Friday, July 30, 2010

Tough Fatherhood -- The White Road

I'll always pick up a Lynn Flewelling book based on her Bone Doll books, which I found creepy, evocative and tragic. Both those and the Nightrunner books are set in the same fantasy world, but the Nightrunner series started as light-hearted action stories, with thieves and disguises and fellow adventures and such. The White Road
is the fifth book in this series.The White Road

Each book has grown in emotional depth, which I'm actually a bit grumpy about, since I really liked the wild adventure quick moves of the first book about Seregil and his companion Alec. My mind is still set for a fun caper story, but the themes and events push away from that simplicity. This one has them dealing with the effects of the slavery from the previous books, with added assassins and genocidal types to keep things grim.

However, my main problem is an issue of my own. In the original stories, Alec was a very young man who teamed up with the much older Seregil through some misadventures (caper stuff!). As the books developed, they became romantically involved. I have the same distaste for this as I do for Tamora Pierce's pairing between Daine and her much older tutor -- I don't like guardian/ward bonds, especially when the guardian is the main figure in the youth's life. The power imbalance makes it icky. If I want to keep reading these, I should probably go back and skim the earlier ones to see it develop; my blind spot for these relationships is huge, and the books are old enough that gay couples are rare, which didn't help. C+

Library Thursday!

I dragged along a whole horde of neighborhood kids, who had a bit of trouble with the library=quiet concept, but when the fourth graders learned that a library card gave you computer access they converted. Also, A got the display case, which is now chock full of High School Musical collectibles. Next week X will fill the other case, probably with Pokemon delights. Clearly we are the cool library patrons!

We fled quickly, what with the novice library users screaming and running about and all.

My groaning hold shelf offered up:
  • Happy Hour at Casa Dracula for an online book club next month
  • Liaden Universe Companion, Vol 1. Part of my giant re-read program.
  • Midnight Sins, basic paranormal romance, I expect.
  • Leaving Paradise, last month's online book club book, delivered too late.
  • Bullet, another Laurell K Hamilton vampire fest. Very vampiry week.
  • The Hero Strikes Back, which comes after the previous Hero book.
  • Kidzbop 1. We are commencing a musical journey. Heaven help us.
Total Books from Library Elf (counting all the kid stuff that I'm legally responsible for even if I hope not to read it): 105. Stuff on my card: 66.

I'll go sign up for Library Loot this week. That's a weekly event hosted in turns by Marg's Reading Adventures (this week's host) and new co-host Clare at the Captive Reader where bloggers can share their library finds of the week. Some of them make me look restrained.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Reading Ethics: Tiger Eye

imageMarjorie Liu writes delightful romances about her Dirk and Steele detective agency, where the agents all have super powers. Tiger Eye is the first in the series, about a young blacksmith (Delilah) with magic powers over metal who buys an old box containing a shape-shifting warrior (Hari) cursed to serve as a slave to whomever owns the box. There's an evil magician trying to win back the box, there are the other magical members of the agency who come over to keep Delilah safe from the assassins hired by the grieving criminal family of a murdered little girl, and there is true love developing between Delilah and Hari. Oh, I forgot about the dragon.

I read this last year, and remember it fondly, although the best part is the beginning, when the plot keeps exploding. Fondly enough to drop ten bucks on the computer game, which I played with the kids on our latest vacation. The game is a cute puzzle and logic type thing, with cut scenes in between covering the plot of the first half of the book.

Here's my dilemma. The game was a gentle PG-13, with a few kisses between the characters and a bit of violence. The book is much racier, with the standard romance sex scenes, including details of oral sex, and an extended sequence where Hari turns into a tiger (although without spikes, I guess). My sixth grader liked the story in the game, and wants to read the book. I've never stopped anyone from reading anything, but I really don't want him to imprint on scenes involving changing species. He's read stuff with sex in them before, but not this explicit and not this close to puberty. (Hi, Wen Spencer's Ukiah series, which taught him to read.)

