pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (reading)
The following is my Goodreads review of [ profile] gillpolack's latest novel.

Life Through Cellophane Life Through Cellophane by Gillian Polack

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Romance, mystery, magic. And a slow build to a creepy finish.

I was especially disturbed by the protagonist's ex-boss, Penelope, aka The Bee Hive. I've read articles about workplace bullying on, but this story really brings that kind of situation and its emotional toll to life.

The romance was fun; not at all traditional, and very well handled.

I really enjoyed the way the mirror was handled. I can remember being both frightened and fascinated by mirrors when I was a child; I was certain that there was another universe on the other side and that if I watched closely enough I would eventually catch one of the people I could see there in an action that didn't exactly match those on our side, so when the mirror [in the novel] began to act up, I was instantly suspicious of what the results would be. While drawing on the classic fairytale concept of a magic mirror, as well as upon traditional horror approaches to mirrors, the mirror in Life Through Cellophane is entirely itself and doesn't feel cliched. I also loved the way the ants were at once a whimsical touch and an analogue for what might happen to humans in their interactions with the mirror.

If you're looking for an urban fantasy that doesn't just follow the same old standard tropes, I recommend you give this book a try.

View all my reviews >>

To the best of my knowledge, this book is not currently available from booksellers in the US, but it can be purchased from Eneit Press.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (reading fairy)
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow! Just . . . Wow.

I loved this book. Reading it was like reading a distillation of all I like in fantasy fiction.

View all my reviews.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (shipwreck)
The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved the ways in which the many stories in this unique novel were all strands in a woven tapestry. Or, perhaps it was a knitted tapestry, for there were stories, within stories, within stories, all linked. The blend of myth, fairytale, and legend, and the way the stories cross a world that feels at least as big as the one we live in, make this one of the richest novels I've read in a long time.

View all my reviews.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (reading)
I just finished reading Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French and wanted to share my GoodReads review with you.

Hitler's Daughter (Bccb Blue Ribbon Fiction Books (Awards)) Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an impressive book and one I can't recommend highly enough.

Anna tells stories her friends love to hear. Then, one day, she starts to tell a deeper, richer story that's both more compelling and more disturbing than the stories she's told before, about a girl, maybe an imaginary girl, and maybe not, who is Hitler's daughter. In response, Mark, the viewpoint character, begins to ask questions about inheritance, what it means to care for others, how to cope with loving someone who does wrong, and how to understand what's really right when everyone around you agrees that bad actions are right, as he tries to understand what he hears and how he feels about the story. The adults in his life want to be supportive, but are mystified by his questions and concerns. Often, they're busy or don't answer very satisfactorily, but when Mark asks his dad whether kids are evil if their parents are, his dad responds thoughtfully and without getting angry, even though he doesn't understand why Mark is so worried.

The more I think about this book, the better I think it is. The issues are very real and very much a part of what we all must deal with. All of us would do well to revisit questions about the issues and feelings, because this book isn't so much about Hitler, as about right and wrong, and how we develop our understanding about what they are.

View all my reviews.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (read or die)
Earthquake Weather (Tor Fantasy) Earthquake Weather by Tim Powers

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The first section of Earthquake Weather felt somewhat disorienting and fractured, which may have been a purposeful reflection of Janis/Cody/et al Plumtree's multiple personalities. As Plumtree and her new-met friend Cochran meet up with several companions (all familiar from the first two books of the Fault Lines series), the book begins to gain cohesion. In part, this is because the enlarged cast has a single primary goal which provides a focus to both the novel and the characters, even as each of the characters has his or her own personal goals and motivations. Amazingly, Power's manages to bring the multiple threads of plot and character development to a satisfactory conclusion.

View all my reviews.

By the way, although the final two books of Tim Powers' Fault Lines series have been combined in an omnibus edition that includes Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather, the series starts with Last Call.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (writing)
One of the topics we discussed during the most recent [ profile] bittercon was Authorized Cruelty over on [ profile] sartorias' journal.

In one of my comments I left out a mention to a writer whose works I've found compelling, because I didn't want to mention two different authors whose names and book titles I was blanking on. I still can't remember the author mentioned in my comment, but Jenny Rappaport, whose blog Lit Soup I read through her RSS feed [ profile] comfort_soup, happened to mention the other writer's name: Jacqueline Carey.

Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series goes far past what I thought was my threshold for violence, especially violence in the context of sexual activity, yet I couldn't read them fast enough once I'd started. These books examined the fine line between pleasure and pain, as well as giving a graphic depiction of a character for whom pain is pleasure. But don't make the mistake of thinking that these are simple books with a single focus. The world-building and characterizations are complex, and the voice is outstanding, with the end result that the story is compelling on multiple levels. (As an aside, you may be interested in the discussions going on right now on [ profile] sartorias' journal: Voice or worldbuilding? and Is voice more important than worldbuilding? over on [ profile] pjthompson's journal, which look at what makes books work for people.)

