The Crippled God by Steven Erikson

The tenth and last volume in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, The Crippled God was intense, moving, sad, uplifting, frightening, and very very long – which in this case is a good thing since there was still so much story left to tell in this saga of soldiers, heroes and the not quite so heroic, gods, dragons, and ordinary people in extraordinary situations.  Is there something somewhere in the human race that is actually worth fighting, or rather, dying for?  Something worth going to the very extremities of the human condition and beyond?  Something that even when “unwitnessed” is worth the sacrifice?

I was so afraid that this series would end unsatisfactorily.  I should have trusted in Steven Erikson.  As usual, the book started off slow as I had to reacquaint myself with all the characters.  Then it began to wind itself tighter and tighter until I could barely breath while reading.  And I cried over and over.

I am so grateful my friend Paul told me about this story.  I wish I had started reading it the minute he mentioned it, but I wasn’t sure I was going to like it.  It is huge, complex, confusing, and extremely enjoyable.  I didn’t understand a lot of it on the first read-through, but I loved it and now I am going to have to read all of it again and again.  I’d put this up there at the top of my list for dark fantasy.

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River Marked by Patricia Briggs

River Marked cover art

The sixth in the Mercy Thompson series, River Marked (published March 2011) has us looking deeper into Mercy’s Native American heritage as she battles a nasty river monster on her honeymoon. What could be worse then being attacked by an otter-woman in Wal-Mart? How about getting knocked into a river by Coyote to bait a dragon?

I really enjoyed this volume. Mercy is a wonderful character who continues to grow without compromising her own self or having to give up on her power. Her relationships with her husband, her friends, her pack, and her family continue to engross, and I look forward to seeing what she gets into next.

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Though Not Dead by Dana Stabenow

The eighteenth in the Kate Shugak mystery series, Though Not Dead takes us through some more Alaskan and Shugak history, treating us to a lot more Old Sam and some good stuff about the Aunties (especially Antie Joyce).  We also get an intimate glimpse into why Jim Chopin is who he is, as he goes stateside for his father’s funeral.  And I was in tears at the ending which I definitely do not intend to spoil here.  One of the best parts (and don’t tell Kate!) was how much of this novel she spends laid out on her back (and not in a good way).  Our little bit of kick-ass Kate gets kicked around quite a bit in this book.  Dana Stabenow also paves the way for her next one in this series, Restless in the Grave, with a disturbing glimpse at the first murder committed by someone we already know and hate.  Or at least I hope so, Dana is pretty closed-mouth about the book so far.

I really admire Dana Stabenow, not just as a writer.  Watch some of her videos, like this one if you don’t mind spoilers!,  and you will see why.  She’s got a great sense of humor.

Posted in 2011 Reading List, Mystery | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

Rachel Morgan and the crew are heading cross country in Book Nine from the Hollows series by Kim Harrison..  Things heat up between Rach and Trent in this volume, and all sorts of deviltry and witchery ensue.  I still want to smack Rachel upside the head more often then not, but you gotta love the red-heads who are always trying to do the right thing.  I’m still debating over how book wraps up – why are powerful women always written up to feel like they need to constrain their power in order to “be themselves”?   I don’t get it.  It is all kick-ass and take names until “love” is involved, then they castrate themselves to prove how good they are.  Well maybe castrate isn’t the right term.  A male hero certainly wouldn’t voluntarily cut his dick off to win the woman of his dreams, would he?  So why should the female protagonist have to.  Especially with how “special” female demons are… considering there are only two left, and that what makes them special is their ability to hold a soul inside them – you’d think Ms. Harrison would just let Rachel rip. 

But in spite of that, I love this series and I really did like Pale Demon.  I wish I could pull off a skin tight white leather dress!

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Towers of Midnight, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

I’ve finished the thirteenth book in the Wheel of Time series.  This particular installment is even better than the last book, and has me very eager for the final chapter, A Memory of Light, due March 2012.  Perrin Aybara and Mat Cauthon figure heavily in this volume, with Rand, Elayne, Egwene, Aviendha, and the others less so but with some memorable moments.  It is really great to see Rand kicking some serious ass.  My only complaint, as throughout the entire series, is how the characters seem stuck in the “men versus women” attitude that they started out with.  I mean, after all this time, you’d think they would trust and understand each other a little bit better.  I was very glad to see Perrin picking up his hammer and taking responsibility (and credit) for who he is.  Lan also seems to have settled into his king’s crown.  And not to spoil things, but very happy to see a certain woman in the arms and tattered cloak of the man who has loved her all this time.

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Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Finished this wonderful collection of short stories and poems, including my favorite, Snow, Glass, Apples, by the fantastic Neil Gaiman

“Stories are told by survivors”

And you can’t always trust the survivor’s version of the tale, can you?

I admire the way this man can put words together.  His prose is poetic enough; his poems simply sing out their wonderful tales.  I have read many of these in other anthologies, but this collection is well worth having on my Kindle.

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Stardust by Neil Gaiman

I really enjoyed this fairy tale.  Once again I was a few chapters in before I realized I had seen the movie, but really the movie did not do it justice (although I loved it and the casting of Claire Danes as Yvaine was inspired).  Gaiman has a lovely way with the language, and his story-telling skills are well crafted, thorough, and original. 

It’s not hard to own something. Or everything. You just have to know that it’s yours and then be willing to let it go.

There is a proverbial saying chiefly concerned with warning against too closely calculating the numerical value of unhatched chicks.

Adventures are all very well in their place, he thought, but there’s a lot to be said for regular meals and freedom from pain.

Next up on my reading list is his story collection Smoke and Mirrors.  I’ve read several of the pieces in this collection before (“Snow, Glass, Apples” is hard to forget!) and am looking forward to re-reading them.

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