I'm thinking I'll put a book mark in showing where the game stopped (it only covered the first half, which is the best part anyway) and recommend he stop there. That's where it really starts shifting from action-adventure to spend more time on the True Love part. X trusts that I know what he likes, so he'll probably actually stop there if I tell him it really drags from then on, which I think it would for him. Am I deluding myself? Maybe he'll take one look at the cover and recognize it as a girl book.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Old Series: Changes

Changes is the 12th book in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, about gumshoe-tough wizard Harry Dresden in Chicago. Dresden has dealt with werewolves, vampires, wizard politics, mob guys, unexpected family members, fae troubles, and things were getting a bit top-heavy, or so Butcher thought. So the end of this book has a general shake-up reminiscent of the Sookie Stackhouse book of last year. Except that Butcher doesn't have the toughness of mind that Harris showed -- the body count is preposterously low for what happens.

It's definitely a transition book; Harry must gather all his buddies together, so we get reminded of all the parts of his life but don't really learn anything new about the people (not counting the Big Secret, which is not one of my favorite ideas but doesn't really change anything) and then moves off in a new direction at the end. I found the long battle scenes dragged a bit, but I liked the idea of the new direction. And how Butcher has an excuse to stop writing if he wants. Every Dresden book ends with an afterward about the books Butcher REALLY likes writing, which has left me wondering how much he hates Harry by now. Not enough to kill his cat, thank goodness.

(Amy, if you read these, the dog lives too.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm Back: Resenting the Hero

Hello, long lost blog! I went out for a drive, and then I almost didn't come back. Actually, after my double vacation I went on a re-reading spree, which meant I wasn't reading new books, and I'm incorrigibly lazy. But now I have reformed!

book cover of  Resenting the Hero  by Moira J MooreThe book I have finally finished is Moira J. Moore's Resenting the Hero, a light SF book on a distant planet where geologic upheavals make life uncertain, until pairs called Sources and Shields used their cool powers to tame things. Lee is a Shield newly bonded with her Source, Taro, and not at all pleased with the fate that matched her with the infamous playboy as her teammate. The book is about them making friends, discovering the value in each other, and saving the world. Fun, but I found the first person distracting because Lee spends the whole book lying to herself in very obvious ways. It's not really an unreliable narrator, more "I wasn't going to let his annoying habits bother me, I thought as I ground my teeth." I'm hoping for less of that in the sequel, which I'll order from the library. B

What have I been reading instead of new books? First I reread the Sharing Knife books by Lois McMaster Bujold, then I reread a lot of her Vorkosigan books, then I reread most of the Liaden books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Liaden books are romantic space opera, with Liaden society all bound up in rules and fancy bows, and rough-mannered Terrans all confused by it, and deus-ex-machina turtles with their giant spaceships dropping by to save the day. All our favorite characters are space Pilots, with super-duper reflexes and math skillz, and everyone manages that most elusive of pairings, the Lifemating. The lucky characters also get to have green eyes. And magic.

I started with Fledgling (Liaden Universe) and Saltation (The Liaden Universe), which I hadn't read since they were published, and then went on to all the earlier books. Lucky for me there is another coming out soon.

I make fun of my joy, but I do love them. I hope Nova and Nelirikk discover their lifemate bond as soon as possible. And I hope they write that book about Theo and the old tech, and I believe that is Ghost Ship and will be out soon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

William S. and the Great Escape: Snyder Knows Children

Zilpha Keatley Snyder thinks kids think the way I remember thinking and the way kids around seem to think, which makes her books fun and realistic. Although she has written a few fantasies, I prefer her realistic books, although I group the books set in a realistic setting with magic items among the them. William S. and the Great Escape relies on no magic, just kids taking initiative for the own problems and reaching out to other children for help and comfort. Some adults are bad, some are helpful, but the focus is on the children. Tasty comfort food for the elementary set. B.