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[sticky post] Book Review Master Post

She Wears Hats
List of book reviews, sorted by category.
Unlike physical books which an only sit on one shelf, some book will be on two lists.

Fairy TalesOnce upon a time...Collapse )
FictionIt never happened...Collapse )
HistoryIt really happened...Collapse )
Historical FictionIt might have happened...Collapse )
MysteryWhodunnit?Collapse )
Non FictionIt really happened...Collapse )
SF/FIt'll Never Happen...Collapse )
YAGreat Books Here...Collapse )

updated jan 15 '14

Owl Service by Alan Garner

She Wears Hats
Who decides how you should behave? Your parents, your friends?
What if your Mum decides that her upper-class daughter shouldn't hang out with the Cook's son?
What if the cook decides her son shouldn't talk to the slightly odd handyman?

Who decides how the woman made of flowers should behave, the sorcerer who created her, the man she might love, or her own self?
What happens when the spirit of the flower-woman breaks through the bindings that generations of sorcerers have put on her, and someone dies?

Incidentally, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was written in 1998.
The Owl Service was written in 1967.
The word "Service" does not refer to mail service by owl, it refers to a dinner service (plates) with owl pictures on them.

3 Shorts by Edgar Allen Poe

She Wears Hats
Gotta love those gothic tales.

The Tell-Tale Heart

I love the old man, but his staring eye gives me the creeps. I'll just have to chop him up. And bury the bits under his bed. BUT HIS HEART KEPT BEATING I HEAR IT, I TELL YOU.

Gothic checklist:
Obsessed main character who thinks he's perfectly normal - check. He's not even crazy, he just has super hearing and sometimes hears things other people don't.

Innocent person who has no idea that horror is about to unfold - check. Poor old man.

Ruined building - nope. Perfectly normal setting, but the effect of the moon and wind out the old man's window is delightfully creepy.

The Oval Portrait

A man becomes sick while hiking through the mountains. He finds refuge in a decaying castle. His valet (you know you can never go hiking w/out your valet, right?)sets him up in the smallest bedroom, complete with decaying tapestries, adorned with lovely pictures.

The most beautiful picture has a strange story behind it.

Gothic Checklist:
Ruined building - check. Delightfully creepy place for a sick man to recuperate. Ruined tapestries are just icing on the cake.

Obsessed character who thinks he's perfectly normal - check. How did the long-dead painter not notice that his wife was dying as he painted her?

Innocent person who has no idea that horror is about to unfold - check. But lo and behold! The beautiful wife has been immortalized! She just had to die first.


In a ruined German city, a man lives with his wonderful wife Ligiea. Really, she's wonderful. Three pages of detail on her eyes, her nose, her mouth her skin, her hair, her wisdom, her walk - and another few pages for her to die, all the while fighting, never surrendering her will to Death.

Our Hero wanders to an English abbey - also ruined - and sets up an opium addicted life. He marries a woman who is described in one sentence. Several paragraphs explain how their bedroom has tomb-elements, besides being in a ruined abbey.

Surprise - the 2nd wife dies. And as Our Hero sits up with the body in an opium daze... Ligiea's ghost takes over the body and stands up. Totally not an opium dream! Maybe.

Gothic Checklist:
Ruined building - check. Just in case a ruined city isn't enough, Our Hero has to move into an abandoned abbey.

Obsessed character who thinks he's perfectly normal - check. Our Hero doesn't know Legiea's family name, we don't know his name at all, but of course being in love with your wife is normal, right? RIGHT?

Innocent person who has no idea that horror is about to unfold - check. How the heck Wife #2's family could let her marry an opium addict in a crumbling building is a little nuts, especially with five sarcophagi in the bedroom. Crazy much?

glory in death by JD Robb

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Glory in Death (In Death, #2)Glory in Death by J.D. Robb

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second book in the “… in death” series was written in 1995, almost 20 years ago.  Eve has changed since then, and so has her little band of merry men, er, women.  Still, a lot of themes show up in this book that will continue throughout the series.

