Calendar Girl (kirilaw) wrote,
Calendar Girl

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Books, books, books

Time for the next part of my reading list for the year...

5) Hy Brasil (Margaret Elphinstone)
I picked this one up on a whim, at a discount books sale, largely because it was cheap and looked potentially interesting. And the writing was really quite lovely. Unfortunately, it didn't work with the story, and the plot itself didn't entirely hang together. The plot tried to be a thriller, with references to pirate gold and secret societies and mysterious pasts... when it's not trying to be a romance. But I wasn't thrilled by the adventure bits, and I was utterly unconvinced by the romance bits. I still don't understand what the two protagonists see in each other. I was also rather irritated by the book's conceit that the first-person chapters were being written by the heroine as notes for a book she's supposedly writing. This could have been an interesting way to handle things. Unfortunately, the author chose to use the conceit simply as an excuse to write in the first person -- the "notes" chapters were full of elaborate description and conversations quoted verbatim, and generally bore no resemblance to any real person's diary, let alone research notes. So, in summary, not a recommended book. Which is a shame, because there's some beautiful writing in there -- it just needed a better book to be in. **

6) Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War (Clive Barker)
I seem to be under a bit of an enchantment where this series is concerned -- I picked the first volume up at a discount book sale, because it was lovely and hardcover and illustrated and inexpensive. When I realized it was a series, I knew I would have to buy the rest of it in hardcover to complete the collection in a matching set, and resigned myself to it being expensive. But then I came across this volume discounted in a local book store. So even if I have to buy the next one full price, the average cost of the series has been very low indeed (but it'd be nice to find the next one discounted too...!). Anyway. This is a book as much for looking at as reading, full of lovely grotesque illustrations. The story is an alternate-world fantasy that is simultaneously completely impossible and utterly captivating. There are places where the writing is less than perfect, but the story carried me through, as did the fully realized and utterly implausible world. ****

7) Y: the Last Man: Safeword (Brian Vaughan et al)
I've been enjoying this series immensely. The premise is one of those classic absurd sf premises -- all males on earth have been wiped out by a mysterious plague, with the exception of Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand. Somehow, Vaughan et al manage to make the women-only world completely plausible -- I can actually believe it's what would happen if half of earth's population were suddenly wiped out. Unfortunately, this installment is, in my opinion, the weakest of the series so far. It's always been a picaresque, but the stay with agent 711 felt like a little too much of a diversion that didn't add as much to the main story as it was supposed to. I'm also not entirely keen on the direction the art's starting to go, though that's a totally personal thing. Don't get me wrong: this is still one of the best comics out there, especially if you're not all that in to superheroes. ***

8) Death: the Time of your Life (Neil Gaiman et al)
What? A Gaiman story I hadn't read? Shocking, I know. I'm going to keep this review short, because I'm not entirely sure what to say. It was good. I enjoyed it. ****

9) Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers (Bill Willingham et al)
Another one of the best comics out there these days, Fables is about a group of characters from fairy tales and literature hiding out in New York because their ancestral lands have been overwhelmed by a mysterious evil known only as the Adversary. This volume does not disappoint, at all. I don't want to say much about it, for fear of giving stuff away, because I think you should all be reading this series for yourselves. *****

1) Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke)
2) Colour: Travels through the Paintbox (Victoria Finlay)
3) the Well of Lost Plots (Jasper Fforde)
4) Daredevil: Guardian Devil (Kevin Smith et al)
Tags: books

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