Showing posts with label fantasy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fantasy. Show all posts


Book Review: Unnatural Creatures

Unnatural Creatures is a collection of short stories compiled by, and contributed to, by Neil Gaiman and Maria Dahvana Headley. I love everything Neil Gaiman touches, so of course I loved this, but with good reason, not just because I'm a hopeless fangirl. 

The stories are all, perhaps loosely, based around the premise that there is such a place as an Unnatural History Museum that mirrors the great Natural History Museum in London. You'll get a sampling of several potential exhibits including everything from sentient wasps to griffins and werewolves to death personified. My favorite, no shocker here, was Sunbird by Neil; I have a lifelong love affair with anything phoenix-y. I think my second favorite tale would have to be Gabriel-Ernest by Saki. But, honestly, they are all truly fantastic tales.

I would highly recommend getting yourself a copy of the hardcover to own and cherish for years to come. This is a true heirloom collection, in my opinion. And as a nice bonus, all the sales benefit 826DC, "a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students in their creative and expository writing, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write".


Book Review: Fireblood

Fireblood by Jeff Wheeler is a nice new fantasy find for me.

It's the first in a series, and is clearly written as such. This book does not stand alone, so if you're someone who needs instant gratification, I would wait until the rest are available before you pick this one up. Mr. Wheeler does an excellent job of continuing the tradition of Tolkien and his like by crafting a well fleshed out world and telling an epic tale without taking any shortcuts or rushing through a plot. The thoroughness may feel too slow for some; here's a hint: If Lord of the Rings was too slow of a read for you, don't attempt this one.

This book focuses on the formation of an elite expedition by Tyrus of Kenatos. Tyrus intends to defy the Arch Ryke and venture into the Scourgelands to find the source of the recurring plagues that have been a constant source of agony and death over multiple generations. Two of his "recruits" are his alleged niece and nephew who were separated at birth and who have no idea of the other's existence until the events in the book begin taking place.

I'm excited to see where the next installment takes them.



Great Discworld art by nicolsche

I've been discussing my book preferences a lot more lately. Between people asking for recommendations, spending some time wandering Barnes & Noble with my aunt, and starting my new job as a bookseller it seems to be the conversational topic du jour. And trust me when I say that there is nothing like discussing your literary taste with your new bookstore-owning boss to make you want to justify everything you like to read. The truth is I like to read most genres of fiction; even romance may not be all that frequent, but it has been know to appear on my shelves. One genre, though, always has me feeling like an uncouth barbarian in a room full of Victorian matrons: Sci-Fi /Fantasy. 

Science Fiction and Fantasy are two fairly distinct genres that often end up lumped together for the very reason that I love them. To overly simplify the issue, these genres are filled with imaginative factors (from worlds to characters to premises) that do not exist in reality. Whether it's a modern day setting with vampires, werewolves and ghosts traipsing about or a spaceship shaped like tennis shoe soaring to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe these are the books that will truly grab you and take you out of the everyday and transport you beyond the known.

So why do they make me feel so self-conscious about my love? The genres are typically associated with speckly gits* or spotty mouth-breathers with limited social skills whose Saturday nights are spent in someone's basement playing D&D**. You don't typically see a lot of erudite scholars and Times reviewers going on and on about the newest Patricia Briggs novel. I think it's an unfair stereotype. I have read fluffy, fun, not-too-deep sci-fi and fantasy books and I have read ground-shaking novels in these categories; the same can be said for all fiction categories. I feel like sci-fi/fantasy is the country music of the book world. A lot of people actually really like to indulge but few like to openly admit it. 

Well this is me changing that. I love sci-fi books. I have read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy more times than I can remember. I'm currently enjoying a wonderful book called Jam by Yahtzee Croshaw. I also love fantasy. I've read Tolkien's works so many times the books are starting to fall apart; same for my Potter series. I've also really enjoyed several young adult novels about the fairies and ghosts and the whole slew of otherworldly characters over the years. A good book for me is a book I enjoy reading; likewise for you. Read what you want and never feel like you have to justify your books taste, especially not to yourself. 

Long live imagination!

*Please someone get this reference.
**Some of my best friends are these people, I have nothing against this particular "type" of individual.