27 February 2011


Here is my review of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight, as part of Caroline's reading challenge. Hop on over to her blog, Portrait of a Woman for more info.

Dragonflight (The first chronicle of Pern)
Author: Anne McCaffrey
UK Publisher: Corgi
UK Release date: 1968
Genre: Fantasy

Summary (from Goodreads): To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright. But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . . .

Review: In a land, where once dragons and their riders were revered and respected above all, the old songs and faith in dragonriders has now diminished. Dragons are near to extinction, and the red star in the sky forewarns of a danger - Threads, which will destroy all life on their planet. Lessa, a young kitchen drudge, has been living only to gain revenge  of the man who killed her family, but when the search for a weyrwoman brings F'lor to her hold he discovers she may be worthy of riding a queen dragon.

"To forestall the incursions of the dreadful Threads, the Pernese, with the ingenuity of their forgotten Terran forebears, developed a highly specialised variety of a life-form indigenous to their adopted planet. Such humans as had a high empathy rating and some innate telepathic ability were trained to use and preserve this unusual animal whose ability to teleport was of great value in the fierce struggle to keep Pern bare of Threads."

To start the plot is slow to develop, trying to build up the many aspects of this planet and the dragon-lore. Through the course of the book the plot accelerates dramatically so that things come much faster towards the end. There is also a great twist in the plot that certainly makes the story a much more interesting read.

Although the characters including their dragons aren't developed enough, there is contrast and interplay between F'lor's leadership qualities and hidden sensitivity and Lessa's determined stubbornness. You do see their relationship develop with them becoming more caring of each other, but this would benefit from more emotional insight. Due to the bonding between dragon and rider they can telepathically communicate with each other, which adds an interesting layer of dialogue. These relationships are the most interesting as they are relaxed and intimate, and I particularly enjoyed the dragon Mnementh's character and witty retorts which added humour. 

The book certainly touches on issues of control, sex and gender. However, they aren't touched on in a sensitive way. For example, as Lessa's and F'lor's dragons mate there is an instinct and tradition for they themselves to mate. F'lor sees the sex they share more as 'rape', however we never hear Lessa's views on their sexual encounters. Whilst I don't necessarily have a problem with their relationship which may or may not be abusive, I feel the story lacks empathy or understanding of feeling that could be so easily explored. We do not know how Lessa feels about these encounters and having to deal with her first sexual partner being thrust upon her. Some consideration has to be given to the fact it was written in the 1960s when gender issues were very different, however the story lacks a vital character perspective by not showing us Lessa's feelings on this topic.

The great part of the story is its science fiction aspects including being able to teleport with your dragon. Other events happen, which I won't detail as I don't want to spoil the plot, but add a real interest and extra dimension to the story. This works much better than the intended 'danger' of the Threads, which don't have a real sense of urgency to them even though they could turn the vegetation to wasteland.

I wouldn't want anyone to be put of by my review, which perhaps seems more negative than intended. Whilst I was initially confused by the setting and the concept of threads, there are events later in the plot that are very unexpected, really interesting, and keep you hooked. Perhaps down to 'first book' issues, I would certainly read on to see how the  characters and plot develops.

Rating: 3.5*

25 February 2011


The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy For Books, and this week's question comes from Jen B. at I Read Banned Books:


When I started my blog, I didn't realise just how big book blogging was. I was also intending to blog more about my own writing, which has now got a bit sidetracked and put on hold with all my work stress. I don't think my blog name is as striking as I would like, but at least it can cover book writing or reading, depending on how I evolve! Besides, I'm not sure what else I would call my blog!

Would you change the name of your blog?

23 February 2011


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating. 

The reason I've picked the following book is because I like good old witch stories. That sounds random, but anyway here's my choice...

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Published by: Dial
Release date: 17th March 2011
Genre: Fantasy, YA

Summary (from Goodreads):

Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.
Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

20 February 2011


The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1)
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
UK Publisher: Gollancz
UK release date: 2007
Genre: Fantasy

Summary (from Amazon): 'I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me'.

Review: The Name of the Wind is the first day of three in which Kvothe recalls his life story. A legendary figure, tales of him are told across the lands.

