Archive for the ‘Urban Fantasy’ Category
Looking for gift ideas this Christmas? How about giving a book? Here’s some gift recommendations based on books or series we read during 2011.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
About: Effortless novel from one of our favorites.
Best for: Fans of The Virgin Suicides or Middlesex; people who enjoy character studies; Fans of Jane Austen, and also of Victorian writers.
Also consider: Game of Secrets by Dawn Tripp or The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.
Short Story Collection
20 Under 40: Stories from the New Yorker
About: Sampling of the hottest short-story authors under 40 years old. Great way to find your favorite new literary author.
Great for: fans of short stories, literary fiction.
Also consider: St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell, Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.
Adult Dystopian, Sci-Fi, or Fantasy
Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
About: Game of Thrones is a layered high-fantasy novel with high stakes.
Great for: fans of high fantasy, people who like epic sagas.
Also consider: Greywalker by Cat Richardson
Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite.
Why: Five different female narrators tell the story of Nellie’s unfortunate marriage to Hobbs Pritchard.
Great for: fans of Southern gothic novels, literary ghost stories.
Also consider: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Soulless by Gail Carriger
About: Victorian steampunk with supernatural creatures. Mixes romance and humor with a mystery. Absolutely brillant fun read.
Best for: readers with a sense of humor.
Also consider: Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Young Adult Dystopian, Sci-Fi, or Fantasy
Feed by M. T. Anderson
About: Ecological and technology issues, sci-fi, and dystopian blend in this YA novel perfect for boys and girls. Also has one of the best first lines ever: “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”
Best for: fans of dystopian or sci-fi.
Also consider: Divergent by Veronica Roth, Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Daughter of Smoke and Bones by Laini Taylor, and Witchlanders by Lena Coakley.
Young Adult, Contemporary
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
About: Vera’s journey as grieving high school student with broken family has heart, and her journey rings true.
Best for: YA contemporary fiction.
Also consider: Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
About: excellent analysis and insight into the “girly-girl” culture invading US society. Go check out the pink toy aisle at your local Target if you don’t believe me.
Good for: parents of daughters, people who deal with children, anyone concerned with the way girls are taught to value themselves.
Also Consider: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
On Writing by Stephen King
About: Great advice and insight into King’s journey.
Best for: writers.
Also consider: Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
In September, I was on quite possibly the most miserable flight of my life. The one-week-shy of two years old child who sat on his mother’s lap next to me kicked me at least once every thirty seconds. (He also tried to steal my food and book.) Their dog escaped from his kennel partway through his flight and I ended up holding it on my lap for a couple of hours. The flight attendant spilt apple juice on my three times.
(Seriously—who only buys one seat when she’s traveling with both a two year old and dog? And who doesn’t bring food for a child on a six+-hour flight? Okay, rant over.)
Luckily I had something to escape to while flying—Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. The book begins as we meet Karou, an art student in Prague with an interesting home life. Karou was raised by a chimera, Brimstone. She doesn’t know where she came from or who her parents are. She runs errands for Brimstone and his companions, going into the human world in exchange for receiving beads that allow her to make wishes.
While on a mission, Karou comes across an angel. This meeting turns her entire world upside down. I won’t say anymore since I don’t want to spoil the plot. The very wonderful, engaging plot with interesting characters. The sort of novel that whisks you away into its own world and you’re sad to leave when you come to the final pages.
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Source: Gift from Friend
Read: August 2011
Private investigator Harper Blaine dies for two minutes, and after being resuscitated she becomes a greywalker. She can see into the grey, a sort of alternate plane for ghosts and other paranormal creatures that go bump in the night. When she takes on a case to find missing college student, her investigation takes her into the world of vampires.
Greywalker is a good choice for adult fans of paranormal fiction. The private investigator set-up works quite well, as it gives Harper skills to adapt to her changing world, while also giving her reasons to dig into other people’s problems. Plus the concept of being PI for the weird? Brilliant. At times the explanations of the grey get a little wordy as both Harper and the reader learn about the grey.
