Review: Still Points North by Leigh Newman

Still Points North
by Leigh Newman
Rating: ***
Read 5/31/2013

An interesting, involving memoir of a chaotic childhood full of dysfunctional adults, disintegrating relationships, strange relatives and the odd bear. The POV is insanely tight, almost claustrophobic. The writing is pure but the feelings are muddy, full of quicksand. The ending came too soon, the story wrapped up in an endearing but still jarring epilogue. My review copy courtesy of ALA Midwinter.


Review: The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

The Drunken Botanist
by Amy Stewart
Rating: ***
Read 06/25/2013
My free review copy came from ALA Midwinter. I was much more impressed with this than with Stewart’s earlier work. The bad part of reading the ARC was that there was no index (this is of course corrected in the published version) and I wanted to flip back and forth more. Lots of fascinating plant trivia here! Worth a look.

Review: The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy

he Color of Rain
by Cori McCarthy
Rating: ****
Read 6/11/2013

Mmmm, science-fictiony whores & pimps. Points for fresh, in other words. Rain is desperate to get off of Earth with its (poorly explained) disease that’s making people “touched” and ships out with the first bad boy she finds. Engrossing but sometimes scary and sometimes hurtful adventures ensue. I never had a lot of doubt that things would come out okay for Rain in the end, but there’s enough collateral damage to not let me say it’s got a happy ending. A worthy debut, and an author I’m looking forward to seeing more of. My free review copy came from ALA Midwinter.

Review: Playing with Fire by Bruce Hale

Playing with Fire
by Bruce Hale
Rating: ***
Read 6/10/2013
Reasonably engaging middle grade book that seems designed to appeal to kids hooked on adventure/spy stuff. Fairly predictable to me, but funny and fresh enough to hold my interest throughout. Spy school with interesting twists. No kissing! My free review copy came from ALA Midwinter.

Review: Fat Angie by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Fat Angie
by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo
Rating: *
Read 6/9/2013

Issue. Issue. Issue. Issue. This book is stuffed full of issues, what my friend Wendy calls “guidance counselor fiction” I think. Our protagonist is fat, unpopular, bullied, abused, maybe gay, has a lousy relationship with her mom, her brother is adopted and abusive, her sister is missing in Iraq. Lots and lots of slang done in what struck me as an obtrusive manner. If our protagonist hasn’t enough issues, no worries! We get secondary characters who include cutters, mean girls, clueless adults. There’s just too much going on here. The plot, when I could dig it out, was engaging enough, and Angie’s growth felt very believable. I wanted to like her, but the author buried her in so many issues it was too hard to care. My free review copy came from ALA Midwinter.

Review: Hild by Nicola Griffith

Hild is a book I’ve been looking forward to with unalloyed anticipation, ever since Griffith mentioned it on her blog a long time ago. I was thrilled to get an early NetGalley copy to read. And then, for awhile, I was floundering. It’s a huge story, populated with a great many characters, many of whom have similar names. Or if not similar, equally unfamiliar to the modern ear. There were a lot of words to puzzle out contextual meanings of (as the glossary in the e-Galley was too complicated to keep flipping back and forth to) and a lot of movements that would have been easier to visualize with a map. All of these things, I think, will be resolved in the final editions.

So I was slow to get into the meat of the story, but I’ve loved Griffith’s past work so much I kept on. About 30% of the way through the book, I was hooked entirely. The characters came alive for me, and I was transported to early England. I could smell the fires (and worse) and the jessamine that Hild and the queen wear. I could hear the sounds of battle and of song.

I fell in love with Hild and with her time. I grew to care deeply about what seemed to me to be happening right now, but really happened hundreds and hundreds of years ago. There are priests of Woden, priests of Christ, alluring slave girls, brave warriors and braver seers. There’s enough botanizing to keep me happy, and sumptuous descriptions of what there was to eat, washed down with mead and small beer. Griffith’s prose can’t be beat.

I can’t wait for the book with maps and genealogy information. 4.5 stars for it as read with no maps, no family trees & a hard-to-access glossary. I will read it again, and no doubt love it more the second time through. I want to read the NEXT Hild book already.

Review: Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh



Love Minus Eighty

by Will McIntosh

Rating: ****

Read 04/05/2013

Wow, this was a wild and engrossing story. The worldbuilding was seamless, the characters strong, and the ending delightful in its ambiguity. At first, I was caught up in the horror of the poor bridesicles’ plight and I had to keep putting the book down and walking away. But as I got further into the book and got to know the characters, I couldn’t put it back down till I found out what happened.

I loved the way McIntosh connected all the threads together in the book, and I really enjoyed the ride. Recommended.

I got this ARC at ALA free.