#junebookbugs – June 27 – Set In The Southern Hemisphere

So these are the first two books in a YA series set in Australia. (The first two are on Kindle Unlimited right now!) The series is apparently very popular in Australia, but I’d never heard of it until an internet friend told me I should read them. They’re about Australia getting invaded – by who is purposefully left vague – while these kids are out on a camping trip in the bush. So they come home to find their town empty, and have to puzzle together what happened and decide what they’re going to do. They’re pretty good. I didn’t finish the series because I had a falling out with the internet friend, and attached bad outside feelings to the books, unfortunately. But I always found it interesting how books can be wildly popular in one place, and completely unheard of in another.

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The #junebookbugs Index Post is here.

#junebookbugs June 26th – Published in the 80’s

I had a moment of “I don’t know what was published in the 80s! I just read!” but then I realized I do know of at least one book I own that was published in the 80s. (I probably could have checked the publishing dates on some of the Heinlein, and then just randomly started checking my other older stuff…) But Willow! I actually own both Willow, and the trilogy inspired by it that was published many years later. If you haven’t read the trilogy, it’s an excellent spiritual successor to the original story, and is worth a read.

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The #junebookbugs Index Post is here.

Book Review: The Giver

thegiver

The Giver
by Lois Lowry
225 pages
Dystopian Fiction
Published 1993

So, I know The Giver has been out for a long time, and I know they made a movie, but somehow I’d never read or watched it. But on the recommendation of a friend, I finally have. What a strange little book! It definitely belongs in the same realm as Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, 1984, and The Handmaid’s Tale – which are among my favorite books – but the ending was tremendously unsatisfying. It’s the first book in a quartet, though, so I’m hoping the other three, which I have requested from the library, will tie up the loose ends. It definitely feels like it’s only the first installment of a story.

The dystopian society in this book has effectively banished most feelings. But to get rid of hate and war and prejudice, they also had to banish the memories and feelings of individuality and difference. With everyone and everything the same, they’re mostly incapable of feeling true love or happiness. So they all live in peace – but it’s a complacent, uncaring peace. It’s not peace because of love, it’s peace because of the absence of passionate feelings. Whether this is good or not, well, that’s up to the reader to decide for themselves. The actions of the main character, who aims to disrupt that peace, could be seen as good or bad.

I’m not actually sure how I feel about this book. I will probably have a better opinion once I read the next three – Gathering Blue (2000), Messenger (2004), and Son (2012).

From the back cover:

“I have great honor,” The Giver said. “So will you. But you will find that that is not the same as power.”

Life in the community where Jonas lives is idyllic. Designated birthmothers produce newchildren, who are assigned to appropriate family units: one male, one female, to each. Citizens are assigned their partners and their jobs. No one thinks to ask questions. Everyone obeys. The community is a precisely choreographed world without conflict, inequality, divorce, unemployment, injustice….or choice. 

Everyone is the same.

Except Jonas.

At the Ceremony of Twelve, the community’s twelve-year-olds eagerly accept their predetermined Life Assignments. But Jonas is chosen for something special. He begins instruction in his life’s work with a mysterious old man known only as The Giver. Gradually Jonas learns that power lies in feelings. But when his own power is put to the test – when he must try to save someone he loves – he may not be ready. Is it too soon? Or too late?

#junebookbugs June 24th – Urban Fantasy

Ooo, urban fantasy. One of my favorite genres. (Seriously, go back through this blog, you’ll see!) I simply took a picture of my shelf. The important thing to note, here, is that this shelf is stacked with paperbacks – three deep! We’re probably going to weed out books next time we move. (That’s going to be a herculean task…) But in this picture we have Patricia BriggsMercy Thompson series and Alpha and Omega series, which exist in the same universe, as well as When Demons Walk, which is, kind of randomly, the fourth book in a different series. we also have representatives of Jim Butcher‘s two main series, The Dresden Files and The Codex Alera. (The latter is high fantasy, not urban fantasy, though.) Below those, we have one of Kresley Cole‘s urban fantasy romances, and a few from Christine Feehan‘s Leopard series and Witch series. (The Dark-whatever, Carpathian series, and the supernatural soldier series is behind these.) The Ian Douglas books are more hard sci-fi than urban fantasy, but the bookshelf is mostly alphabetized, so that’s where they go! And you can just see one of my many Robert Heinlein books below those, though again, that’s more hard sci-fi.

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You can find my first #junebookbugs post (I started partway through the month), as well as links to the rest of my #junebookbugs posts, here.

