Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dead Witch Walking Review

Finally done with work and groceries and have gone through and read all the comments from both reviews, so here is where you go to read my guest dare review of Dead Witch Walking over at The Book Smugglers. For Rachel Morgan fans, there is lots about her over there - reviews of all the books, including White Witch, Black Curse which is not out until later this month, and an interview with Kim Harrison.

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out Ana and Thea's excellent review of Melusine.


Anonymous said...

Kristen, question for you. I've got The Oracle Lips in front of me (mine is #826 :D ). Any stories that stood out for you so far? I just want a suggestion or two to get me started.

You never participated much on the Community MB on wotmania, did you? I've resolved to quit once the closing was announced, and it's been 3 weeks and counting since I've made any posts there. Although I was really itching to say something in the latest abortion thread.

On books. Of the handful of books & authors that I rabidly recommend there's only one left that you haven't read yet. L. Timmel Duchamp. You can put her on your "intimidating" books list, because it is distinctly a serious, adult, political and feminist work, so that you can be eventually surprised what an absorbing and exciting read it is.

Personally, I'm slowing down in my reading, way down, so it's up to you to let me know if you read the next Best Novel Ever.

Anonymous said...

On rabid recommendations. I've got one more in me, for a movie this time. The movie is called The Fall, it has a limited opening in movie theatres (NYC & LA) in May 2008. I saw it 3 times. Directed by Tarsem (his previous works include The Cell and Losing My Religion music video for REM). Visually, it is gorgeous and stunning, filmed in 18 countries over 10 years, using zero CGI. Moving story, excellent acting, immensely likeable lead (that little girl is the cuteness thing ever), it all add up to ~awesomeness~.

Synopsis: an injured stuntman in a 1940's hospital befriends a little girl and tells her a story, incorporating characters from his own life into it, yet we see the story through the girl's imagination. As it unfolds, we learn that the stuntman has ulterior motives for the friendship, and the story takes a darker turn. It's a reminiscent of Pan's Labyrinth, but a lot lighter and brighter and not depressing, maybe crossed with Alice in Wonderland. It's unique and wonderful and beautiful, and why don't they make more movies like that? It's now out on DVD & Blu-Ray.

Here's a trailer:

orannia said...

Thank you Kristen! I have to be honest, now that I've discovered The Fantasy Cafe I think I might keep many pretties to discover :) ...I hope that is OK?

MY verification word is 'thingest' ...

Kristen said...

Anastasia - I have #740. :D After flipping through what I've read so far, I ended up thinking I liked most of the stories pretty well, although I was actually somewhat disappointed in the Wraeththu story (probably mainly because none of the characters we've come to know and love were involved). I'm really intrigued by the intro to the next story in The Oracle Lips although I haven't had a chance to read it yet. It's called "The Deliveress" and is about a young woman thrust into a fantasy world. Instead of adjusting to life rapidly and becoming a heroine, she worries about her contact lenses and the lack of feminine hygiene products.

For ones I have actually read, I especially liked "Sweet Bruising Skin" (a very creepy retelling of "The Princess and Pea"), "Remedy of the Bane", "Candle Magic", "The Rust Islands," and "The Oracle Lips." Most of the stories are beautifully written, dense, with an ambiguous and haunting ending. There are some great opening lines, too. I really liked the first line of the title story.

No, I rarely participated on or read the Community MB. The OF one is the board I usually paid attention to.

I will have to try L. Timmel Duchamp since I've loved all the books you rabidly recommend (although serious, adult, political and feminist doesn't really intimidate me too much - that's more hard science fiction, the ones dealing with society appeal to me a lot as long as they don't sound too dry, at least). Where should I start? With Alanya to Alanya? That one's on my wish list; I think I saw you recommend it before.

Speaking of intimidating books, my goal is to read a hard science fiction book next month. Any recommendations? For ones I already have I was considering A Deepness in the Sky, Spin State or Singularity Sky.

I'll be sure to let you know if I read the Best Novel Ever. The best one I've read lately is Kushiel's Dart.

Kristen said...

