Book Report: Woven by Michael Jensen and David Powers King

wpid-wp-1436475450142.jpgRarely do my passions for string crafts and fantasy collide as “seamlessly” as in Woven.

This was a fun read, and it felt fresh and original despite its rather run-of-the-mill pseudo-medieval setting. (I didn’t read the back of the book beforehand, so I was surprised when the main character died a couple chapters in. He is loads of fun as a ghost!) I particularly enjoyed the magic system, as it is based on sewing and weaving.

My niece read the first half of the book to me while we drove back and forth to WIFYR, and I liked it so much that I bought a copy after I got back to Washington. I will be sure to watch for other books by these authors.

I recommend Woven for teens and up, particularly those of a crafty persuasion.

Happy Yarning!

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Book Report: Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

IMG_4507Little Lord Fauntleroy is a quick, happy read. I enjoyed it quite a bit more than I anticipated.

The narrator’s droll voice had me smiling or chuckling nearly every page. The characters are not very complex, but I loved them anyway. I felt I knew them from the moment they stepped into the story.

Recommended for everyone.

Happy Yarning!

P.S. Pretty sure I know now who Cedric Diggory’s namesake is. Just saying.

Book Report: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

IMG_4486I’d forgotten how much fun these are. It’s been a few years since I read books 1 and 2.

This one has its dark moments, but it also made me laugh a lot. I like that the narrator is the first to point out irony in any situation. It makes me willing to suspend my disbelief almost indefinitely.

I recommend this series for anyone looking for adventure and a good dose of silliness.

Happy Yarning!

Book Report: His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

IMG_4475I loved this book. It’s set during the Napoleonic wars, and it reads like it was written then, down to the punctuation. The main character had all the sensibilities of an upper class man of his time. He felt like he walked off the pages of a navy captain’s journal.

And then there were dragons inserted seamlessly into the world.

I can’t recommend this too highly. It’s so far above something like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

My kind of “historical” fiction!

Happy Yarning.

Book Report: Yearbook by Allyson Braithwaite Condie

IMG_4448One of my writing groups decided to read this in our efforts to improve at juggling multiple point of view characters. I have to confess, I wouldn’t have read the whole thing otherwise.

The author had about eight or ten viewpoint characters. Most of the chapters were told in first person narrative style, but some were in the form of journal entries or poetry. Smaller ways she differentiated the voices were with sarcasm or a high vocabulary.

One thing that really helped to keep the narrators straight was that she alluded to specific events from the character’s previous chapters.

My main beef with the book was that it was supposed to be set in Seattle, but for a good chunk of the beginning I thought they were in Utah. Having lived in both the Seattle area and Provo, Utah, I didn’t feel the author captured the feel of Seattle or the people here at all.

I think it’s still a good read for Mormon teens because, let’s face it, there aren’t a whole lot of books out there with Mormon main characters. But those who didn’t grow up in Seattle will probably enjoy it more than those who did.

Happy Yarning!

Book Report: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

IMG_4389I put off reading this for years after it was recommended to me. I think it was the cover that turned me off. I couldn’t relate to that girl on the cover. She looked like the heroine of a sappy romance.

You’d think I would’ve learned by now not to judge books by their covers.

The Goose Girl is full of frank characters and great imagery. I enjoyed it very much. It didn’t matter that I knew the story already since I grew up on Grimms’ fairy tales.

Highly recommended.

Merry Christmas!

Sleep-Deprived Characters

For understandable reasons, sleep–or the lack thereof–has been on my mind.

Off the top of my head, I can think of several ways sleep is used in fiction.

  • It can provide a handy scene or chapter break.
  • It offers the possibility of dreams, which are often used to reveal a character’s inner thoughts/fears/etc. or for the purposes of foreshadowing or other exposition.
  • It can be an attack–think sleeping spells/potions or chloroform.
  • Also a handy way to make plans go awry if a character dozes off. Characters are also vulnerable to attack when sleeping.

But what about a lack of sleep? is there a point in your story when your character is sleep-deprived? What does that do to her?

In college I could go one night with no sleep, or about three nights with insufficient sleep, before I crashed. Now I’ve been running on insufficient sleep for nearly a month. And I realized something.

I am a completely different person when I am sleep-deprived.

I get touchy, irritable, pessimistic, fearful, unreasonable, weepy. I take everything personally. My self-esteem goes right out the window.

As soon as I catch a good nap, all of that goes away. I’m back to cheerful, capable, reasonable me.

So what happens to your character(s)? I won’t buy it if, for example, they’re still thinking clearly after three days of being on the run, constantly hunted, sleeping lightly and in shifts.

Just saying.

Happy Sleeping!

Book Report: Krondor The Betrayal by Ramond E. Feist

IMG_4354This novel has reminded me why I don’t usually go in for epic fantasy. If you just want an adventure, with some quirky guys, headstrong ladies, a big bad, magic, mysterious clues, a climactic battle, and a few side quests, this is perfect for you.

But I want more character depth. For example, the main characters slice up bandits and assassins every other page with about as much thought or emotion as a D&D player. Their actions are never called into question because they’re the good guys.

The writing was also nothing spectacular. It could have been edited closer for repetitve words and phrases.

I’m not saying all epic fantasy is flat and wordy, but I found this novel disappointingly so.

Edit: It turns out this is a novelization of a video game (not noted on the cover). Everything makes much more sense.

Book Report: The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf by Gerald Morris

IMG_4350If you read YA and like Arthurian legend, even a little bit, The Squire’s Tales series is for you.

It’s a collection of (sometimes loose) retellings of stories from Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, also drawing on other sources like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, with some original characters thrown in.

And they’re a hoot! Morris plays with many of the ironies and paradoxes of the Arthurian world. In The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf he explores the defense of honor and the treatment of ladies.

Pregnancy in Fantasy?

Conflict drives stories.

It’s probably a good thing.

But it seems to mean that the only time a pregnant woman is allowed “on screen” in a story is when the fact of her pregnancy causes conflict.

And I wish we could explore not only the tense and exciting parts of pregnancy (like the reveal and the delivery), but also the invisible, quiet bits.

Strangers couldn’t tell I was pregnant until just about yesterday (I’m 33 weeks along). Not too long ago a nurse at a new-patient visit, after taking my height and weight and blood pressure, was stunned I wasn’t worried that my last period was five months before.

~Three months. Can you spot the fourth person?

~Three months. Can’t spot the fourth person yet, but she’s there.

From week 1 there’s so much going on mentally and emotionally that affects only one girl. Is it enough to make a story out of? Maybe a subplot?

Can anyone point me to some fantasy that fills this gap? (And I do mean fantasy. I recognize there’s a good amount of contemporary fiction with pregnant characters.)

Happy Nesting! I mean, Yarning!