May New Book #2

mirror sightSo I’ve been a little slack with this update. Kristen Britain’s newest book was released in Australia on the 15th of May which is also my birthday! BEST GIFT EVER, THANKS KB! This is the fifth installment in her Green Rider fantasy series which you may remember from this post. It’s a pretty fat book and I have a bunch of uni work due so it’ll take me some time to get through.

On a related birthday note: As with every year, Europe got me Eurovision for my birthday which I am totally okay with! I am a Eurovision tragic and have been slowly converting all my friends and family. This year I was backing Finland but I was happy Conchita won. To celebrate, please enjoy my all time favourite performance:

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Old Friends

photo(6) So this is what I did yesterday! Much as I love reading new books, sometimes it’s nice to spend a day with an old favourite. Anne McCaffery’s first Pern novel, Dragonflight, is one I keep coming back to when I need a quick pick me up. Of course, having just finished the third book in Naomi Novik’s awesome Napoleonic Wars + Dragons series, Black Powder War, I was probably pretty skewed towards something else with dragons!

Others on my list of well-loved and frequently re-read favourites are:

Green Rider by Kristen Britain

“I’m a messenger…Green Rider.” The young man’s body spasmed with pain, and blood dribbled over his lip and down his chin. “The satchel on the saddle…important message for…king. Life or death. If you love Sacor… Sacoridia and its king, take it. Take it to him.”

The dying messenger is found – with two black arrows in his back –  by Karigan G’ladheon, a merchant’s daughter, who has just been cast out of the renowned school at Selium for retailiating to the torments dolled out by an aristocrat. Unwillingly, she is caught up in the designs of a deadly mage who would release ancient evils into the world, and his human cat’s-paws whose aims are more immediate. Flying from the archer whose black arrows capture the souls of their victims, and other enemies, both human and monstrous, Karigan must come of age immediately if she is to survive and warn her king of his peril.

I first picked this up in high school and fell in love with Karigan, Condor, King Zachary and pretty much everyone else in the book. So much intrigue! So many plots! The only downside to this series is the rate that new books appear, though it has been getting more frequent! The fifth installment, Mirror Sight, is due for release next month so I’ll probably be rereading the whole lot beforehand in preparation.

Sabriel by Garth Nix

For many years Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the random power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who won’t stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorsen, is missing, and to find him Sabriel must cross back into that treacherous world – and face the power of her own extraordinary destiny.

To be fair, it’s not just Sabriel that I love. If I read this book I have to re-read the rest of the series as well. Who doesn’t love fully realised, three dimensional female protagonists on a mission to save the world? Plus there are zombies and magic.

In addition to already being totally awesome, there is a new Old Kingdom book coming! Clariel, a prequel to the series is going to be released in October this year along with these gorgeous new covers. Since my current set of novels are starting to disintergrate I will clearly have to acquire a new set!

Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce

‘Protector of the Small’ actually covers four books, First Test, Page, Squire and Lady Knight, all of which follow Keladry of Mindelan as she strives to follow in the footsteps of her hero Lady Alanna and become a knight of Tortall. Unlike Lady Alanna, she won’t have to attempt it in secrecy by disguising herself as a boy for eight years but there are still plenty of people who would see her fail.

I think this might be my favourite Tamora Pierce series. I think it’s the one I have read the most anyway, though it’s hard to keep track since I reread a lot of her books every year. These books are full of witty dialogue and you also get to spend more time with familar characters from Pierce’s other Tortall books. Other favourite series for me would be The Circle Opens quartet and Beka Cooper books.

Do you have facourite books or series you read again and again?

University Reading

So my academic year kicked back in full last Monday which is fun but doesn’t leave as much time as I would like for reading outside of the course materials. It’s also the last semester of my Children’s Literature sub-major which makes me a little bit sad. The best thing about uni by far has been these courses.

I’m finishing up with a whole course on fantasy, probably my favourite genre. Given that my lecturer’s tastes run similar to my own, I wasn’t expecting the reading list to be full with books I don’t own but, since I love having new books to read, it’s hardly a problem. In particular I was surprised at the lack of Tamora Pierce work on the list given the number of conversations we’ve had about how awesome she is. (SPOILERS: Tamora Pierce is totally awesome.)