This got me to thinking about Laurell K. Hamilton's work. A friend introduced me to Hamilton's Anita Blake series several years ago and I started out enjoying the series. However, what I saw as the series progressed was an apparent pattern in which the violence and sex would become a bit more graphic as the series progressed, then ratchet back down for a book, only to creeps leap back up in the next. Eventually, I no longer felt that the sex and violence were a consequence of the plot and characterization, but that the plot and characterization existed only to provide an excuse for the sex and violence. At which point, I lost interest in the series. I've never been able to get into her Meredith Gentry series either.

So where's the line? When has an author gone too far? When are sex and violence appropriate to the story, and when are they gratuitous?

Edited to add: In a really, really big oops, I realized that the discussion I was thinking about was the one [ profile] sartorias linked to: Is voice more important than worldbuilding? over on [ profile] pjthompson's journal, so I added that info inline, as well as here. My apologies.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (read or die)
I read this book a long time ago, back in the late 1990's, I think. It came up in one of the [ profile] bittercon topics, so I thought I'd add it to my Goodreads page and share my thoughts here, as well.

The Merro Tree The Merro Tree by Katie Waitman

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an amazing book. It's been years since I read it, and I think my son took it with him when he moved out. A truly moving story of a soul-deep love that transcended boundaries, including those between species. A book my son once declared was the best he'd ever read. I recommend this highly.

View all my reviews.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (reading)
Expiration Date Expiration Date by Tim Powers

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Of the three books in the Fault Lines trilogy, I think Expiration Date is the strongest. It's hard hitting and not for those with weak stomachs, but his primary viewpoint characters are sympathetic and believable.

One of the things I've noticed about his works is the way they draw on real-world facts (generally about various famous people, but also scientific news items and other things we see as true) to strengthen the sense of reality about everything we read in his books. For example, much of what he says about Thomas Edison can be found in any biography, but in Powers' hands, these verifiable facts, such as Edison's work selling newspapers and candy on trains when he was twelve, lend credence to the fantastic things he says about Edison. Reading Powers' books, I often find myself contemplating looking some little tidbit of information up, but I'm unwilling to take the time away from the story and wind up trusting him, just because so much of what he's told me fits into what I believe to be true.

View all my reviews.

I'm still working on Expiration Date. I'm very glad that [ profile] lnhammer asked whether I planned on reading the whole trilogy. What's really weird is that I owned all three books, but had very foggy memories of them. Much of what I'd expected to find in Last Call was actually in Expiration Date, so I obviously associated the two, but I think I read them each so far apart from each other, that many of the connections between the three books were lost on me.

I'm still working on Earthquake Weather and will post a review of it, and possibly of the three books in the series as a whole, once I've finished it.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (reading)
This was another re-read for me. It had been many years since I read Last Call by Tim Powers, so all I really remembered going in was that it involved poker, superstitions, and California. (As it turns out, it's also set in Las Vegas, Nevada.) Of course, as this is a book by Tim Powers, it was far more complex than that. I love Powers' ability to weave seemingly diverse concepts into a whole, and the way his stories make sense, if one can only bend one's mind into a pretzel. I also love the many literary references, although I'm sure I caught only the top of the iceberg.

This book was crazy, wild, anxiety producing, and a whole lot of fun. Go read it.
pameladlloyd: Alya, an original character by Ian L. Powell (Default)
My brother, Don, recently suggested that I join Goodreads, where he was already a member. So, I've posted a few books and reviews there. I posted one today for Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor (although, actually, I'm reading the repackaged version in Cordelia's Honor). Below are links to Goodreads:

Shards of Honour (Vorkosigan) Shards of Honour by Lois McMaster Bujold

Click here to read my review (you have to join, but it's free), or view all my reviews.

I am in awe of the way Bujold can use dialog to define characters and the societies that shape them while at the same time addressing moral and ethical issues, without bogging the story down in long-drawn-out diversions from the story. Take for instance Cordelia's response to Aral Vorkosigan's complement that she has "the competence one would look for in a mother of warriors:"

Cordelia wondered if Vorkosigan was pulling her leg. He did seem to have a dry sense of humor. "Save me from that! To pour your life into sons for eighteen or twenty years, and then have the government take them away and waste them cleaning up after some failure of politics—no thanks."

The description of war as a "failure of politics" is delightfully apt, but it is given humanity by the deft way in which Bujold shows just how differently Cordelia and Aral think and feel about issues of war and the military.

Okay, I've tried to rewrite that last paragraph about a dozen times and am feeling entirely unable to state clearly just how wonderful and amazing Bujold's writing is. I'm going to go away now and read some more of the book. Or, maybe I'll kick Karl out of the kitchen and cook for once. ;>


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