Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Books Read

Witch Hill by Marion Zimmer Bradley
MZB has several witch books. This one is particularly more darkly sexy than usual, but otherwise could be switched out with one of her other witchy books. It could be good fodder for bedroom fantasy, and that's why I liked it some. It seemed to begin with some good old New England satanic witch lore, but didn't go as deeply into that as the promising beginning. Established author calling it in, I suppose. Why not put in a few more sexy scenes and market it as erotica, I would ask.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
If you know this is fantasy of the fairy type, you might guess from the title that it is fantasy of the sexy fairy type, and you would be right. Aislinn has always been able to see fairies, and has always known she must not let fairies know that she can see through their glamour. She seeks out places rife with iron to avoid them, but a particular fairy takes an interest in her who is powerful enough that iron doesn't bother him. Meanwhile her favorite home to be in is the converted train car of her good friend, who she obviously loves but avoids kissing because he's always been a player. Soon she is attracted to both. What will she do? How can she avoid dealing with ancient fairy politics?

I knew what I wanted to have happen, and the author does a good job of keeping that sexual tension going.

Witch Honour by Narelle M Harris
As I read this, I kept wondering if this was the second or third in the series, because the author kept referring to back-story in a way that just filled in the story, like a reminder to the reader, as sequels often do. Nope, it turns out the author had written a longer book, as outlined here, and I wonder if she cut too much. Or I wonder if something about the way she inserts those details isn't as seamless as others I've read, so they hooked my attention as not quite right.

So, this is sort of standard witch fantasy as found on some far away planet. Witches aren't very trusted even when they're good witches, and they draw upon some kind of energy through the earth for their powers. The jester and king's guard need the help of witches to restore their king, and the witches need to battle that enemy anyway, as their mutual nemesis is a witch gone bad. That reminded me a bit of the story of The Tin Man, this past year's scifi channel retelling of The Wizard of Oz. Battle scenes reminded me a bit of The Lord of the Rings, not really my flavor of fantasy.

Catalyst: A Novel of Alien Contact by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Nina Kiriki Hoffman is one of my favorite authors. If you like Octavia Butler or Ursula LeGuin, Hoffman will be an author for you.

This book was categorized as SF, rather than Young Adult at my library, most likely because of the erotic scenes that are a part of the book. This would be one of those secret word-of-mouth books that I'm sure that scifi/fantasy teen readers will hope to stumble across for that very reason.
You get a hint of the sexy stuff to come within the second page: "She looked like his ideal woman, but he never imagined she'd notice him. ...Kaslin figured he could study Histly enough to get her into his dreams without her even seeing him, but he was wrong. ...Kaslin saw Histly and thought, yum. Histly saw Kaslin and thought, prey."

While I liked the book, such promising foreshadows were touched upon later, but didn't get the complete treatment. I kept wondering about the significance of him getting her in his dreams, but never really got an answer. There are some other threads that could have been handled with more depth, and I can only hope that's because this is the "pilot" and there will be more depth later in a sequel or sequels. That is perfectly acceptable to me, so if that happens, I will probably give it 4 stars instead of 3.

So, running from Histly, Kaslin comes upon some aliens that gently hold him captive while they...um...get to know him better. By the end of the book, I am still wondering, are they good or bad aliens. Will there be differing opinions on that depending on the character?

Hoffman plays with boundaries of the body and the self in a very sensual way in all her books. It could be she is playing with genre itself with this one. While her past books have been in the fantasy genre, and this leans over into scifi, this one has a whole lot of that other kind of fantasy. Just imagine being held down while someone feeds you a magical food that tastes like all the best stuff, and having naughty things done to you...

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
I vacillate on how much I like this book. On the one hand it contains a lot of the poetic metaphor that I do tend to like in a book. On the other hand it contains just too much of it, and way too many adjectives and adverbs. In my book group, some loved it, and some couldn't stand it for these very reasons, so it is a book that makes for a good conversation. My description of "too overwrought" got some enthusiastic nods. It was a good story, definitely.

With so much metaphor, there is plenty to talk about if you can get past the loved it/hated it conversation. The book begins with the birth of twins, and a few lies. One of the twins has Downs Syndrome, and the father who is a doctor sees that as a death knell, a crippling factor in his family's future. He sends the baby girl away with his nurse...who keeps her. He tells his drug-addled wife that the baby died. This lie becomes a wall that affects the rest of their lives together.

The nurse also lies, but somehow her lies create a good life for herself and the child. There's a difference there, something to think about. The author leaves it up to us, the readers, to hash that out.

Just a few metaphors: snakes; photography keeping at a distance; roots and growth.

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