Llew's Reviews

Archive for the 'Foreign Fantasies' Category

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull

Friday, July 27th, 2007 by Miss Laura

fablehaven2.jpg I can’t believe I unwittingly got myself involved in another YA fantasy series – foiled again!

Also, it took me until the second book to realize the author must be LDS. Double-suckered – my book-spidey senses are failing me!

Un Lun Dun by Chine Mieville

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007 by Miss Laura

unlundun.jpg An incredibly crafted children’s story set in London, or rather, Un-London. With various wordplay and inventions it’s an incredibly clever tale. Almost too much so. If I were into clever, I would have never gone to school in Utah (bum-dum-dum).

I wonder if all of Mieville’s work is like this. I had wanted to try more of his novels which is normally geared toward adults, but this is my first delve into his work. I like his style overall but if it’s all so overly-stylized in turning words and ideas around I could see it getting tiresome in a Piers Anthony kind of way rather quickly. And if it’s one thing a fantasy author should strive for it’s being the Anti-Anthony.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Sunday, July 1st, 2007 by Miss Laura

fablehaven.jpg As a bookseller, it gets tiring to hear every other book lauded as The Next Harry Potter. Whenever I read the fantasy section of the YA catalogs, my eyes are permanently set on “roll.”

And this one is not the next Harry Potter – but it sure is good. I still haven’t gotten my grubby hands on the second installment. However, the first one works well by itself and is a good recommended read – especially on the middle school level. Also, there’s no way I would drink unpasteurized milk from an overgrown cow – no matter what it allowed me to see.

Blood And Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Sunday, July 1st, 2007 by Miss Laura

bloodandchocolate.jpg At least it wasn’t a vampire novel! Although, I don’t know in the fantasy hierarchy where wolverines fall. Perhaps I was taking a step down after all.

A customer bought this book from me two years ago and then tried to return it. She explained to me it was a reading list book (huh?) from Mr. X. I know very well the AP English teacher never assigned this semi-tawdry tale, but I was so very amused and I generally like this customer. Thus, I accepted the return. Then, I read it for myself. It was fun – like the wolverine version of Robin McKinley’s “Sunshine” but not as great.

His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

Friday, June 22nd, 2007 by Miss Laura


I finished this series, and I STILL don’t have my own armored bear. CHEATED.

A good side to being behind the times and getting to this series so late is that I could read them all at one time. If I had to have waited for months or years in anticpation for the trifle that book #2 was I would have cut someone in front of their own daemon. “The Subtle Knife” was just a slapped together stepping stone in between two really good books. I was really happy with how the story ended, even though (or maybe because) it wasn’t your usually Fairy Tale/Happily Ever After conclusion.

Before I started, I had heard this series detailed as the “Anti Narnia” which is quite the apt description. At first, I thought I would get annoyed with all of the incredibly obvious parallels but it didn’t turn out to be TOO preachy. It was more than I like, but not insufferable. I still don’t quite understand how it turned into such a bestselling series. It’s OK but I can’t see myself highly recommending it to anyone over something else.

Book #39 Beauty And Sadness by Yasunari Kawabata

Saturday, July 8th, 2006 by Miss Laura

First, I would like to say that if my husband made me type up the manuscript of his novel about how he had an affair with a much younger woman, I would freaking bludgeon him with the typewriter.

Second, Mishima certainly was much better at the HOT Japanese lesbian action. The lesbian happenings in this novel were kind of creepy. And by kind of, I mean if I lived in Japan I’d never leave my house.

Third, I was detailing the plot to Ben and I realized that this story is one big Japanese soap opera. Seriously, it’s crazy!

Book #31 The White Guard by Mikhail Bulgakov

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006 by Miss Laura

This is the second title which I’ve taken from the Lit List in the past month, and it was just the luck of the draw as to which arrived to me first that I read it before Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita”.

First off, I have absolutely no knowledge about the background of this story which is the Russian Civil War between the White and Red. Evidently, it was a brief time immediately following WWI and before the Bolshevik Revolution. The main characters are a middle class doctor’s family in Kiev who join the White Guard to help defend their home.

It was good, although I find the book description on the used marketplace where I bought it which said it was, “lovely” quite laughable. It’s your typical war horror novel with all of the bloody horrors and disturbing leaders so how “lovely” fits in there is beyond me. Calling The White Guard “lovely” would be like describing a hunting trip with Dick Cheney as “delightful and heart warming.”

Book #30 The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006 by Miss Laura

My second summer reading list book was assigned to students who also have to read “The Scarlet Letter” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

It’s quite different than those two as it is a coming of age novel of a young Mexican woman in Chicago that is told in short little literary sketches rather than chapters. It’s quite well written, and I’m definitely happy that I picked this one up. Plus, like all Mexican related things it’s a shorty!

(I’m going to hell for that, aren’t I?)

Book #27 Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Monday, May 29th, 2006 by Miss Laura

Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas for this year?

I’ve always been a little wary of short stories until I discovered Lorrie Moore who I adore with a passion. There’s something about the emotional blows she can deliver within the span of one paragraph that jar me so completely that I have to love her. After discovering Moore, I was excited to read other short stories thinking maybe I had just been missing it all these years. However, after searching I just couldn’t find another contemporary author who held a candle to her. That is until I came across this find. I ordered it a year ago (after I finished reading Lahiri’s novel, “Namesake”), but since I’m not in charge of book orders I wasn’t able to get my grubby hands on it until this weekend.

As much as I liked “Namesake,” it wasn’t anything but a mildly interesting tale compared to her skill at the short stories in this collection. Some of them were absolutely breathtaking in their execution. I’m trying to think of my favorite, but am having trouble deciding on one. Just read them all.

Book #18 Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Saturday, May 6th, 2006 by Miss Laura

This was the first Turkish novel I believe I have ever read, and it was simply intriguing. It made me want to move to a Cappadocian cave house. Well, spending a thousand dollars on my car and having the “service engine soon” light come on the very next day makes me want to move a cave house. The book just pointed out Turkey as a general destination of interest.

I’ll just have to be sure not to fanatically support any foreign team playing a Turkish one in any sport and not refuse to remove a head scarf. Nor can I fall in love with a beautiful Turkish woman who is the former lover of a militant Islamist idealist who promises to run away to Frankfurt with me until she discovers I just had him killed by giving away his secret hiding place to the police. Other than that it should be a lovely vaction!

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