Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Covenants by Lorna Freeman

Amazing Polish for a First Novel

If I had any Idea how good this was it would have been read as soon as I got my hands on it. I like to try novels from first time authors, and ROC is wise enough to publish them in paperback so you can afford to try books by their new authors. So when I saw this on the shelves I picked it up and put it onto my pile of first time writers to be read when I had finished off some books by favorite authors. And there it sat until last weekend.
Once I started I was drawn into the characters, the world the author has created and the story she has spun and pulled along until I had finished the book. All these parts were so polished that it is still hard to believe that ( as far as I know) this is a first novel. One of the real strengths is that the central character - Rabbit - is surrounded by such interesting/strong characters that it is more as if the story revolves around him than that he is the "hero". So if you are looking for a Fantasy read, do yourself a favor and pick up this book. And know that when the next Borderlands novel comes out ( we are promised the author is working on that), that it will be going straight to the top of my "To Read List".

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

I am not sure I liked this book but ….

.... I gave it 5 stars because it pulled me into the story from the first page to the last, the world constructed by McKinley is extremely interesting, I have no regrets about buying the novel in hardcover(instead of waiting for paperback),if there is ever a sequel I will be buying it asap and I would recommend this novel to friends.McKinley constructs a fascinating world inhabited by a eclectic mix of fantasy creatures of both pure blood and mixed blood. The world these creatures and the humans inhabit is our world - just a few degrees off. And the vampires who are the 'evil menace' of the story bear no resemblance to the nice vamps who have come to inhabit all to much of today’s vampire fiction.The very reluctant heroine of the story is Sunshine, who turns out to be very much her fathers daughter after years of her mother (and herself) trying to avoid or ignore that part of her heritage. After years of normal behaviour, the magic in her genes begins to break out. This leads her into a spot of vampire trouble from which she escapes only through her magic. The result is that she has entered into a conflict with a 'Master Vampire'; is allied with another vampire (in a world where all vampires are considered 'the enemy'-to be killed by the authorities); her own abilities are gaining strength and she has come to the attention of the authorities charged with dealing with the "Others".The story follows all these conflicting aspects as they pivot around (over, through) Sunshine. What could have been a terrible mess is held together and driven along the storyline by McKinley's excellent writing. As I said I am not sure I 'liked' this book, but I sure could not stop reading it. If you are looking for a great fantasy world construct, an interesting 'heroine' (say central character), not nice vampires, other interesting characters and a very different storyline - all held together by the authors ability to tell the tale ... Then this book is for you. Let me conclude by saying the ending was open enough to allow the author to visit with 'Sunshine' again and I would be glad to go back again myself.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Beauty by Robin Mckinley

I consider this the best adaptation of the "Beauty and the Beast" story I have ever had the pleasure to read (and re-read). Ms McKinley takes the time to set up and introduce us to Beauty and her family in such a way that we know them. The way that Beauty ends up at the Beasts' estate is skillfully told. And the unfolding of events after Beauty arrives leads naturally to the conclusion of the story. The book transports you to this world and spins a tale you cannot put down. It is a great read for both adults and young readers.

Monday, August 01, 2005

What is in a NAME?

Blood Music by Greg Bear
Human Error by Paul Preuss

By NAME I mean the reputation an author has earned. Occasionally you get two novels that come out at about the same time, by different authors, on the same basic underling idea or theme. This seems paticularily true in the arena of hard SF where events, discoveries or ideas are widely disseminated and can spark two authors to start off from the same point. It is always interesting when this happens because you get the opportunity to recognize the common starting point and to see just how different the novels that sprang from the seed grew into very different books. I have always remembered this pair of books in this regard because the came out (as fate would have it) at the same time. As a fan of both authors I purchased both books and quickly read them. I was then surprised that Greg Bears' novel got all the press. I cannot recall reading any reviews or comments about "Human Error". I am not trying to say that Blood Music was a bad book. I quite enjoyed the read. It is just that having read them both together I felt that the Preuss novel was the more interesting of the two. It was just that they were both (kind of) on the same theme and that Mr. Bear was the bigger "name" so it was his novel that got the reviews.

As I mentioned the point of the review is not about which is the better novel, it is to keep your eyes open so that I did not miss an interesting novel because it did not get any ink. (It was lucky from my point of view that I liked Mr. Preuss's writhing so that I picked up both novels.) This lesson also served me well when I was living in locations lacking a SF bookstore. Only so many novels by one publisher were ordered in a month to be put on the shelf of the local chain store. If to many "name" authors were out that month, some of the lesser name authors I enjoyed would not make it onto the bookshelves. I needed to be aware of what was being published and when in order to not miss a book I wanted to read. So be sure you do not let what is in a name cause you to miss a good read. so belatedly I have made sure to give "Human Error" by Paul Preuss the good written review I thought it deserved. And you might want to read both of the above books yourself to form your own opinion on their contents and "What is in a NAME?"