Saturday, November 22, 2014

Brief Reviews Fall 2014 part 2

Lilith Dark and the Beastie TreeLilith Dark is one of the toughest and most adorable monster slayers I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She reminds me of Calvin with a stuffed dinosaur for her Hobbes.  Together they act out elaborate and gruesome fantasies and sometimes they are depicted as Lilith sees them and sometimes the artwork shows that the dinosaur is really stuffed after all.  But thanks to the longer format these fantasies can be much more elaborate and follow a full adventure cycle.  Nothing is what it seems in this world where a cute kitten turns into a monster and a hideous creature ends up being a friend (Spoon, pictured at the left on the cover is actually my favorite character in the comic.)  Lilith of course proves her courage while the babysitter proves clueless and a stinger at the end leaves the truth of the events up in the air in classic fantasy adventure fashion.  While some elements are reminiscent of other stories the comic as a whole stands out.  A treat for those of all ages with a macabre sensibility. Lilith Dark and the Beastie Tree by Charles Dowd: buy it or check it out today!

Second chances: true stories of living with Addison's diseaseI bought this book when someone close to me was diagnosed with Addison's Disease.  I had some basic knowledge of Addison's because our family dog growing up had it but I was still shocked, saddened, and scared when I heard.  As a librarian naturally my first instinct was to research and read everything I could about it.  It was easy enough to find medical facts but I wanted to know what to expect from the future--what living with Addison's looks like after the initial crisis passes.  This book accomplished just that.  Reading the first-hand accounts of 16 very different people not only provided practical advice but helped give me perspective and imagine what the future may now look like.  Hearing from people who had lived with Addison's for decades and found ways to keep doing the things they loved was a great comfort and even reading about the struggles turned them into something concrete that could be planned for and overcome instead of an unnamed lurking fear.  The quality of the writing style varies greatly from chapter to chapter but every story shared something that I found helpful.  I wouldn't recommend this based on literary merit to a casual reader looking for a memoir collection but for those who want to learn more about life with Addison's this is a valuable resource and I'm deeply thankful to Carol McKay for putting it together.  Second Chances: True stories of living with Addison's Disease edited by Carol McKay: buy it

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)I had a few problems with this book.  First of all Cas's cockiness did not win me over.  He acts like a jerk but he believes his actions are completely justified.  Secondly a big deal is made about how Anna is a super powerful ghost and yet she still cowers behind Cas when baddies show up.  Apparently even a practically omnipotent supernatural woman needs a mortal man to protect her when things get scary.  The mortal female love interest at one point complains to her male companion that everyone has some sort of power to fight the ghosts except her and is comforted not by being reassured that she can fight too but by being told she's "the voice of reason." Cas is sometimes compared to Buffy and unsurprisingly he has a low opinion of the iconic, powerful woman and takes it as an insult even when it's meant as a compliment.  Even his mother who is a witch mostly just contributes by washing the special knife and cooking and mixing herbs. It is entirely possible that I am overthinking things but things like this just kept pulling me out of the narrative and prevented me from enjoying it.  Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake: buy it or check it out today!

MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy, #3)"There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too." I was glad I read the third installment of this trilogy so soon after I read the second.  It wrapped things up nicely while bringing up even more interesting questions to ponder.  The theme of storytelling is strong in this installment as the characters are constantly retelling the stories of what they've been through to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and help the survivors learn who they are and where they came from.  Sprinkled throughout the social commentary, various literary styles, and thought-provoking scenes are bursts of humor like the made-up band names: "Luminescent Corpses" and "The Bipolar Albino Hookworms"  if one of these doesn't become a real band name I will be sorely disappointed!  But there's nothing disappointing about this book.  If you haven't read the series start with Oryx and Crake.  MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood: buy it or check it out today!

The Forbidden Library (The Forbidden Library, #1)I found several aspects of this book problematic.  For one thing even for a magical world the internal logic is sketchy at best.  There's one creature for example that is described both in writing and pictures as being like hard tennis balls with long, hard beaks.  They can bounce and roll easily but I'm not sure how--it seems like such long beaks would get in the way.   In this world power is acquired by killing other creatures that then become your minions.  One of said minions points out Alice's hypocrisy in saying that she doesn't want to be mean to her own saying "They’re already your slaves, how much crueler do you need to be" Alice comforts herself by thinking "It wasn’t like slavery, though. Not really. The swarmers didn’t even exist when she didn’t call on them, so it wasn’t like they were waiting around and getting bored. It’s more like...having a dog. One of those clever dogs that can herd sheep and do tricks when you whistle" which misses the point entirely.  This issue is then dropped and Alice continues to use her minions and place them in danger because it's too inconvenient to do otherwise.  Hopefully this will be addressed further in future books but slavery isn't an issue I'd casually mention then drop after coming up with a lame justification.  On top of that the book isn't particularly original or well-written.  There's plenty of stories where books turn out to contain actual magic and the themes of power corrupting and resourceful orphan girls have been well trod.  Even the names are unimaginative from Alice getting lost in the wonderland of the library to the villains Mr. Black and Mr. Wurms.  Having so many of the characters be soulless servants bound to the will of their masters doesn't exactly lend itself to rounded character portraits either.   The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler: buy it or check it out today!

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