Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

6567843We are back with the witches in an operatic drama at the mystery dinner theater.  While I'm very glad that Magrat is now gone, I'm not sure if I enjoy the replacement.  I'll need more time with Perdita X. Dream to know for sure--because first impressions are not too strong here.

A cheese baron has bought the oft suffering opera house on the cheap.  Probably because it has a phan--hmm, hmm--ghost and all the actors have superstitions and egos the size of Ankh-Morpork.  But what is our ego in the space of our destiny?  The wit is certainly on point in this novel even if the mystery is wide open.  

I also appreciate the extra scenes with Death, who happens to be my favorite discworld character (though Rincewind runs a tight race with him), especially when he is interacting with Granny Weatherwax.

Nanny Ogg does an exceptionally Ogg job explaining, “You needed at least three witches for a coven. Two witches was just an argument.” She can't just make Agnes join the coven so she tells Granny about her book, The Joy of Snacks, and the money.  How can you not want to read Terry Pratchett's puns?

As the book never gets around to saying, it's not over until the fat lady sings.  I hope you enjoy your night at the opera, but whatever you do, don't sit in Box number eight.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Unicorn Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle

I was incredibly disappointed in this collection.  When I pick up an anthology, I do not expect to love every story.  I am picking up a mixed bag of authors to expose myself to different works and see if there might be an author I have been missing.  

Unicorns are very popular creatures right now, and I know very little of their lore or tales throughout time.  I thought this anthology would be a great way to see where the humble unicorn has been.  Plus, there are some serious powerhouse authors gathered here and it opens with such a promising introduction.  

The first story starts to give me pause into how this anthology is going to turn out.  Story two kept the down slide continuing.  I couldn't even finish reading the third story.  Story four was dark, but I finished it.  The ending sentence made me truly wonder if there was really any hope for this anthology having anything good.  

Then I read story five, Ghost Town by Jack Haldeman II from 1992.  I loved it.  It was the gem I was looking for, a new author to check out.

Story six was some kind of modern folktale that got a little confusing and I just skimmed through it.  Never made it through story seven either.  Story eight was another dark and sad version of unicorns.  

Story nine, The Highest Justice by Garth Nix, brought me in touch with a prodigious fantasy author I had been wondering about.  His writing tone was one I think I could enjoy and will be interested in trying out some of his full novels.

Story ten through twelve went back to the dark and disturbing. 

I had lost all hope of this anthology being any good.  Then I reached Unicorn Triangle by Patricia McKillip and My Son Heydari and the Karkadann by Peter S. Beagle.  The two powerhouse authors.  

Even though McKillip's writing can be haunting and sad, she always has a brilliance and poignancy.  Good is always trying to shine through the darkness.  And Beagle's eastern look at the unicorn was just amazing.  I'm so glad that I decided to push through for those two.

Then I reached another unknown-to-me author, Jane Yolen, and her tale The Transfigured Hart.  A tender coming of age story that was excellently told and beautiful for its shortness.

For creatures that are supposed to be about purity, this anthology was disturbing.  I was very disappointed to have to skip complete stories and skim through others.  Most of the stories were just down right grotesque and had atrocious language and themes.  The four stories I did enjoy, I'm still wondering if the whole was worth the sum of its parts.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Rebel Born by Amy Bartol

I was trying to read another ARC and get the review published before its release date but failing miserably.  The book clearly had never seen an editor, and I just could not immerse into the story.  Then a reminder popped up that Rebel Born released this week, and I had not read it yet.  I immediately switched books and could not put down Rebel Born.  I read it in 16 hours.

Let me start by saying I loved this book.  It is one of the best books I have ever read.  Though it is sci-fi, the feel of fiction borders so close to the science.  The fiction part of Rebel Born felt well researched and incredibly plausible in the world today.  (While I love sci-fi like Star Trek, the reality of it is just never there for me.  It will always remain an alien story in the space of make believe.)  The implications of the neurochemistry and quantum mechanics kept this novel from escaping into the world of pure imagination.

The evolution of Roselle and the relationships around her are all incredibly well done compared to the first two novels, which teetered incredibly close over the romance border.  I was very pleased with the direction this novel took and did not feel let down with the resolutions made.

I was also incredibly pleased with the provocative treatment of the gods and our understanding of them.  Let's just throw some ancient history in with our provocative, futuristic science.  Yes, please!  I mean, are they really different anyway?  Think about it.

The entire novel was close to complete perfection until we got to the ending.  Ouch!  Up until the last chapter I had been incredibly reticent to ever have to take a break.  Who needs eating and sleeping?  We are getting the peppiest prep talk before the battle for our very existence when the book just ends.  Fists half-raised in the air.  And it ends with one of those look-into-the-future chapters.  

There is some allusion that another story lies in the ending somewhere, but it is not a guarantee.  It was kind of a slap in the face to end the book that way.  Still one of the best stories to get there, though.  And still highly deserves five stars.