Monday, May 28, 2007

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

This sequel to Poison Study was equally readable. Synder is a great storyteller and her writing is vivid and engaging. It was interesting to see what happens to Yelena when she returns to the home she was kidnapped from many years earlier, meets her family and tries to fit in at Magician school.

Unfortunately, my enjoyment of this novel was somewhat marred by Snyder's use of tired, unnecessary fantasy themes - ie, girls/women being captured and raped by bad guys. What the heck is that about? Why do so many fantasy writers feel the need to include rape scenes in stories that could easily stand on their own without them?

Rant over. I was also rolling my eyes somewhat over the surprising number of petty jealousies that the adults in this novel carried around with them. But I guess since this novel is aimed at teens, maybe that's something that age group can relate to?

Regardless, overall I did enjoy this book and will gladly read the third novel in the series when it comes out next year.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Surgeon's Mate by Patrick O'Brian

Captain Aubrey and Dr Maturin are finally on their way home to England, but they are chased by some very determined and menacing privateers as they leave North America. Then a bunch of other stuff happens to them... this book has lots of good Aubrey/Maturin action including stormy seas, the capture of prizes, a shipwreck and a prison escape. Unfortunately the annoying woman who Dr Maturin continues to be obsessed with makes another appearance, and I was really peeved by the ending of this novel which features this annoying woman. Oh well - the story was really good otherwise.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

I read this teen fantasy title on the recommendation of Leila from Bookshelves of Doom, who tends to be bang-on when she raves about a book. In the end I find I agree with pretty much everything she said in her review of Poison Study. The writing style can be a little heavy on the description at times, but Snyder managed to suck me right in from the first chapter and I found the story fascinating. It can be hard to pull off a believable world in a fantasy novel but that's not the case here. The main character, Yelena, and the people she meets are interesting and feel real. The story, about Yelena's reprieve from Death Row in exchange for being a food taster for the commander of the military dictatorship she lives in, was quite interesting and new. The only part I didn't like was when the book suddenly turned into a romance novel about 50 pages before the end. What the f***??? I think the novel would have been perfect without that part, and the only thing that kept me from throwing it across the room at that point was that luckily Snyder did not lose sight of the main, interesting story when she threw in the romance stuff.

Anyway, I'm going to read the sequel so I guess it can't have been all that bad. :-)

The Fortune of War by Patrick O'Brian

This book would have been more aptly titled "The Mis-fortune of War" because more bad stuff happens. Thanks to the war of 1812 inconveniently breaking out while they're trying to get home from their ill-fated voyage on the Leopard, our heroes get captured by the Americans and spend most of this book imprisoned in Boston. Also, the supremely annoying woman who is constantly toying with the affections of Dr Maturin puts in yet another appearance. I wish she would go away, but at least she contributes some tension to this book. Although it takes place on land, the story is quite exciting because there are people trying to kill the sweet doctor and his bumbling Captain. So it's well worth a read.

Next up in this series: The Surgeon's Mate

Desolation Island by Patrick O'Brian

OK, so I was wrong about this book - it's not about Aubrey and Maturin taking a trip to the Galapagos. It's more of a "disaster at sea" type of book where they have the worst possible string of bad luck on their ship, the Leopard, which is destined for Australia with a cargo hold full of convicts - not Captain Aubrey's favourite assignment thus far. Things just keep getting worse and worse from the time they leave shore. First, most of the crew comes down with "gaol-fever" (ie, typhus) and a bunch of them die. Then they get picked on by a Dutch ship that is much bigger, has way more crew and outguns them by a ridiculous amount. And it gets worse, but I don't want to give away the whole story. Let me just say that the horrible-sounding Desolation Island becomes a sort of paradise to them when they finally reach it.

This is much more the type of stuff I want out of this series - most of the action takes place at sea! Never mind complicated schemes to recapture islands from the French.