Category Archives: adventure

tell it slant

In the Forest of Forgetting by Theodora Goss 2007 (284 pgs)

Magical realism at it’s best: witches, flying cities, talking bears and all of it oh-so-real-seeming. Enjoyable author, with an old-world flavor updated by modern fantasy sensibilites.

surely you must be mythtaken

The Ant King and Other Storiesby Benjamin Rosenbaum 2008 (228 pgs)

Wonderful magical stories ranging from the title story featuring a modern day Orpheus and Eurydice wandering through ant tunnels that are possibly hidden in a video game, to the strangest Austen story you’ve ever seen set in a cottage on a precancerous mole, a manor carved into a rotten molar, and the perilous journey in between. My favorite was Start the Clock, where a gang of 9 year olds (who’ve been 9 for 25 years after a virus freezes everyone at the age they were) shop for real estate in Pirateland. But every one of the stories was fun.

a modern prometheus unbound

The Investigation by Stanislaw Lem 1959/transl. 1974 (216 pgs)

Oddest of ducks: reads like a straight-up Scotland Yard police procedural in the vein of Agatha Christie (despite being written by a preeminent Polish science-fiction writer.) But it’s about zombies. Or at least risen corpses.

Instead of dwelling on the macabre, the narrative instead focuses on the lead investigator as he tries to locate what he’s sure is a non-mystical cause for the epidemic of moving dead folks. Despite a strong start, my interest waned towards the end, and the conclusion (or lack thereof) was disappointing.

number one with a silver bullet

Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughan (#4 in the Kitty Norville series) 2008 (326 pgs)

When her mom calls with a cancer scare, werewolf DJ Kitty breaks her banishment from Denver and risks the wrath of her former Alpha to rush to her mom’s side. And then things get complicated. Kitty finds herself smack dab in the middle of not just a werewolf power struggle, but a vampire one as well. Kitty has to figure out who’s pulling the strings; how to keep from becoming anyone’s pawn; and keep herself, her boyfriend, and her family alive in the process.

possession is nine tenths of the law

The Host by Stephenie Meyer 2008 (619 pgs)

When the world’s population gets body-snatched by invading aliens, a few rebel humans are forced into hiding, struggling to remain whole. A newly installed alien named Wanderer finds herself in a body whose former owner hasn’t quite vacated. What should be an effortless takeover instead becomes a battle of wills as Melanie refuses to disappear. At first biding her time, waiting for Melanie to surrender, Wanderer instead finds herself coming to an understanding and eventual affection for the human trapped in her mind. As they share memories and experiences, Wanderer even comes to love those who Melanie loves. Together they break away from the alien occupied civilization to track down Melanie’s loved ones.

I was pleasantly impressed with Meyer’s much more refined and challenging writing. This in no Twilight novel; it surpasses that series in character realism and evolution, its exploration of humankind’s capacity for cruelty and kindness, and the nature of selfhood and emotion. Billed as “the first love triangle involving only two bodies,” what could easily have become a cheesy sci-fi or sappy romance is instead a surprisingly deft exploration of identity and humanity.

visions of ghostlings dance in my head

Touch the Dark by Karen Chance 2006 (307 pgs)

Mediocre vamp novel with a clairvoyant heroine gaining increasing power over the spirit world. The writing is a bit obtuse and meandering. And the author has an annoying tendency to make a vamp out of every historical figure she can think of- throwing Cleopatra, Rasputin, and Jack the Ripper in the same room.

suffering from abandonment issues

The Palace of Dreams by Ismail Kadare 1993- English ed. (205 pgs/read 58)

A low-level clerk in a overly bureaucratic nation sorts and analyses the citizens’ dreams. Interesting premise, but a bit too overly-veiled and metaphorical for me.

Blood Kin by Ceridwen Dovey 2008 (183 pgs/read 41)

A ruler’s personal chef, barber, and portrait painter are imprisoned during a political coup. It never really took off.

The Swimmer by Zsuzsu Bank 2005-English ed. (278 pgs/read 94)
A spacious, introspective novel set in 1950s Hungary. Kata and her younger brother Isti find their lives unalterably changed when their mother abandons the family with no notice. Their father promptly sells the family home and leads them into a rootless existence, traveling from distant relative to distant relative. This is one of those books I’d love to return to. But after chipping away at it for six months, I had to let it go.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer 1961 (255 pgs/read 55)

I thought I’d read this as a child, but it didn’t  seem in the least familiar. And worse, it wasn’t anywhere as compelling as the childhood books I did love.

The River Wife by Jonis Agee 2007 (393 pgs/read 142)

A young pregnant bride, whose husband is often absent on mysterious business, fills her empty nights reading the journals of her husband’s Missouri ancestors.  Fairly interesting at first, especially the woman’s survival after an earthquake leaves her trapped in the family cabin as the river rises nearby. But I lost interest about the point where her baby gets eaten by wild dogs & she suddenly starts up an affair with John James Audubon.

The Outlander by Gil Adamson 2008 (389 pgs/read 20)

On the run, a woman tries to elude her in-laws who blame her for her husband’s murder. Failed to grab me.