Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Quotes

Posted by Simcha 5:43 PM, under | 4 comments

Whenever I get around to it I post here some of my favorite quotes, or a few particular lines or passages that I enjoyed in recent books that I've read (or from somewhere else in the book world).

Enjoy! And feel free to share some of your favorite quotes with me as well.

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The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahern

There are those whose minds are merely a bouquet of stalks that bud as they learn new information- a new bud for each fact- but yet they never open, never flourish. They are the people of capital letters and full stops but never of question marks and elipses.


A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

"May I sample one? " I heard awe in my voice. He twittered. I took that as consent. If he'd snatched the packet away, I'd have taken that as consent as well and snatched it back.


Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick

  • He let the sentence drift to the floor, stepped past it.


  • Dig down and you find the broken fragments of history; look up and you see the growing glory of the future.


I really enjoyed Patrick Rothufuss's response to a question about his beard (which apparently he gets asked about a lot) in a recent interview with Adventures in SciFi Publishing

...Dude, It's just a beard. I get a beard from not shaving everyday. And I understand it's something that not a lot of people have, and yes it is fully majestic, and yes, it proclaims my masculinity and virility to the world but...its sort of like- what would happen if in every interview somebody asked Neil Gaiman about his hair? That would be ...mental.. that's what it would be. And so, similarly- it's a beard!


(And if you are a fan of Patrick Rothfuss I highly recommend that you listen to the rest of this very enjoyable interview with him.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Clarity by Kim Harrington

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case--but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother--who has supernatural gifts of his own--becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?


When a book blogger that I follow commented that Clarity was the best YA Paranormal book that she has read this year, I was naturally curious to find out if this book is really that good, and so I got it. And then I proceeded to finish it off within the next few hours.

Kim Harrington throws readers right into the deep end of the story (no dipping your toes here) by opening up with a dramatic scene in which the protagonist, Clare, is being held at gunpoint by a murderer. The story then jumps back nine days, to the day when a dead body was found in the vacation town of Cape Cod.

Clarity Fern , or Clare, is considered a freak by her schoolmates for her ability to see visions just by touching an object. She's gotten used to the constant teasing and taunting and tries not to let her friendless status bother her too much. Clare's brother, Perry, doesn't seem to have such troubles, despite his own strange “gift” of being able to communicate with the dead, and he has no shortage of girls eager to spend time in his company. But despite her brother's womanizing ways Clare still loves him, and considers him her best friend. Together, along with their mind-reading mother, they provide a unique psychic experience for visiting tourists.

When a tourist winds up dead, Clare's ex-boyfriend (who is also the mayor's son) convinces the police to turn to Clare for assistance in identifying the murderer. Clare is less- then delighted to be working with her cheating ex-boyfriend though the thought of working with the attractive detective's son definitely holds some appeal.

But as Clare begins to work on the case she is horrified to discover that her own brother may be involved in the murder of the tourist. Clare is determined to prove her brother's innocence, despite the niggling doubts that have her questioning how well she really knows her own brother.

From the very beginning we are aware that the murderer is someone that Clare is familiar with, based on the conversation that takes place between the two of them on the first page. I was concerned that this might make the culprit's identity too obvious, making the mystery less interesting, but Harrington does a pretty good job at including enough suspicious characters that I was left guessing for most of the book.

While the mystery isn't particularly complex it was still enjoyable book to read, especially due to the interesting cast of characters. The Fern family is at the center of the story, and their psychic business results in a mixed response from the residents of their town. The bullying that Clare has endured for most of her life has resulted in her becoming something of a loner, spending her free time either working in the family business or with her big brother and his best friend, Nate. Clare's mother is a mind-reading hippie who has been raising her two kids on her own, ever since her husband disappeared, many years ago. Perry has gotten the short end of the psychic stick, his talent only working when there are ghosts nearby and when it does work, as Clare says, “he has to listen to a dead person talk.”

