Friday, December 31, 2010

Review: Fool Moon

Harry Dresden has been out of work for the last few months. Things are bad. Well...if you consider not knowing when the next pay check is coming in, worrying about feeding yourself and whether or not your friends are keeping on contact bad...then yeah...things are really bad for Harry Dresden. However, Murphy (Harry's friend) who worked in Special Investigations for the Chicago Police Department rings Harry after months of non-contact. A murder? Someone who's face has been eviscerated? Body disembowel? Paw marks? Harry knows what is going on...even a fool does.

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher is the 2nd book of the Dresden Files. As a lot of you may know, the Dresden Files is already a successful TV series, but books and TV are a lot different.

What I can tell you is that I loved this book. It was even better than his first book. Harry's quick witted humour makes you laugh often and his heroism is tempered with believable fight scenes (if you accept that fact that magic does).

Butcher skill in writing is his ability to get you to love his main character, his cliffhanger chapters which cause you to read on and on, and his ability to adapt and denounce what you though you knew of about mythology.

We all know what werewolves are. We've seen lots of films and read things about them, but Butcher takes what you know, smashes them and then reconstructs them for you.

If you haven't read this series before, then do so. I was told that his series picks up after book 3...that information is picks up now!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review: Swords at Culver

Two boys, Tim and Merthyn study at Culver Academy. Avid lovers of fantasy, they were very eager to visit the sword display at the Academy's library, among the swords were the famed swords Excalibur and the Sword of El Cid. Unbeknown to the boys, an ancient evil had arrived around the same time they happened to be viewing the swords. What would the two boys do? What else could two lovers of fantasy do? They break the cases containing the swords and fight their way out!

Swords at Culver is the first of a series of books written by Richard Gwyn Davies. It is a fantasy novel set in modern day times. A lot of real references are used to help the reader relate to the book. The story has 4 main characters, Tim and Merthyn (the boys) who stumble upon the evil, and Mr. Meek and Mr. Davies, two teachers at the Academy, whom together help the boys in dire straits.

At the first mention of Excalibur I couldn't help myself but groan, but as I read on, the focus was more on Native American Indian lore, which intrigued me. Yet that one thing that interested me, wasn't explained in detail, everything seemed rushed as if the Davies thought it would bore the reader. With the main characters being teenage boys and the length of the book being short (225 pages), perhaps Davies was targeting YA readers, and this is how I treated the book when I read it.

What I have learnt from reading many YA books is that a successful YA book contains young characters, they have special powers, it is fast paced and readers can relate to the main characters. I think Davies has the first three done, but the last one I am not so certain of. Yes, readers can relate to the books, as it is set in modern times but relating to the boys or the teachers? I'm not too sure of.

Davies has a sequel to this book called Buddha at Culver, which I will read and review at a later time as I am hoping for more ancient lore.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Review: Bookmarks

I thought I would do something a little different than usual. This item is pretty much essential to all readers of books but is never really talked about. I don't go into a lot of detail but try to enlighten you guys and put a little bit of humour into it as well.

bookmark is a thin marker, used to keep one's place in a book when the book is put down, and allows the reader to return to it with ease.

As I was growing up, a bookmark was something set in stone for me. It was a piece of paper or card and it was laminated. Now it is a different story. I was inspired to write this article after receiving what is probably the best bookmark in the world.

I want to breakdown the different types of common bookmarks people use these days.

I was going to say this is perhaps one of the oldest forms of bookmarks, but the more I thought about it the more I think I am wrong. It is perhaps one of the most recent forms of bookmarks, and the worst. Why is it the most recent? Well because paper and books were scarce a few hundred years ago and it would have been sacrilege to have bent pages in the book (I still feel this way about dog ears).

Pros: You don't need a real book mark.
Cons: I regard you as a lower life form than an amoeba.

Probably the oldest form of bookmark. A bound bookmark is usually a piece of thin fabric that is attached to the book itself. Prevalent in older books or books that are leather bound. Now it is usually found in bibles.

Pros: Right there when you need it.
Non-transferable.....unless you really want to

First used by the filthy rich and now by the most common of people. Quite a prevalent form of bookmark these days. Used because it is handy.

Pros: Usually readily available. You can also use the $1, $5, $20, $50 or $100 bill.
Cons: Don't use them for library books or borrowed books. You might find yourself poorer.

Laminated bookmarks are probably the most prevalent kind of bookmarks these days. They can be bought straight up from a store or they can be made. An excellent activity to do with your kids.

Pros: Looks good, can be personalised, lasts a long time.
Cons: Feeling guilty when you lose one that someone made for you, but then feel utterly relieved when you find it a day later on the street!

Probably the best bookmark in the world. Seriously. Just look at it! I received this from a friend for Christmas 09' and I must say, it has been my favourite. It is a little bit smaller than a small sized paperback and only a few millimeters thick.

Look at me rambling.

The fabric bookmark is becoming more popular these days. They come in different sizes and usually are in the shape of a normal bookmark. Felt is a common fabric to use and can be also layered with other different coloured felt to give it a cool effect.

Pros: Way more stylish than laminated ones. Also has all their pros.
Cons: Harder to make than laminated ones, can get dirty.

I hope that I've made you think a little more about bookmarks now. Yes I know there are other forms of bookmarks, but these are the ones that are worth writing about.

Just another reminder to look at my sexy sexy bookmark.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: The Briar King

Two millennia ago, the world was enslaved by Demons. Humans were enslaved until the Born Queen Virgenya Dare and her army swept across the land to free all of humankind...

In the present, Crotheny, the greatest nation of the world is under threat by countries in the north. Hansa and Saltmark are stirring trouble and war is just around the corner. In the south, tales of unearthly creatures roam the King's Forest. People have died and fled their homes. The King's Holter, Aspar White is to find the source of the trouble. Is it because the Briar King...the harbinger of death has awoken?

The Dares are conflicted on both sides of the borders but also from within. King William the Second is a good man but by no means a good King. He has a wife who knows about his many mistress'. A daughter who isn't happy with her marriage, another who is about to get married and the youngest who is rebellious. William also has a son, Charles, but he is simple, 'touched by the Saints' and because so, William decides to name his daughters heirs to the throne. The Church does not not like this at all, not one bit.

The Briar King by Greg Keyes is nothing short of an amazing read. It is the first of four in the series called 'The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone'. There was so much familiarity when I was reading this book. Almost all the characters felt like someone from Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy). Keyes has a wonderful way of writing characters who keep growing and developing. The chapters were separated by the different characters and the locations they were in, which reminded me of A Game of Thrones. It is similar on another level in that each chapter teases you with a little bit of information and then switches locations. Some have said that this got annoying in A Game of Thrones, but because the world in which Keyes writes is smaller, we don't have a lot of different story arcs at one time.
While The Briar King is similar to those great books, when you have included the plot, this book is distinctly Keyes. Each chapter is a page turner and each one eggs you along like a kitten chasing after a rolling ball.
The plot is very deceptive. It starts off like a very typical fantasy storyline and as you read and the chapters begin to crumble, the story becomes more intricate and like a vortex sucks you in.

The first book of the year has been an absolute joy. I have finished The Charnel Prince, the second of the series and was equally captivating. I look forward to the rest of the series.

"The Briar King has a deep plot and full of characters that keep giving." - Sleeping With Books