Eve is terrified of falling in love.  Whenever Roarke says “I love you,” she needs to run away.  When he brings her  a present, she pitches a fit – how can he buy her something expensive, which she can never repay?  “Gifts are not supposed to make you turn white,” Roarke says, but Eve can’t handle it.
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Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

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Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2)Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wizard Harry Dresden is practically broke, and he’s glad a student is treating him to a steak dinner as a bribe for information.  She shows him a paper with concentric wards, she knows about the one to keep spirits in/out, but what about the other two?   Harry doesn’t think she can handle such complex magic, and he refuses to explain the symbols on her paper.  She walks off, and he’s so upset he can’t even finish his steak.  That’s reasonable enough, a wizard doesn’t like to think of his student torn to pieces by supernatural forces.

Then a cop friend asks him for information about a messily dead body, just like a bunch of messily dead bodies last full moon, and he says “This is too dangerous for you.”  He says this to a cop, who is going to hunt the killer with or without the relevant information he is choosing to withhold from her.  Then a reporter friend asks him for info, and…  Harry says it’s too dangerous.  Because she’s going to pussy out on a great story on his say so, for sure. How does this guy keep his friends?  All three people he talked to that evening walked away angry at him.

The student was female.  I think Harry would have refused a male student at the same level of competence, because it was a very complicated bit of magic, with the likelihood of getting messily dead if there were any mistakes.  (ooh, but she tried it anyhow and oops!  Became messily dead.)  The cop and the reporter were both female.  Would Harry have reacted differently to a male cop or reporter?  Very possible.  I was seriously annoyed at Harry at this point, but messily dead bodies + “Fool Moon” means werewolves are going to show up, so I kept reading.

Harry consults his sort-of friendly demon for info about werewolves, and it’s interesting that there are so many ways of shifting, and so many levels of insanity associated with the various methods.  Also interesting that the demon is extremely interested in being summoned often, because sooner or later the wizard will slip up and become demon-fodder.  Harry isn’t worried about taking risks because he’s confident in his abilities.  He just doesn’t believe anyone else is competent?  What a jerk.

This many bodies, this messily dead, attracts the FBI, to the extreme non-delight of the local cops.  There’s an interesting scene between Harry’s friend Ms. Cop and Ms. FBI, but it doesn’t pass the Bedchel test – Ms. FBI is quick with her gun, but speaks exactly two words: “yes, sir” when her boss tells her to cool down.  (The Bedchel test is passed later, when several werewolves argue about what to do next.  Also Ms. Reporter and the one of the head werewolves have a nice little conversation.)

Since Harry found out that there are various types of werewolves, you just know that there will be various types in the book.  How is Harry going to figure out which are the true culprits?  And what happens when a werewolf is loose in the police station?  People don’t /want/ to believe in magic, even when they see it.  Harry Dresden is a confirmed charlatan – it said so in the newspapers, after all.  What effect does this have on the cop who used to be Harry’s friend, and relied on him for information?

The werewolves believe he’s dangerous, though.  Most of them want to kill him.  One mobster believes Harry is a wizard, and wants to hire him.  Ms. Reporter believe he’s a wizard, and is annoyed that magic messes with electronics, so she gets static on her camera.

The FBI, the cop, the mobster, and assorted wolves eventually meet for a major showdown.  The Big Bad Wolf isn’t the only bad-guy.  Some wolves are on Harry’s side.   And someone is shooting at the good-guys.  Who’s who?  Lots of unexpected twists and turns in this book.

I will look for the next book in this series, but based on some back-story dropped here and there, I don’t want to read any previous books.  And if Harry Dresden continues to be a patronizing jerk, I don’t think I’ll read much more of this series.