The two side characters that receive the most attention are Justin, Clare's ex-boyfriend whom she still had feelings for, and the hot new guy Gabriel, who is drawn to Clare despite his distrust of psychics. And of course this will lead to a love-triangle, which seems to be a requisite of almost all YA books, though this will probably be played out more in future books.

Clarity was like a mixture of Charlaine Harris's Dead Until Dark (girl who is ostracized for her psychic gifts uses them to solve local murders) and Ann Aguirre's Blue Diablo (woman with ability to see vision from objects that she touches helps to solve crimes) distilled for young adults. But since I enjoyed both Harris's and Aguirre's books, this wasn't a problem for me, though it did feel like the story I was reading wasn't wholly original.

Since I haven't read a lot of good YA Paranormal books I guess I could say that Clarity is one of the better ones, and it certainly left me wanting to read more about Clare and her future adventures, which Clarity hints at. Kim Harrington has definitely caught my attention and I look forward to reading more books by her.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

Posted by Simcha 6:06 PM, under , | 3 comments

Tamara Goodwin has always got everything she's ever wanted. Born into a family of wealth, she grew up in a mansion with its own private beach, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and all that a girl could ever wish for. She's always lived in the here and now, never giving a second thought to tomorrow. But then suddenly her dad is gone and life for Tamara and her mother changes forever.

Left with a mountain of debt, they have no choice but to sell everything they own and move to the country. Nestled next to Kilsaney Castle, their gatehouse is a world away from Tamara's childhood. With her mother shut away with grief, and her aunt busy tending to her, Tamara is lonely and bored and longs to return to Dublin.When a travelling library passes through Kilsaney Demesne, Tamara is intrigued. Her eyes rest on a mysterious large leather bound tome locked with a gold clasp and padlock. What she discovers within the pages takes her breath away and shakes her world to its core.


Hmm.. I'm not really sure what my feelings are about this book. I nearly gave up on it several times during the first half because the writing style irritated me. I found the introduction to be too melodramatic, especially coming from a teenage girl, and then I had trouble with the way narrator kept switching from the past to the present, and back again. But I did really like the voice of the protagonists, Tamara, which is smart, funny and honest, and therefore I stuck with the book longer than I might otherwise have. About half-way through, the mystery started coming together and I ended up getting completely sucked into the story, finishing the book in one sitting.

But although the story did eventually grab a hold of me and successfully kept me entertained, I'm feeling kind of meh about it, now that I think back to it. I had gotten caught up in the story because I wanted fo find out how all the mysterious events would be explained, but then the big reveal didn't turn out to be as interesting as I had hoped.

Most of all, though, I was disappointed with the way magical, future -telling book is handled. This is actually an issue that I have had with several other books that would be considered "magical realism" and had brought it up as well in my review of The Girl with the Glass Feet. These books incorporate some kind of magical element or object into an every day, non-magical story, as a unique gimmick to make the story more interesting, but it's often not done in a convincing way. So the magical object just kind of conveniently appears to help move the story forward but no explanations are provided for why it is there.

Tamara establishes that the book wants to help her get to the bottom of the strange events taking place, by offering her hints of events to come, but I kept wondering why the book would want to do that. I had expected that some connection would be revealed between the book and the unfolding events, offering a link that would explain the presence of the book at least a little, but none is provided. And I was especially put out with Tamara for what she does with the book in the end, because that is not what one is meant to do with a magical item that has mysteriously appeared to guide you. OK, I know I'm going on and on about this book issue, and I don't think anyone else that has read The Book of Tomorrow could care less about this, which is probably why they all enjoyed the book so much more than I did.