Author: Kat Richardson
Source: Public Library
Read: September 2011
For Portlanders, the word Wildwood will probably conjure up images of the popular restaurant in Northwest Portland. But for everyone else, it is the title of a three-book series written by Decemberists lead singer and songwriter, Colin Meloy and his wife (and illustrator) Carson Ellis.
The book has instant appeal, largely in part to the authors’ strong following in other media, so we thought we’d review the first four chapters (now available online) to see what this “middle-grade fantasy adventure novel” had in store.
Wildwood tells the story of Prue, a slightly unlucky big sister, who loses her little brother to a murder of crows when the birds pluck him off her Radio Flyer wagon and retreat into the Impassible Woods. Trying to avoid trouble, Prue is able to conceal the event from her parents just long enough to come up with a plan: to enter the Impassible Woods and do the impossible—come back out alive… and with her little brother.
The book has an element of instant likability and the sense of environment is very Portland. The first four chapters introduce the reader to Prue just enough so that we’re completely invested in her plight. I thought the cut off for the initial excerpt was well planned, ending with a cliff hanger that serves as the reader’s first glimpse into the fantastic (and possibly terrible) elements of the Impassible Woods. There were some areas that seemed predictable in terms of plot, but overwhelmingly enjoyable and fun to read.
To read the first four chapters yourself, click on the link below. The book is available August 30, 2011.
Wildwood Chapters 1-4 Excerpt <– Click here for the download!
The Southern Vampire series have been my guilty pleasure reads for a while. Dead Until Dark really drew me in with its mix of humor, mystery, and paranormal world. I was a little hesitant picking up Dead Reckoning; it’s the first Sookie Stackhouse novel for years I didn’t pre-order, although I did go ahead and purchase an ebook on the release date when I realized I’d be 350th in line at my local library.
I’m going to try not to be overly spoiler-ish but if you’re dying to read this book, you might want to stop reading this post.
Like the tenth book in the series, Dead in the Family, this novel seemed to readjust the lives of the characters to get them to a place so the story can move forward. Dead Reckoning took care of some troublesome plot points and laid a few issues to rest (e.g. the Sandra Pelt storyline, and the troublesome blood bond). It also introduced new ideas—is Sookie becoming more Fae, what exactly is Claude doing—but left these plot points hanging. The main plotlines—who firebombed the bar and what should Eric do about Victor—are resolved, but these plotlines felt like minor parts of the novel considering everything else going on as Sookie learns more about her family, etc.
Dead Reckoning doesn’t exactly stand on it’s own as a novel. Earlier in the series, you could pick up one book and it would generally make sense even if you hadn’t read the previous books. The earlier novels had their own plot arcs with resolution, and while you might not pick up on minor details or know all of the characters, the story was contained. It’s not like that in the later books. The story arcs aren’t as strong and are very reliant on the earlier books. This might be the consequence of being part of a very long series, and I’m not sure the author intended or planned for the series to last this long when she started. It’s a testament to the world she created that so many people want to keep reading new installments.
On a plus side, Sookie regained her humor in Dead Reckoning. Reading the books is like talking with a good friend, and Sookie comes across as a real person. On a side note, I’m glad that Sookie finally mentioned perhaps taking online classes, as she’s clearly smart enough to do well in college, and distance learning has come a long way. Sookie is also growing as a character, and she’s now well set up to make her own choices and decide her own future. Provided, of course, people stop trying to kill her.
I have high hopes for the final two books in the series after reading Dead Reckoning, and I didn’t feel as optimistic after Dead in the Family. As a fan I really hope it comes to a strong resolution. I also want to see Sookie end up in a stable, more-or-less happy place.
If you’re a fan, you’ll pick this book up because you’ll enjoy re-entering this amazing world Charlaine Harris created. If you haven’t read the series, start with Dead Until Dark, which is a fun, entertaining read.
Read by: Kelly
Title: Dead Reckoning
Author: Charlaine Harris
Source: Barnes & Noble Nook
Read: May 2011