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Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

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What does an adrenaline-junkie soldier do upon reaching the top of the promotion ladder, and the next promotion up is a desk job?  Find a new ladder.   Devi wants to join the elite King’s Guard even though she’s barely thirty, and that means finding an active-duty job.  Her boyfriend finds a cursed ship looking for security. While Devi doesn’t believe in curses, she doesn’t believe in coincidence either, and this ship has been attacked more than once on every voyage.
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The ending has an amazing twist which leaves me really glad I found this book late enough that I don’t have to wait long to get my hands on the sequel.

Water Logic by Laurie J. Marks

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Water Logic (Elemental Logic, #3)Water Logic by Laurie J. Marks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Crossing magical borders, seeing the future, and shaking a building apart so that the stones won’t touch each other – it’s all in a day’s work for fire magic, water magic, and earth magic.  Don’t even ask what air magic can do.

In Fire Logic, there were great battles, and Our Team won.  There was plenty of room for nation-wide grand gestures.

In Earth Logic, there was the problem of winning  the war and re-establishing a government  while fighting a civil war.  Complicated, and still room for grand gestures in front of armies.<br><br>In Water Logic, the war is basically won, but not completely.  A few Their Team garrisons are led by people who think the wrong person succeeded the deceased general. They who are willing to fight their own top brass in order to become the top brass, and the way to rally the troops is to denounce the surrender and promise to keep fighting the enemy until they win.

On the other hand, a few of Our Team’s people are really annoyed that the new leader is a half-breed.  They want to  kill everyone on Their Team, including all half-breeds…

Life is complicated, even after winning the war.  And it only gets more complicated when the Fire elemental is attacked by a Water elemental, and thrown two hundred years back in time… <br><br>Watching the characters interact with each other is a lot of fun, since they are all sure they are right.Of Course they're all right. Just about diffrent things.Collapse )

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

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Glitter and GlueGlitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who would you rather hang out with – someone with a glittering personality, or someone who works to glue the family together?  Sure, glitter is more fun, but it won’t stick to the paper without glue.  As a kid, as a teen, Kelly hated the routine her mother insisted on.  She was sure that she would be Glitter like her dad when she grew up, she had it all planned out.  She’d be spontaneous, she’d take her kids for silly walks, she’d do everything like her dad and  nothing like her mom.
Nothing at all...Collapse )

The First Eagle

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The First Eagle (Navajo Mysteries, #13)The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice show of Indian beliefs, a little about life on the reservation, and a missing woman who is (surprise!) actually dead.  The first eagle was a witness to the murder... sort of.

Add a little plague, and you've got some urgency to solving the case.  The plague-solver is a complete jackass, and isn't interested in solving the murder of a single person - its far more important to solve the mystery of the plague, which can kill millions.

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Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith

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Banner of the Damned
I loved the Inda books,and when I saw the Fox banner I picked up the books right away.  There was an all new cast - say what?  Oops, should have read the back cover.  This book takes place 400 years later.

The book opens with Emras, a disgraced scribe, proving she can do a good job,and she is re-instated. She is sent to Princess Lavsa, who is as non-political as a person can be in Colendi, where war has been banned on account of it /totally/ ruins the drape of your clothes.

Lavsa falls in love, has her heart broken, and falls in love again - with a Marlovan prince. Off they all go to a strange new place, where people takes baths one every two weeks instead of twice a day.  Woe unto htem all...

Scribe Emras has been charged with secretly looking for signs of Evil Magic, the kind that Inda fought against 400 years ago, not that anyone believes that Inda was a real person.  Surely he was just a legend...  Emras finds someone to help her with this tricky magic stuff, and doesn't find anything wrong with the little magic in Marlovan.  The politics of paranoia, though are seriously scary.  Emras helps her princess as best she can.

So of course things go drastically wrong, but not in any way that I had expected. Lots of fun!  But the ending...  On a personal level, people have their satisfying endings.  On the epic fantasy level, it stops in middle of the story.  Is there supposed to be a sequel?

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