobook I listened to this weekend, narrated by Richard Poe.

For some reason, I haven’t been in the mood to sit down and read a book.  I’ve been focused on a lot of transitions in my life, and I’ve also been writing.   This is embarrassing for me to admit, but since I don’t want to give up on the Blook Bog, I have to be honest about it.  I think this is the longest time I’ve gone without reading a book since grad school!

Anyway, I’m really glad I didn’t try to read this book.  The Brief History of the Dead has been a book that I’ve wanted to read for years now; I’m glad I can finally cross it off my list.  It took a while to get into this novel, but it did have its high points.

Imagine a book that combines The Road with The Lovely Bones.  That provides some of the framework for Brockmeier’s concept.  There are two worlds with two stories that slowly come together.  As the people of the world pass on, they find themselves in The City, a world that closely resembles the one they left behind.  Married couples are re-united and best friends can meet up in a bar to have a drink in the afterlife.  Occasionally, residents vanish and no one knows what happens to them.  They have a theory that The City holds the dead as long as they are remembered by people living on Earth.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Laura Byrd, researcher for the Coca-Cola Corporation, struggles for survival in Antarctica.  She and her two teammates lost contact with the base, and when the other two set out to find help, they never return.  Through amazing endurance, Laura journeys across the frozen land, and begins to suspect that she’s the only person left on Earth.

“How many people was any one human being likely to remember? A thousand? Maybe if you were cursed with a particularly slipshod memory. So then—ten thousand?…

He was thinking about himself, his own life, and by extension, he was thinking about Laura. She was the common element, after all, the link or what have you. After all the discussion he had heard in the city, that much was obvious.”

This book poses a lot of topics that would make a good discussion.  The author’s look at life and death is very creative.  As a story, however, it fell flat for me.  There isn’t much dialogue, but lots of long descriptions.  There is a lot of symbolism, and I won’t pretend I understood it all.  For me, the symbolism got in the way of getting to know characters and staying engaged in the story.
I found Laura’s struggle to stay alive to be the most engrossing part of the book.  She faces freezing weather, deep caverns, and plague.  I can’t imagine the loneliness she experienced!
Overall, I’m going to go with three stars in my evaluation of this book.  If you’ve read it, I’d love to have a discussion about it; there’s a lot to talk about.

The Tairen Soul Quintet

21 Nov

I’ve been holding off on this post because I’m smack in the middle of book four in a series of five.  Still, with the release of the final, fifth book occurring this month, I had to get this out there.

For at least a year, I had a cute paperback book on my bookshelf featuring a redheaded young woman laying in the grass, surrounded by magic.  I don’t know why I didn’t look too closely, but I’m very glad that it just sat on my shelf.  Eventually, I found another book at my favorite used book sale and recognized the same style cover and the author.  Still, both books sat, waiting.

How fortuitous that I decided to read the first in the series, Lord of the Fading Lands, so close to the release date of the final book.  When I started, I had no idea that I was about to plunge into an epic.  I’m still in the middle of the fourth book, but I had to share this with you as soon as possible.

The Tairen Soul is a very special version of the Fey, with the ability to change into a large, flying cat-like creature called the Tairen.  Rainier, the last Tairen Soul in the Fading Lands, serves as king over both the Fey and the Tairen.  Rain hasn’t left the Fading Lands in thousands of years, but the mysterious deaths of his kind have caused him to leave in search of a solution.

That solution just happens to be Ellysetta, a simple, mortal girl hiding a lot of secrets.  From the moment she meets Rain, Ellie is forced to face the magic and talents that she has spent her whole life meticulously hiding.  She’s afraid to accept her powers, but with Rain, her truemate, by her side, Ellie will begin a journey to accept her destiny.

The love between Ellie and Rain is wrought with conflict.  Ellie’s soul calls Rain down from the sky, and he immediately professes his love for her as her one true soulmate.  I thought that this would take away from the drama in their relationship, but that is not at all the case.  The couple must still find their way together, in the midst of war and danger.  Ellie is especially intriguing.  Initially, her story read like a Cinderella tale where a simple young girl suddenly becomes a queen.  However, her character is always evolving and growing in depth and strength.  Ellie is no delicate princess to be swept off her feet.  She’s powerful beyond anyone’s understanding, and deeply empathetic.

Written originally as a complete novel, there are really no good endings and beginnings among all the books.  I highly suggest collecting them all, and then reading all the way through.  I hesitate a little to rate The Tairen Soul Series prematurely, especially since I find that it’s the endings that always disappoint me.  Still, I already know that the journey is well worth the read.  I rate this five out of five stars!