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Words of Radiance
Brandon Sanderson
Suite Française
Irène Némirovsky, Sandra Smith

Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep - Stephen King Short review...ok. Had it been a stand alone book, it wouldn't have been bad. But as a sequel to The Shining, it did not fill the big shoes that were left behind but that genuinely scary book.

The Sandman: Overture, #1

The Sandman: Overture #1 - J.H. Williams III, Neil Gaiman It feels like only yesterday I was in the world of Morpheus and the Endless...

Fragile Things

Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman A splendid collection from one of my authors. Will give mini-synopses/reviews of the stories.

A Study in Emerald - Wow! I don't know if I've ever read a better short story in my life. Written for an anthology of stories where the world of Sherlock Holmes meets the world of H.P. Lovecraft, Gaiman's take gives The Ancient Ones the sanity-crumbling horror I'm used to and gives Holmes the brilliant see-everything-at-once deductive skills that we expect. A best-of-both-worlds story that's scary, thrilling, and surprising.

The Fairy Reel -

October in the Chair

The Hidden Chamber

Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire

The Flints of Memory Lane

Closing Time

Going Wodwo

Bitter Grounds

Other People

Keepsakes and Treasures

Good Boys Deserve Favors

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch

Strange Little Girls

Harlequin Valentine

Locks

The Problem of Susan

Instructions

How Do You Think It Feels?

My Life

Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot

Feeders and Eaters

Diseasemaker's Croup

In the End

Goliath

Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

The Day the Saucers Came

Sunbird

Inventing Aladdin

The Monarch of the Glen

Mockingjay

Mockingjay - Collins Suzanne I don't know if, after reading these books so long ago, I could write a review for each one...so I'm going to write and all-encompassing review of The Hunger Games Trilogy.

The Hunger Games (Book #1) - The best of the three.
Catching Fire (Book #2) - Gets better from about the half-way point on.
Mockingjay (Book #3) - Not that great. Probably the weakest of the three. Then the ending sucked HARD.

The Hunger Games is a story about North America after a horrific war has wiped out life and government as we know it. The survivors have banded together to form the Capitol City and various outer Districts, each with its own jobs/manufacturing tasks. The Capital City controlled everything to the point that the Districts rose up and revolted. And they were crushed. To remind the Districts that they must never revolt again, the Capital initiated The Hunger Games. Each District must deliver one boy and one girl to fight to the death against the other District children for food.

All this happens before our story begins...

We begin with the 74th annual Hunger Games and our main character, Katniss Everdeen from District 12, is competing in the Games. While it won't shock readers to know that the main character wins the Hunger Games, there are still surprises, twists, and gut-wrenching scenes of loss and heartbreak. This is the first book. It was fantastic and an exceptional read. The Hunger Games could stand alone without the other two books and still be a knock-out first novel. In fact, I kinda wish I stopped reading here.

The second book picks up with the Victory Tour that follows the Hunger Games. Katniss, am anti-authoritative rebel, ended up pissing off the leaders of the Capital City with her actions in the 74th Hunger Games. So during the Victory Tour, she has to deal with the consequences of her actions from her Hunger Game win. This part really seemed somewhat repetitive and boring, especially after all the excitement of the first book. Then, everything changed from the middle of the book on. And it was almost as good as the first book. Definitely full of unexpected surprises until the cliffhanger ending...

The third book picked up from the cliffhanger ending of book two and completely different than the other two books. Mockingjay deals mostly with Katniss Everdeen being the figurehead of a District-wide revolt against the Capital City. The difference in plots alone doesn't make the book bad, just not as interesting as the other two. Then came the surprise "dramatic" conclusion to the trilogy and...IT SUCKED HARD. The ending was SO BAD it pretty much ruined the entire trilogy for me. I don't think I'd ever read these books again, cause I know how it ends and IT. IS. HORRIBLE.

My advice to anyone...Read "The Hunger Games" book #1 and THEN STOP.