Anyway, this is what my next 14 weeks are looking like at the moment:

The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy and The Red Pyramid – Rick Riordan (Couldn’t decide between these two so I got both.)
Blaze of Glory – Michael Pryor
Foundling – D.M. Cornish (A hometown author!)
The Giver – Lois Lowry
Dragonkeeper – Carole Wilkinson
His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman
Truckers – Terry Pratchett
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

I’m cheating a little as I’ve read almost half of the books on this list already but it’s always interesting to go back and read them from a new perspective. I reread The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton last year with much trepidation since I loathed it in high school but I really enjoyed it the second time around. I think it helped that University Mhairi has a lot more understanding of the 1960s than Year 9 Mhairi did.

Timekeepers – Catherine Webb

Now, fair warning. There are some minor spoilers for Waywalkers below so if you haven’t read it and are planning to then maybe give this post a miss.

The sequel to Webb’s first Sam Linnfer novel Waywalkers, Timekeepers resolves the duology. Sam finds himself cut off from his allies as the Pandora Spirits are used against him in a bid to release Cronus from his prison. New kids on the figuartive block, the Ashen’ia, offer Sam protection but the mysterious Master and Mistress who command them are manipulating Sam for their own ends. All the while Sam’s father, Time, demands he submit to his fate: save the universe and destroy himself in the process.

Since Sam can no longer rely on pretty much anyone we met in Waywalkers there are a lot of characters missing from Timekeepers. While we do get to meet a few new ones, such as the comically named Tinkerbell, the almost complete absence characters I was invested in frustrated me.

The actual plot wasn’t bad, with a lot of well written action and fight scenes which is appropriate since Sam spends basically the entire book on the run from one thing or another. There is an awful lot of build up for the final battle for the universe but, while there are some great action sequences and information reveals, the actual climax was almost boring and not very well described. There is also quite a lot unresolved in regards to some characters, Loki in particular.

Overall I enjoyed this series but I’m not sure if I would re-read it. If you’re a fan of magic and mythology but don’t like explicit gore in your reading then check out Waywalkers and Timekeepers.

3 stars.

Similar reads: Fated by Benedict Jacka, The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond.

Timekeepers was published in 2004 by Atom. ISBN: 1 904233 43 0.

Waywalkers – Catherine Webb

Waywalkers - Catherine WebbAn oldie but a goodie, Waywalkers was published in 2003 by Catherine Webb. It’s the first of two novels about Sam Linnfer (or The Devil as he is more commonly known). He’s out to discover who is responsible for the murder of his half-sister Freya. Sam soon learns that Freya’s death is part of a much larger plot to control Heaven, Hell and Earth and whoever is behind it is now trying to eliminate Sam as well.

Webb draws from several mythologies for this series in a kind of religious free-for-all. We get Jehovah, Lucifer, archangels, and the denizens of Hell. In addition to these Judeo-Christian staples, the Scandanavian gods of Valhalla, Egyptian Seth, Greek Cronus and Buddha also make appearances. Rather than being seperate groups they are all part of the same family, spawned from personified concepts like Time, Wisdom, Love and Magic. Also included are the fey folk of many cultures. It makes a colourful collection for worldbuilding and Webb does a good job of tying it all together.

The pacing is good and we learn more of Sam’s history as the book progresses which builds his character nicely. I also liked the way Webb built up Annette’s character over the book. However, at points Webb swaps perspectives to random minor characters and it could be quite jarring. There were a couple of occasions where I had to read back to clarify what was going on and who’s perspective I was reading.

The climax of the novel was a great break point to lead into the second novel. It resolved enough of the mystery around Freya’s death and the battle for Heaven, Earth and Hell to be a satisfying conclusion while still leaving me invested in Sam and what’s to come in the second novel, Timekeepers.

3.5 stars

Similar reads: Fated by Benedict Jacka, The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond.

Waywalkers was published in 2003 by Atom. ISBN: 190423321X.