"My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as 'Quothe'. Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to.
The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it's spoken, can mean 'The Flame', 'The Thunder', or 'The Broken Tree'."

At the start of the story, however, we find him settled in a backwater village posing as Kote, an innkeeper. As his few regulars tell stories of the Chandrian, one returns bloodied and cut, carrying a dead spider like creature known as scrael. Whilst out hunting for more of its kind, Kote meets Chronicler, a famous storyteller. He is later persuaded to recollect his life story starting in his childhood where he sees an Arcanist do magic by naming the wind, and follows the events that lead him to encounter the Chandrian, fight for survival in Tarbean, and then go on to study at university and learn sympathy (otherwise known as magic).

The start of the story is steeped in mystery. If the stories about him are true then what happened to Kvothe that would make him go from legend to unknown. What exactly are the scrael? And who are the Chandrian: are they real, are they demons, or something else? Whilst we learn a little about the Chandrian through Kvothe’s determined search for information, the mystery of the scrael remains unexplained.

Whilst the story is very plot driven, detailing a large portion of Kvothe’s childhood and adolescence, the character development isn’t as strong. With Kvothe telling his own story from his perspective, the other characters are lacking in any real depth. Again mystery surrounds Denna, a wild and flighty young woman that Kvothe falls in love with. Even Bast, who we learn is not human, we still know very little of. 

I love maps that accompany books, however the one featured with this novel adds little to help understand the events that happen. I really hope that as the story progresses and develops in the following books, the map will help give a real spatial benefit.

I couldn't write a review of this book without mentioning Patrick Rothfuss' magical way with words. His writing style creates fluid flowing plot as well as imaginative and poignant descriptions. The novel is also filled with rhymes and other stories, to relate fairytales, myths and historical events. Through this we gradually learn more about powerful rulers of times-gone, the Chandrian, and the power of magic. 

The Name of the Wind was an enjoyable, gripping read, although it did feel like a conquest reaching the end of this mammoth book. Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel is steeped in mythology and magic. This first installment sets the groundwork for the other books, and certainly leaves you waiting to find out what else happened to Kvothe in his younger years and what might happen with the scrael.

Rating: 4*

19 February 2011


The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy For Books, and this week's question comes from Jessica at A Great Read...


Hmm, this is a tough question because I always think the book is better than its film version. And it also depends on the director's interpretation and style. But, to give an answer I think I would like to see the Felix Castor series by Mike Carey, but not as a film as a TV series. Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist, whose best friend is possessed by a demon. Based in London the books are very fast paced, with lots of supernatural action, mystery and suspense. I think the series would work really well on screen.

What book would you like to see on screen?

17 February 2011


Firstly, I thought I'd highlight an exhibition on at London's British Library, called Evolving English, which is free and running until 3rd April 2011. My tutor at the London School of Publishing has mentioned it several times, so thought I would pass it on. Here's the blurb:

In this ground-breaking exhibition, the roots of Old English, slang dictionaries, medieval manuscripts, advertisements and newspapers from around the world come together - alongside everyday texts and dialect sound recordings. Follow the social, cultural and historical influences on the English language... and see how it’s still evolving today.

Secondly, I just wanted to ramble on about a few random things, so apologies! .... I have finally finished Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It's taken me a full two weeks solid to finish it. Purely because it is so long, with teeny tiny letters!

I've now got really behind on other books, reviews and articles I should be writing. Thankfully I have next week off work, so I can refocus myself and hopefully get some work done.... by which I mean, do some work that isn't my job work!

So I was wondering, have you ever been defeated by a book that you just couldn't finish?

16 February 2011


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating. I'm being greedy this week, and have two books I'm waiting to be released...