Catching Fire

Catching Fire - Suzanne  Collins I don't know if, after reading these books so long ago, I could write a review for each one...so I'm going to write and all-encompassing review of The Hunger Games Trilogy.

The Hunger Games (Book #1) - The best of the three.
Catching Fire (Book #2) - Gets better from about the half-way point on.
Mockingjay (Book #3) - Not that great. Probably the weakest of the three. Then the ending sucked HARD.

The Hunger Games is a story about North America after a horrific war has wiped out life and government as we know it. The survivors have banded together to form the Capitol City and various outer Districts, each with its own jobs/manufacturing tasks. The Capital City controlled everything to the point that the Districts rose up and revolted. And they were crushed. To remind the Districts that they must never revolt again, the Capital initiated The Hunger Games. Each District must deliver one boy and one girl to fight to the death against the other District children for food.

All this happens before our story begins...

We begin with the 74th annual Hunger Games and our main character, Katniss Everdeen from District 12, is competing in the Games. While it won't shock readers to know that the main character wins the Hunger Games, there are still surprises, twists, and gut-wrenching scenes of loss and heartbreak. This is the first book. It was fantastic and an exceptional read. The Hunger Games could stand alone without the other two books and still be a knock-out first novel. In fact, I kinda wish I stopped reading here.

The second book picks up with the Victory Tour that follows the Hunger Games. Katniss, am anti-authoritative rebel, ended up pissing off the leaders of the Capital City with her actions in the 74th Hunger Games. So during the Victory Tour, she has to deal with the consequences of her actions from her Hunger Game win. This part really seemed somewhat repetitive and boring, especially after all the excitement of the first book. Then, everything changed from the middle of the book on. And it was almost as good as the first book. Definitely full of unexpected surprises until the cliffhanger ending...

The third book picked up from the cliffhanger ending of book two and completely different than the other two books. Mockingjay deals mostly with Katniss Everdeen being the figurehead of a District-wide revolt against the Capital City. The difference in plots alone doesn't make the book bad, just not as interesting as the other two. Then came the surprise "dramatic" conclusion to the trilogy and...IT SUCKED HARD. The ending was SO BAD it pretty much ruined the entire trilogy for me. I don't think I'd ever read these books again, cause I know how it ends and IT. IS. HORRIBLE.

My advice to anyone...Read "The Hunger Games" book #1 and THEN STOP.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games  - Suzanne  Collins I don't know if, after reading these books so long ago, I could write a review for each one...so I'm going to write and all-encompassing review of The Hunger Games Trilogy.

The Hunger Games (Book #1) - The best of the three.
Catching Fire (Book #2) - Gets better from about the half-way point on.
Mockingjay (Book #3) - Not that great. Probably the weakest of the three. Then the ending sucked HARD.

The Hunger Games is a story about North America after a horrific war has wiped out life and government as we know it. The survivors have banded together to form the Capitol City and various outer Districts, each with its own jobs/manufacturing tasks. The Capital City controlled everything to the point that the Districts rose up and revolted. And they were crushed. To remind the Districts that they must never revolt again, the Capital initiated The Hunger Games. Each District must deliver one boy and one girl to fight to the death against the other District children for food.

All this happens before our story begins...

We begin with the 74th annual Hunger Games and our main character, Katniss Everdeen from District 12, is competing in the Games. While it won't shock readers to know that the main character wins the Hunger Games, there are still surprises, twists, and gut-wrenching scenes of loss and heartbreak. This is the first book. It was fantastic and an exceptional read. The Hunger Games could stand alone without the other two books and still be a knock-out first novel. In fact, I kinda wish I stopped reading here.

The second book picks up with the Victory Tour that follows the Hunger Games. Katniss, am anti-authoritative rebel, ended up pissing off the leaders of the Capital City with her actions in the 74th Hunger Games. So during the Victory Tour, she has to deal with the consequences of her actions from her Hunger Game win. This part really seemed somewhat repetitive and boring, especially after all the excitement of the first book. Then, everything changed from the middle of the book on. And it was almost as good as the first book. Definitely full of unexpected surprises until the cliffhanger ending...