Book Review: Black Heart Loa

BlackheartloaBlack Heart Loa
by Adrian Phoenix
Published 2011
416 pages
Urban Fantasy

This was on my library’s “used books for sale” shelf, on the Christmas sale of 2 books for $1. The premise looked interesting – haven’t seen hoodoo-centered urban fantasy before! So I searched around to find a second book (The Elfish Gene) and bought them both. And I’m glad I did, even if I haven’t read The Elfish Gene yet! Black Heart Loa is actually the second in Phoenix’s Hoodoo series, the first being Black Dust Mambo. Even without reading the first one, Black Heart Loa is easy to follow, and the events of Black Dust Mambo are easily understood, without really having them rehashed to the reader. Part of that, I expect, is because Black Heart Loa is dealing with the fallout of the events of Black Dust Mambo, so things get explained in a natural progression in the book.

BHL was a rolicking fun ride through the swamps of Louisiana. I can’t speak for the accuracy of how the hoodoo belief system is represented, but most religious beliefs in urban fantasy get a vigorous twisting from the author, as miracles and magic become real in the fictional world. So I’m not terribly worried about the accuracy, as long as they’re not portrayed solely in a good or bad light. And in BHL there are both good and bad practitioners of hoodoo, illustrating the point that it’s not the religion that is inherently good or bad, but the person practicing it. So that moral quandary aside, I really, REALLY enjoyed this book. Kallie is a fun, ass-kicking, smart-talking protagonist, though I found myself wanting to know more about her best friend, a mambo-in-training.

I especially want to know more about a character who was introduced late in the book, but the ending of the book implies more books to come, and more focus on the character I’m intrigued by, so I’ll have to see if I can dig up more of this series. Amazon says this book is 2 of 2 in the series, so hopefully the author is still going to write more!

From the back of Black Heart Loa:

“An eye for an eye is never enough.”

Kallie Riviere, a Cajun hoodoo apprentice with a bent for trouble, learned the meaning of those ominous words when hoodoo bogeyman Doctor Heron targeted her family for revenge. Now, while searching for her still-missing bayou pirate cousin, Kallie finds out the hard way that someone is undoing powerful gris gris, which means that working magic has become as unpredictable as rolling a handful of dice. The wards woven to protect the Gulf coast are unraveling, leaving New Orleans and the surrounding bayous vulnerable just as an unnatural storm – the deadliest in a century – is born. As the hurricane powers toward the heart of all she loves, Kallie desperately searches for the cause of the disturbing randomness, only to learn a deeply unsettling truth: the culprit may be herself. To protect her family and friends, including the sexy nomad Layne Vallin, Kallie steps into the jaws of danger . . . and finds a loup garou designed to steal her heart – literally.

Book Review: Revenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns

pradaRevenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns
by Lauren Weisberger
433 pages
Published 2013
Modern Fiction

I probably should have read The Devil Wears Prada first – I haven’t even seen the movie! I do know the basic premise, though, and reading this book does make me want to see the movie sometime soon. Perhaps I’ll check Netflix for it. (Though I just went to the library and brought home a new load of books, so perhaps not!)

It was an okay story, I suppose. Not my usual fare, though. Andy Sachs, the unfortunate assistant whose story was told in The Devil Wears Prada, returns, a decade after the events of the first book. She’s started a wedding magazine with her best friend, and it’s become wildly successful. Then Elias-Clark, the publishing company headed by Miranda Priestly (the “Devil” from the title), makes an offer to buy the magazine and it goes downhill from there.

I really was not thrilled by this book. Miranda only makes a few appearances, and while her influence is felt through the entire book, it’s more Andy’s fear of her that permeates the book rather than Miranda’s own driven personality. I wanted to see more of the Devil herself!

Reading other reviews on Amazon, I’m not alone, and apparently the first book was FAR better. Which is good to know, I suppose, but I still probably won’t bother to read it. I might watch the movie – I remember the previews were hysterical – but I won’t waste the time on the book. That’s also my recommendation for this sequel. Don’t waste your time.

From the back of Revenge Wears Prada:

Almost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job “a million girls would die for” working for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine—a dream that turned out to be a nightmare. Andy and Emily, her former nemesis and co-assistant, have since joined forces to start a highend bridal magazine. The Plunge has quickly become required reading for the young and stylish. Now they get to call all the shots: Andy writes and travels to her heart’s content; Emily plans parties and secures advertising like a seasoned pro. Even better, Andy has met the love of her life. Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, is confident, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous. Their wedding will be splashed across all the society pages as their friends and family gather to toast the glowing couple. Andy Sachs is on top of the world. But karma’s a bitch. The morning of her wedding, Andy can’t shake the past. And when she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications, her wedding-day jitters turn to cold dread. Andy realizes that nothing—not her husband, nor her beloved career—is as it seems. She never suspected that her efforts to build a bright new life would lead her back to the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago—and directly into the path of the devil herself…