The Wise Man's Fear (Kingkiller Chronicle #2) by Patrick Rothfuss

Published by:  Gollancz
Release date: 1st March 2011
Genre: Fantasy
Summary (from Goodreads):

"There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man." 
An escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe discovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King's road. 
All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived. Under her tutelage, Kvothe learns much about true magic and the ways of women. 
In The Wise Man's Fear Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

The Unremembered (Vault of Heaven #1) by Peter Orullian

Published by:  Tor Books
Release date: 12th April 2011
Genre: Fantasy
Summary (from Goodreads):

The gods, makers of worlds, seek to create balance—between matter and energy; and between mortals who strive toward the transcendent, and the natural perils they must tame or overcome. But one of the gods fashions a world filled with hellish creatures far too powerful to allow balance; he is condemned to live for eternity with his most hateful creations in that world’s distant Bourne, restrained by a magical veil kept vital by the power of song. 
Millennia pass, awareness of the hidden danger fades to legend, and both song and veil weaken. And the most remote cities are laid waste by fell, nightmarish troops escaped from the Bourne. Some people dismiss the attacks as mere rumor. Instead of standing against the real threat, they persecute those with the knowledge, magic and power to fight these abominations, denying the inevitability of war and annihilation. And the evil from the Bourne swells…. 
The troubles of the world seem far from the Hollows where Tahn Junell struggles to remember his lost childhood and to understand words he feels compelled to utter each time he draws his bow. Trouble arrives when two strangers—an enigmatic man wearing the sigil of the feared Order of Sheason and a beautiful woman of the legendary Far—come, to take Tahn, his sister and his two best friends on a dangerous, secret journey. 
Tahn knows neither why nor where they will go. He knows only that terrible forces have been unleashed upon mankind and he has been called to stand up and face that which most daunts him—his own forgotten secrets and the darkness that would destroy him and his world.

12 February 2011


The Ranting Dragon have come up with a list of Top 10 Fantasy Authors to watch out for. The following has been taken from their website, so follow the link to get their full article.

1. Sam Sykes
Our top spot goes to Sam Sykes, the man best known for his debut novel Tome of the Undergates.

2. Patrick Rothfuss
The man. The legend. The beard. Rothfuss exploded on the fantasy scene in 2007 with his debut novel The Name of the Wind. He has a way with words and humor that keeps you reading.

3. N.K. Jemisin
We loved both her novels, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms. Even if you haven’t had the chance to read them, you won’t be able to deny the intelligence of N.K. Jemisin after you read some of her blog posts. Jemisin often provokes her readers to think about issues in a new way, and her blog doesn’t center only on fantasy and the craft of writing.

4. Mark Charan Newton
Newton is not simply a young fantasy author. He knows both sides of the business, starting as a young editor for an imprint called Black Flame and then going on to help create Solaris before selling it in 2009, the year his popular novel Nights of Villjamur was published. 

5. Peter V. Brett
Peter V. Brett is famously known for writing his debut novel The Warded Man on his mobile phone while commuting on the subway in New York City. 

6. Kameron Hurley
If you’ve read our website at all, you can safely assume that we think that Hurley’s debut novel, God’s War, is awesome. And by proxy, that the woman herself is awesome.

7. Blake Charlton
Being an author of fantasy is usually interesting enough for us, but between his writing career and medical school obligations, Charlton has, without a doubt, the most interesting life of the authors in this list. Best known for his epic novel Spellwright, Charlton has much to say on many topics, including writing with dyslexia. 

8. Catherynne M. Valente
Valente is known for her poetic prose, refreshing voice, and incredible imagination. She’s also quite opinionated, intelligent and ambitious with her works. Not only does she write novels and short stories, she’s also an esteemed poet. Her latest novel Palimpsest was nominated for the Hugo in 2010. If you’re looking for an author who will expand your mind, challenge your ideas, and say what she thinks, you have to follow Valente.

9. Mary Robinette Kowal
Regardless of whether you have heard of Mary Robinette Kowal, know that she’s a fantasy world veteran who served as secretary and then vice-president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She’s also written numerous short stories and her debut novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, has been described as a Jane Austen novel with magic.

10. Peter Orullian
Peter Orullian is the new kid on the block. His epic debut, The Unremembered, will be released in April.

9 February 2011


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that highlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating. 

The reason I've picked the following book stems back to my love of Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew stories. I love mysteries especially ones that revolve around strange old houses. As a child I lived in a big house right next to some woods, and spent hours scampering off through the thick brambles to investigate strange little ruins and paths hidden nearby. There's something inexplicable about old houses and the secrets they hold, that just captures my interest and imagination, so I can't wait for this one...