The third book picked up from the cliffhanger ending of book two and completely different than the other two books. Mockingjay deals mostly with Katniss Everdeen being the figurehead of a District-wide revolt against the Capital City. The difference in plots alone doesn't make the book bad, just not as interesting as the other two. Then came the surprise "dramatic" conclusion to the trilogy and...IT SUCKED HARD. The ending was SO BAD it pretty much ruined the entire trilogy for me. I don't think I'd ever read these books again, cause I know how it ends and IT. IS. HORRIBLE.

My advice to anyone...Read "The Hunger Games" book #1 and THEN STOP.

The Dante Club

The Dante Club - Matthew Pearl Hm. Not sure where to go with this review. I'll start off by saying I liked this book. A lot. So much so that I picked up Matthew Pearl's next two books (The Poe Shadow and The Last Dickens) and have them sitting on my HUGE to-read pile. This is probably one of the biggest compliments I can give an author after reading one book...not often does someone's first novel make me an instant fan.

The book is historical fiction. And the story is the made-up events surrounding the real-life quest of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to complete the first translation of Dante Alighieri's "The Divine Comedy" from Italian to English. Longfellow, along with real-life friends, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr and James Russell Lowell, notice a parallel between recent murders and the various punishments in the "Inferno" canto of "The Divine Comedy". With Dante's famous work being largely unread in America, the three men take it upon themselves to make the connections and solve the crimes.

The novel seamlessly tied fact with fiction and Pearl crafted a thrilling and suspenseful novel that entertained, taught, and got me interested in reading "The Divine Comedy" in its entirety. In fact, the Longfellow translation has been reprinted due to the notoriety it received from Pearl's "The Dante Club".

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A George Smiley Novel

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: A George Smiley Novel - John le Carré So...it's been a while since I've updated this. Sorry.

I'm going to start this review by saying that mystery/crime/whodunnit novels are not my cup of tea. On top of that, I've probably only read one "spy" novel before TTSS and that was a James Bond novel. And NOT an Ian Fleming one, but Sebastian Faulks' "Devil May Care". And I found that one to be 'blah' at best.

So I can say that I felt predispositioned to not like TTSS when I picked it up. But I was looking for something to read, trying to expand the genres that I went in for, and was swayed by both the book's reputation and the commercials for the Gary Oldman film.

That being said, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is, without a doubt, the best spy novel I have ever read (and my list of read spy novels IS growing). It's not an action-packed thriller like a Bourne or Bond movie, but (since it's written by a former spy) a slow, methodical examination of clues and possibilities until the main character, George Smiley, reaches the unthinkable conclusion. I will admit, the spy is NOT the character I suspected.

Despite the slowish pace, the book had me captivated, guessing, and enthralled from the opening pages of Jim Prideaux arriving at his new teaching position to the big reveal and the ensuing fallout.

On a somewhat-related note, the Gary Oldman film version was a total letdown, despite a fantastic cast. The film script was NOT up to par for such a fantastic book.

Full Dark, No Stars

Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King I'm not sure where to begin or how to begin, so I'll start by saying I liked this book. In King's pantheon of short story collections, it isn't the best however. Nor does it really live up to the quality of his recent books, published after his "retirement". But it was still better than some of his later-years/pre-retirement crap.

And I think I can pinpoint my overall liking of this book to the biggest complaint I'm going to lodge against it... I feel like I've read it all before. I know King has written a LOT of tales. In fact, I think he's written one of EVERY possible theme/monster/scare that exists in the horror genre. So I shouldn't be surprised that after a career spanning almost 50 years, he repeats himself. But when you notice it in the middle (or even beginning) of the story, you do tend to feel ripped off. Cheated. Like, "Ugh! I've read this already!" I'll compare the stories in Full Dark, No Stars to the ones I'm reminded of in the individual reviews.