The Book of Tomorrow is an enjoyable enough read, with an engaging protagonist and an interesting storyline, but it ended up falling pretty short of my expectations. If you are looking for a good story about a magical book I would steer you instead towards Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager, a childhood favorite which has spoiled for me all other stories about magical books.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Scifi & Fantasy Releases: Week of April 11



After the Golden Age
Carrie Vaughn
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: April 12

Can an accountant defeat a supervillain? Celia West, only daughter of the heroic leaders of the superpowered Olympiad, has spent the past few years estranged from her parents and their high-powered lifestyle. She’s had enough of masks and heroics, and wants only to live her own quiet life out from under the shadow of West Plaza and her rich and famous parents.

Then she is called into her boss’ office and told that as the city’s top forensic accountant, Celia is the best chance the prosecution has to catch notorious supervillain the Destructor for tax fraud. In the course of the trial, Celia’s troubled past comes to light and family secrets are revealed as the rift between Celia and her parents grows deeper. Cut off from friends and family, Celia must come to terms with the fact that she might just be Commerce City’s only hope.

This all-new and moving story of love, family, and sacrifice is an homage to Golden Age comics that no fan will want to miss

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Akata Witch
Nnedi Okorafor
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: April 14

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent," with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?

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All the Lives He Led
Frederik Pohl
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: April 12



Two thousand years after Pompeii’s destruction, a thriller of upheaval—volcanic and political—as only SF Grandmaster Frederik Pohl can write it!

With a keen eye for the humanity in any situation, science fiction icon Frederik Pohl has crafted a compelling new novel of a not-too-distant future we can only hope is merely science fiction.

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. it gave so little warning that Pompeiians were caught unawares, and many bodies were preserved in volcanic ash. Two thousand years later, in 2079, Pompeii is a popular theme park eagerly anticipating Il Giubeleo, the Jubilee celebration of the great anniversary. But Vesuvius is still capable of erupting, and even more threatening are terrorists who want to use the occasion to draw attention to their cause by creating a huge disaster. As the fateful day draws near, people from all over the world—workers, tourists, terrorists—caught in the shadow of the volcano will grapple with upheaval both natural and political.

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Enclave (Razorland, Bk 1)
Ann Aguirre
Genre: Young Adult SF/Dystopia
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: April 12

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.

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Rose Red (Fables Vol. 15)
Bill Willingham
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: April 12

Rose Red, sister of Snow White, has finally hit rock bottom. Does she stay there, or is it time to start the long, tortuous climb back up? The Farm is in chaos, as many factions compete to fill the void of her missing leadership. And there’s a big magical fight brewing down in the town square, right under her window.


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The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Bk 1)
Kelly Armstrong
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: April 12

Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.
It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.
(less)

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Hybrids
Whitley Strieber
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: April 12

For years, people have feared that sexual material removed from victims of alien abductions might lead to the creation of something that modern science considers impossible: hybrids of the alien and the human.
They would think like aliens, but appear human, and be able to do something that full-blooded aliens can't--walk the earth freely.

In Hybrids, Whitley Strieber unleashes his unparalleled skills as a thriller writer and his unique knowledge of the abduction phenomenon to explore, what might happen if hybrids invaded the earth--not from the stars, but from exactly where the aliens told him they would emerge, when one of them said, "We will come from within you."

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Kingdom Besieged
Raymond E. Feist
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: April 12

Midkemia’s fifth and final Riftwar—the devastating Chaoswar—explodes in the opening volume of Raymond E. Feist’s spectacular new epic fantasy trilogy of magic, conflict, and world-shattering peril. A Kingdom Besieged is a breathtaking adventure that brings back Pug—first introduced in Feist’s classic debut novel, Magician, and now Midkemia’s most powerful sorcerer—who faces a major magical cataclysm that forces him to question everything he’s ever held as true and dear…including the loyalty of his beloved son Magnus.

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Life on Mars: Tales from the New Frontier
Jonathan Strahan
Genre: Science Fiction Anthology
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: April 14

Mars! The Red Planet! For generations, people have wondered what it would be like to travel to and live there. That curiosity has inspired some of the most durable science fiction, including Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles and the work of Isaac Asimov. Now the award-winning anthologist Jonathan Strahan has brought together thirteen original stories to explore the possibilities. After reading Life on Mars, readers will never look at the fourth planet from the sun the same way again.