The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar

Published by: Candlewick Press (USA)
US release date: 22nd February 2011
Genre: YA
Summary (from Goodreads):

Laura Horton is different. Not in any noticeable, first-glance kind of way; but inside, she’s equally uncomfortable around the snippy girls in her class and the strange boy, Leon, who just moved in nearby. She’d rather be writing or drawing or spending time with her free-spirited family in their eccentric old house. But Laura and Leon are more alike than they first realize. They’re both outsiders. They both have secrets. And try as she might to avoid him, Laura finds herself drawn to Leon’s quiet boldness as surely as she is driven to find out more about her home’s enigmatic former owner. Together they probe the mysteries of the Visconti House, making an exploration into the past that will change their lives -- and open their hearts -- forever. Two lonely teens forge an unexpected bond-- and a first romance-- as they unravel a mystery hidden inside the walls of an old estate.

7 February 2011


Last week was my first week on a 10-week Editorial and Proofreading course, right in the heart of London's Notting Hill. In case you didn't know, I would quite like to work in publishing, particularly in the editorial team of a book publishers that has fantasy authors on its list! I've been doing lots of research into the area, and hopefully will be able to get some work experience before summer at a publishing house here in London.

I was a bit nervous arriving at the course last week because proofreading and copy-editing is quite new to me, but it seemed that most people on the course weren't working in publishing either. Obviously it's a popular (and competitive) career area especially with women, as most of us on the course are young women. Thankfully everyone seems really friendly, and the course tutor is very approachable and funny.

Tonight, we learnt copy-editing marks and about house styles. Every week we will have homework to do, and on the last session we will have to sit an exam. Hopefully I'll do well and won't find it to complicated!

Hopefully I'll also get to contribute to Fantasy-Faction, a website dedicated to fantasy and sci-fi books and authors. Which would be really cool :)

What job would you love to have? Or do you already have the perfect job?

4 February 2011


This week's question for the Book Blogger Hop, as hosted by Crazy For Books is:


Right now I'm about a quarter way through The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss. When I was in the bookshop last weekend I wanted a fantasy book to read and was stood for ages trying to pick one out. Needless to say my boyfriend got fairly cheesed off waiting for me to pick a book. Eventually I picked out this wind, because it didn't have a heavy 'war' feel to it.

The added bonus is that without realising I picked up Fantasy Faction's chosen book to read for their February book club. Which means that on their forums I can join in discussions on the book.

What are you reading?

1 February 2011


The Light Fantastic
Author: Terry Pratchett
UK Publisher: Corgi
UK Release date: 1986
Genre: Fantasy
Summary (from Goodreads): In The Light Fantastic only one individual can save the world from a disastrous collision. Unfortunately, the hero happens to be the singularly inept wizard Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the world...

Review: After reality adjusts itself to keep Rincewind and Twoflower on the disc, we continue to watch the mis-adventures of the pair, along with the forever following Luggage. These include travelling with a toothless hero, rescuing a sacrificial maiden and visiting the house of Death himself. All the while, Great A'Tuin [the turtle travelling through space whilst carrying four elephants on its back, who in turn carry the disc] is on a collision course with a mysterious red star.

If you read The Colour of Magic in which you are left with a real cliffhanger at the end, you can't help but want to read The Light Fantastic to find out what happens next. And it doesn't let you down. The story is overflowing with action as well as Pratchett's offbeat sense of humour and wit.

The pace of the book is fast and without chapters to slow you down, you go from adventure to the next in no time at all. Some of these adventures are completely unexpected and very usual; you almost forget the overarching plot line because you can't help but get drawn into each new event. But for any little annoyances, these are outweighed by Pratchett's ability to create such a detailed and convincing world that it sucks you in completely.

I absolutely love the Luggage - it's menacing, mysterious but extremely loyal. It follows Twoflower anywhere and everywhere, protecting him from attackers by eating them, whilst always have a clean pair of socks ready if needed. The interplay between Twoflower and Rincewind is still full of wit, banter, and a certain fondness for each other. The addition of Cohen the Barbarian adds to the story - despite being rather old and toothless, his character adds in a comedic fighting bravado that certainly balances out the fearful Rincewind and the enthusiastic Twoflower.

I would thoroughly recommend that you read The Colour of Magic before reading this one, as there is a lot of vital information and plot to catch on up otherwise. But they are both well worth a read.

Rating: 4