1922 An excellent story to start off King's return to short stories after 2008's Just After Sunset. Incredibly creepy and foreboding, like King’s early work, it showed that he can still scare the crap out of you when he has a good idea to work with. But, in this case, the story feels too similar to the short story "Jerusalem’s Lot" in his collection, Night Shift. Even down to the choice of narration style.

Big Driver One of King's psychological horror stories, instead of the supernatural. It was ok, but seemed to be another version of his "Rest Stop" from Just After Sunset. An author takes a long trip in his/her vehicle and finds himself/herself in a situation where he/she channels one of his/her characters to get out of the situation.

Fair Extension Back to the supernatural horror, the well-used story of a mysterious stranger who shows up to give the main character what he/she most desires with unintended consequences. Considering these consequences involve negative effects on other people, I was reminded of "Thinner", the most famous of King's Richard Bachman books.

A Good Marriage Back to the horror of human nature, this one deals with a woman who discovers her husband MIGHT be a homicidal serial killer. It was ok, with only the ending providing any moments that seemed shocking or surprising. The only story of the four that didn't immediately remind me of something else that King had written.

The Way of the Wizard

The Way of the Wizard - I’m going to preface this review by saying that I will review each of the 36 stories in the anthology. So it’ll take me a while to complete the entire review. But I did want to mark it as finished and move onto my next book :)

In The Lost Lands by George R. R. Martin - An excellent story from the master of mythology. The kind of tale that I can easily see as a small chapter in the next Song of Ice and Fire novel. The entire story was told with a sense of foreboding that came to fruition with the not-so-happy ending. I can only hope that GRRM has gotten the desire to leave his readers saddened out of his system before he finishes the Song of Ice and Fire series.

Family Tree by David Barr Kirtley - A decent story. The idea of the family tree being an actual, physical tree where the limbs died as a family line died out was unique. Probably not enough to base an entire story upon, but different enough to make this tale interesting in theory.

John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner by Susanna Clarke - A classic tale of an omnipotent king being bested by an unwitting peasant. A nice retelling, proving that even wizards fear power that is stronger than theirs.

Wizard’s Apprentice by Delia Sherman - Another good, quick read. A boy runs away from an abusive home and becomes apprentice to an evil wizard. It’s a tale of family, and what makes a family, that just happens to involve a wizard.

The Sorcerer Minus by Jeffrey Ford - A short tale of a terribly evil wizard who gets his two servants (a guy and a rat) to do his bidding. But when he gets the rat to get rid of the guy, things go wrong…

Life So Dear Or Peace So Sweet by C. C. Finlay - A good story that keeps you guessing. A witch and a warlock, in Revolutionary War times, are given the task of getting rid of pirates. Only the pirate is magical in his own right and his treasure is not what it seems…

Card Sharp by Rajan Khanna - Fantastic story! Magicians are given a deck of cards and the higher the suit, the more powerful the magic that can be cast. But once you're through your 52 cards, your magic is no more…

So Deep That the Bottom Could Not Be Seen by Genevieve Valentine - A morality story about global warming and taking care of the planet. Okay. The story focuses on the last Inuit Shaman as she’s brought to the United Nations for a delegation of magicians (real and fake) and how she comes into her own.

The Go-Slow by Nnedi Okorafor - Sucked. A Nigerian movie actor is stuck in traffic and he’s hunted by either shape-shifters or people controlling animals. I don’t really remember because it was horrendous.

Too Fatal a Poison by Krista Hoeppner Leahy - Excellent! The behind-the-scenes story of Elpenor from Homer’s “The Odyssey” and what happened to make him drink to excess and fall to his death.

Jamaica by Orson Scott Card - Not bad… But not great. A nice idea that fell apart when everything was was neatly and conveniently wrapped up on the last page. Just like the overrated “Ender’s Game” was wrapped up with one sentence “It’s not a simulation!”

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Robert Silverberg - A love story. I guess I’m not surprised that a love story had to pop up eventually. Not bad, but not great. At least the story of a young man trying to study wizardry wasn’t hampered by the portions of the tale that dealt with him being lovestruck by his mentor.

