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The Realms of the Gods, Wings to the Kingdom, Luka and the Fire of Life, The Clockwork Three

Oh yes, I’m still reading. :D

Tamora Pierce, Realms of the Gods
The last in the series, which seems to have sated my need for the fantasy series of my youth for a while. I recall not liking this one as much as the earlier books when I first read it, and I couldn’t recall if that was because I had to wait before this one came out or if it was something about the book itself. On rereading, I think it was the wait, because the book itself flows fairly well from the earlier series and has an engaging and original plot. Except…there is this romance, between Daine and Numair, that comes out of nowhere. It doesn’t seem to be foreshadowed in the earlier books at all — in fact, in the first book we find out explicitly that he’s all but twice her age. Pierce seems to have fiddled with ages a little bit by this last one to make them a little closer, but it still bothers me a bit. That said, they make a sweet couple. I just wish the teacher/student romance didn’t appear out of nowhere, is all.

Cherie Priest, Wings to the Kingdom
More Eden Moore! I love these books. Eden is such an amazing character — she has some supernatural powers, she can talk to ghosts, and she’s still pretty much an ordinary twentysomething. She’s skeptical of her friends’ crazy stories, not because she doesn’t believe in ghosts (of course she does), but because ghosts don’t act like that. She hangs out with a variety of people, some of whom are kind of useless, all of whom are massively entertaining. Also, this book features a mental institution built on the site of a sacred Indian burial ground. Which apparently exists in real life. (“I couldn’t make this up,” the author’s notes say.) What more do you need?

Salman Rushdie, Luka and the Fire of Life
I got this as an ARC from the ALA conference this summer, and I’m pretty sure it’s not out yet, so that’s one more I managed to read before the release date. Yay! (I’ve already missed a couple of the September & October ones.) I liked this even more than I liked Haroun and the Sea of Stories, which is saying something, because I thought that book was fantastic. The video game framing of the quest is ingenious, and the delightfully random collection of allies Luka picks up on his way through are just as delightfully random as they were in Haroun.

Matthew Kirby, The Clockwork Three
And another ARC! I grabbed this because it looked a bit steampunk, and it is, but only a bit. It is for the most part set in an entirely historically-accurate early twentieth century New York (although I don’t think it really is New York but a metaphorical city very like it), but there is a clockwork man and some mysterious goings-on with Madame Pomeroy. The story revolves around three children in different sorts of abject poverty. Hannah’s father used to be a stonemason, but he had a stroke and now Hannah is the only breadwinner for the family, working as a maid in a fancy hotel. Guiseppe was sold to a padrone when his parents died in Italy, and now he’s a busker, turning in all his money to his master in the evenings and hoping it’s enough to earn him dinner. Frederick used to live in an orphanage (for “orphanage” read “workhouse”) but is now apprenticed to a clockmaker and working on his journeyman piece. They all want very different things — Hannah for her family to have money again, Guiseppe to go home to Italy, Frederick to make journeyman and set up his own shop — and their desires eventually lead them all together and in some rather unexpected directions. I liked this book very much, and I’ll look forward to future books by Matthew Kirby.

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Lavondyss, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Death Troopers, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, The Happiness Project

Robert Holdstock, Lavondyss
I liked this one much better than Mythago Wood, which is saying something, because I absorbed that book in the course of a couple of days. Lavondyss is the story of the little sister of one of the secondary characters in Mythago Wood, Harry, who was shot down over a mythago forest in France during the Second World War and came home with a horrible burn scar over half his face. In the first book, he accompanies the main character into the forest for reasons of his own; in this book, his little sister Talis (feminine of Taliesin) goes out to find him. Mythology happens. Very awesome.

Kate Summerisle, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher
Historical true crime, about a country house murder in Victorian England, but also about the history of detectives and detective stories. Real-life detectives were phenomenally popular for a while, but after this case — and due to other factors, I’m sure, but this case was huge — became much more looked-down upon, partly because it was one of those “only a member of the household could have done it” things and Detective Whicher was sure it was one of the daughters of the house. Gasp! Shock! Working-class people accusing upper-class daughters of murder! And all that.

Joe Schrieber, Death Troopers
I sat down to read this one night before I went to bed, thinking, It’s a Star Wars novel, how scary can it really be? AAAAAH. It’s not a Star Wars novel, it’s a horror novel that just happens to be set in the Star Wars universe. And it kicks ass. Although, I have to say, I was expecting zombie Stormtroopers — that’s practically in the title — but I was not expecting ZOMBIE WOOKIES. CREEPYASS ZOMBIE WOOKIES. NOT OKAY.

Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories
What Rushdie said was probably his only really happy ending ever, in a novel he wrote for his twelve-year-old son (at the time, the novel for the currently twelve-year-old son is coming out in November). I really, really liked it — a great older children’s novel, lots of wordplay and good mythological structure, and a good excuse for the kid to save the day even though there are plenty of adults involved.

Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project
I’ve been reading the blog for a while now, so I finally decided to try the book. I like the book better, I think; there’s more structure to the system, which makes it make more sense. Basically, Rubin sat down one day and said, I have a good life, why aren’t I happier? So she did a lot of research on the things that are supposed to make people happy, and made some guesses of her own, and set out a twelve-month intensive plan to do things to make herself happier. And some of it’s that really obnoxious advice that you never want to hear — act happy and you’ll be happy, for instance — but she’s good about pointing out that that’s not the easiest thing in the world and it’s work to be happy. I enjoyed it and found it inspirational, although I don’t think I’ll be having an epic Happiness Project any time soon.

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