Includes the following short stories:

1. “Attlee and the Long Walk” by Kage Baker
2. “The Old Man and the Martian Sea” by Alastair Reynolds
3. “Wahala” by Nnedi Okorafor
4. “On Chryse Plain” by Stephen Baxter
5. “First Principle” by Nancy Kress
6. “Martian Chronicles” by Cory Doctorow (novella)
7. “Goodnight Moons” by Ellen Klages
8. “The Taste of Promises” by Rachel Swirsky
9. “Digging” by Ian McDonald
10. “LARP on Mars” by Chris Roberson
11. “Martian Heart” John Barnes
12. “Discovering Life” by Kim Stanley Robinson

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My Unfair Godmother (My Fair Godmother #2)
Janette Rallison
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 12

Tansy Miller has always felt that her divorced father has never had enough time for her. But mistakenly getting caught on the wrong side of the law wasn't exactly how she wanted to get his attention. Enter Chrysanthemum "Chrissy" Everstar, Tansy's fairy in shining, er, high heels. Chrissy is only a fair godmother, of course, so Tansy's three wishes don't exactly go according to plan. And if bringing Robin Hood to the twenty-first century isn't bad enough for Tansy, being transported back to the Middle Ages to deal with Rumpelstiltskin certainly is. She'll need the help of her blended family, her wits, and especially the cute police chief 's son to stop the gold-spinning story from spinning wildly out of control. Janette Rallison pulls out all the stops in this fresh, fun-filled follow-up to the popular My Fair Godmother

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Shadow Chaser (Chronicles of Siala, Bk 2)
Alexey Pehov
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: April 12


Saddened because they have left one of their number in a grave in the wilderness, Harold and his companions continue their journey to the dreaded underground palace of Hrad Spein. There, knowing that armies of warriors and wizards before them have failed, they must fight legions of untold, mysterious powers before they can complete their quest for the magic horn that will save their beloved land from The Nameless One. But before they can even reach their goal, they must overcome all manner of obstacles, fight many battles…and evade the frightful enemies on their trail.
Shadow Chaser is a novel of intricate plots, surprising twists and finely drawn characters that will not leave you when you put the book down. Shadow Chaser is truly something different in the world of fantasy, something special; it is something truly Russian, a fantasy that is gripping and haunting, fascinating and imaginative.

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The Unremembered
Peter Orullian
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: April 12

The gods, makers of worlds, seek to create balance—between matter and energy; and between mortals who strive toward the transcendent, and the natural perils they must tame or overcome. But one of the gods fashions a world filled with hellish creatures far too powerful to allow balance; he is condemned to live for eternity with his most hateful creations in that world’s distant Bourne, restrained by a magical veil kept vital by the power of song.

Millennia pass, awareness of the hidden danger fades to legend, and both song and veil weaken. And the most remote cities are laid waste by fell, nightmarish troops escaped from the Bourne. Some people dismiss the attacks as mere rumor. Instead of standing against the real threat, they persecute those with the knowledge, magic and power to fight these abominations, denying the inevitability of war and annihilation. And the evil from the Bourne swells….

The troubles of the world seem far from the Hollows where Tahn Junell struggles to remember his lost childhood and to understand words he feels compelled to utter each time he draws his bow. Trouble arrives when two strangers—an enigmatic man wearing the sigil of the feared Order of Sheason and a beautiful woman of the legendary Far—come, to take Tahn, his sister and his two best friends on a dangerous, secret journey.

Tahn knows neither why nor where they will go. He knows only that terrible forces have been unleashed upon mankind and he has been called to stand up and face that which most daunts him—his own forgotten secrets and the darkness that would destroy him and his world.

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