The Secret of Calling Rabbits by Wendy N. Wagner - Another crappy story. A dwarf meets a little girl and she wants to know how he can call rabbits. Then she’s older, or something, and dying. And he saves her, but ends up becoming a plant. Or something. Sucked.

The Wizards of Perfil by Kelly Link - Huh? I don’t know where to begin with this one. It was a confusing, jumbled mess. I was bored halfway through it and cannot tell you exactly why I didn’t like because, to this day, I still cannot begin to understand what the hell was happening during the story. The editor should have done a better job and axed this stinker.

How to Sell the Ponti Bridge by Neil Gaiman - I am actually going to level a “complaint” against a Neil Gaiman story… It was too short. I wanted more of the rogues, thieves, and connivers. This was one of the few stories that I would read a novel that expanded on the story.

The Magician and the Maid and Other Stories by Christie Yant - A good story. A woman is held prisoner in a library. The woman is also the main character of a fairytale called “The Magician and the Maid” which resides on the shelf in the library where she is trapped. Can she find her book and escape…

Winter Solstice by Mike Resnick - Another fantastic entry in a book that’s been all over the place in terms of quality. Another side to Merlin, the magician of Arthurian legend. This one concerns Merlin living backwards in time and fragility of his memories.

The Trader and the Slave by Cinda Williams Chima - Not a bad story. A powerful sorcerer hires a slave for a night, then buys her from her duplicitous, evil owner.

Cerile and the Journeyer by Adam-Troy Castro - Awesome! Very short, but amazing story about a man and his quest for an all-powerful sorceress, Cerile, who will bring him happiness.

Counting the Shapes by Yoon Ha Lee - Average, at best. A war of wizards. A family squabble. Math. The story is less than the sum of its parts, unfortunately.

Endgame by Lev Grossman - Great short story! Definitely makes me want to read “The Magicians” and its sequel. Wizards in training battle in an everyday environment. Nuff said.

Street Wizard by Simon R. Green - Better than I was expecting. A wizard works for London and keeps the streets clean and city peaceful. Based on his working hours, he’s also friends with prostitutes. More certainly, not the worst of this lot.

Mommy Issues of the Dead by T. A. Pratt - A wizard for hire gets caught in the middle of two magical brothers fighting over a powerful object. And things are not what they seem…

One Click Banishment by Jeremiah Tolbert - A fun read for me (wizards are computer programmers and the programs are spells) because of my experience in the IT field. The basis of the world created was interesting and really came together well. I did, however, feel the ending was ruined with the twist being brought up earlier in the story.

The Ereshkigal Working by Jonathan L. Howard - A powerful magician (Necromancer, actually) stops a zombie outbreak, started by a nemesis causing trouble. Would be an interesting read, if you’re familiar with Howard’s stories about said Necromancer. Otherwise, it’s…meh.

Feeding the Feral Children by David Farland - Pretty shitty. I wish I could remember more. I’m staring at the actual pages as I type this, and the story is still a blur of bad writing.

The Orange-Tree Sacrifice by Vylar Kaftan - The shortest of the stories, it’s brevity and ambiguity had me enrapt and wanting more. Enticing with so few words…

Love is the Spell That Casts Out Fear by Desirina Boskovich - Two tales of two Hannah’s (one in the real world, and one in a magical world) overlap without either of them knowing it. Pretty decent story.

El Regalo by Peter S. Beagle - Fantastic! Only the second piece of work that I’ve read by Beagle, it was a magical as “The Last Unicorn”. One of the longest stories, it felt short and was a quick read because it sucked you in and left you hurrying to get to the next page. The "twist" or "surprise" ending to the story was also done by one of the previous stories, but done better by Beagle.

The Word of Unbinding by Ursula K. Le Guin - Another great story. The hopelessness of the main character is palpable on every page. Similar to the cloying, winter wasteland in her classic novel “The Left Hand of Darkness”. The ending left me sad and happy at the same time.

The Thirteen Texts of Arthyria by John R. Fultz - A man who feels not part of our world is drawn to a book. Then a second. And a third. And each one takes him more and more away from our world and into Arthyria. Nice tale.

The Secret of the Blue Star by Marion Zimmer Bradley - An excellent story to close on. Wizards doing battle and trying to steal each other’s powers. The kind of story that I was hoping for more of when I bought the book. It successfully, and slowly, built up the mystery of the main character’s “secret” until revealing the unexpected truth at the end. Marvelous

The Time Machine: An Invention

The Time Machine: An Invention - H.G. Wells, W.A. Dwiggins, Ursula K. Le Guin Obviously, The Time Machine is a well-known classic. And from the 4 (of 5) star review, it's clear that I enjoyed it. So I'll skip that and go to some random thoughts...

I could not believe how short of a story it was. Calling it a novella is, in my opinion, a stretch. Having seen two movie versions, I thought myself familiar with the ins and outs of the story and couldn't believe how much of both movies is made up for the screenplays. I understand that an 80-page short story would need to be fleshed-out to be made into full-length movie, but WOW so much of the movies was changed and molded by the filmmakers. For starters, none of the Eloi or Morlocks speak. To be honest, I still have no idea how the time traveling main character learned their names. And the relationship between the female Eloi (Weena, the only named character) is more of a parent/child or babysitter/child than a love affair and seen in several adaptions, like the Guy Pearce movie.

Overall, it is definitely a fantastic novel. And one can easily see how it shaped and changed science fiction forever. I think everyone should forget the story of The Time Machine that they know from TV and movies and read this novella. A game changer.

Phantom

Phantom - Thomas Tessier I first heard of Tessier's Phantom via the Top 40 horror novels on the Horror Writer's Association website. The list is available here: http://www.horror.org/readlist.htm in alphabetical order.

The book was a quick read. Very crisp and concise. And it was a classic, supernatural-presence tale of horror and suspense. A straight-forward spooky tale without too many twists or turns. Just genuine fright. The ending, I will say, was not what I was expecting. Which came as a shock, considering the book mainly followed the plot structure of classic ghost stories.

Overall, it wasn't bad. But it wasn't anything to write home about either. Would I put it on my list of top 40 horror novels? Probably not. But I can see why people liked its simplicity at a time (it was published in the 1980s) when horror writers seemed to be getting more and more convoluted.

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Series, #1)

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Series, #1) - Madeleine L'Engle Great book! VERY imaginative! While I found the main character of Meg to be a bit annoying for stretches in the middle, it was still a quick, fantastic read. The Catholicism scattered throughout did grate on me, but it wasn't enough to turn me off from the story.

Overall, a must-read for fantasy and sci-fi fans alike.

A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons - George R.R. Martin I really don't know what to say, other than IT'S LONG. It might be my least favorite of the five, and my dislike for it is compounded by the fact that I had to wait FOREVER for it to be published. To me, it left like they cut parts out of A Feast For Crows that didn't advance the plot and just shoved them into A Dance With Dragons.

In short: NOTHING HAPPENS.

For a book titled "Dance With Dragons", I actually expected the dragons in the book to - I don't know - DO SHIT. Instead, I get Bran turning into an omnipotent tree.

I know that George R. R. Martin is not my bitch (shout out to Neil Gaiman...yo!), but the dude better put his editing of compilation novels aside and churn out the next book as soon as possible to held get rid of the bad taste this one left me...

Reliquary

Reliquary - Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child Not as good as Relic, but makes me interested in reading more Pendergast novels...

The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson Like all first books of a long series - with new worlds, secrets, and rules - Way of Kings was a little slow-moving in the beginning as everything was laid out. And, at first, I felt there were quite a few too many characters to keep straight.

But once the story started to progress, it REALLY took off. And when the various stories started to point towards each other, everything just fell into place. I really like that the story didn't follow the usual structure of similar fantasy stories. A few things happened that I either didn't anticipate or that went the opposite of what I was thinking was going to happen. Really kept me guessing up until the end.

I would definitely recommend and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.