Anastasia - Thanks for the movie recommendation! That looks fantastic! I've added it to my Netflix queue.

Orannia - You are very welcome to lurk here! And leave comments and book recommendations if you want. :)

Anonymous said...

Hard sf - are there are any more books you have which are not in your GoodReads piles?

Singularity Sky - I didn't like it, even wrote a scathing review on Amazon. I have issues with Charles Stross. IMO this is an example of ~bad~ hard scifi. It uses tech-speak to clutter and slow down the story instead of painting awesome ideas.

Spin State - I like this one a lot, but it is hard and could be dense, there's a lot packed in. (The loose sequel, Spin Control, was actually an easier read.) Some reviews also remarked that it was too similar to Altered Carbon and not original enough. I didn't agree with that at all, it was just one shared idea, but the rest of it is way different. (I'm not a huge fan of Altered Carbon, there's pretty much a consensus that female readers dislike it, and not b/c it's hard sf or violent or explicit, but of the the pervasive misogyny. On a similar note, avoid Stross's The Glass House.) To conclude, I don't want you to read Spin State and decide you don't like hard sf. Read it later.

Deepness in the Sky - this is the one about the spiders? Too bad, the other book by Vernor Vinge - A Fire Upon the Deep - is much better. Deepness also had non-trivial women issues, and felt a bit claustrophobic to me.

Dipping into your GoodReads pile, there are a few more choices:

In the Ocean of Night by Gregory Benford - I actually haven't read it, but it sounds like it would be really good.

Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon - haven't read this either, but I've read a few other books by Kenyon, and she's a solid hard scifi writer. Plus, this series garnered the highest praise, I think this would be a winner. (I have all 3 of the series in HC on my shelves, saving them for a special craving.)

Titan by John Varley - April's recommendation, right? This is a good choice. (To me, it didn't feel fresh enough because of all the other books exploring "large object with a mysterious world inside" like Clarke's Rama or Bear's Eon or Chalker's Well or ... there've definitely been a few.) Nonetheless, good book. Go with this. But if it's not "hard" enough for you...

Mote in God's Eye - classic Larry Niven, hard sf, spaceships in space, aliens, you got it.

So, hard scifi. Assuming that the science in question is physics/astronomy, some exemplary hard sf novels:

Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward - short, "pure" scifi book - a clean idea, well developed and cleanly executed. Somewhat like Childhood's End in that respect, but much more science-y, and quite neat.

The Time Ships or Vacuum Diagrams by Stephen Baxter - pretty much the king of hard sf. Time Ships is awesome, good story and you learn lots of physics/astronomy along the way. Vacuum Diagrams is structured as short stories/chapters in the history of the universe until its very death, so there's no main cast of characters and it's much more idea-oriented. Yet I found it surprisingly interesting and readable.

Kristen said...

Anastasia - Thanks for your input!

Hm, I might have a few more hard scifi novels around that is not on my goodreads list since I know John has some but most of it probably isn't actually here in our apartment. (I just stopped to look around and nothing struck me as familiar. He's mentioned liking Stephen Baxter to me a few times as well so I wasn't sure if maybe we had one of those books lying around somewhere.)

I didn't enjoy Altered Carbon either. Violence and explicit content don't bother me, but it really seemed overdone to me in that book - it did seem like the ultimate guy fantasy. I liked the idea but didn't particularly care for the execution. In that case I'll probably like Spin State but I'll take your advice and hold off on reading it until I've read more hard sci fi.

Yes, I just looked the description A Deepness in the Sky up and it does mention spider creatures. John has A Fire Upon the Deep somewhere but doesn't know where so at some point we were going to get a new copy. I hadn't yet, though, since he told me I should read that one afterwards because it would mess with my head.

I didn't realize Bright of the Sky or Titan counted as hard science fiction (and yes Titan was April's recommendation - she actually got it for me). Those are some good possibilities then.

The Mote in God's Eye is one I'd like to start with. I'd need to get a new copy, though. John got me a used copy that's falling apart and since it's signed I'd like to preserve it (usually I'm too cheap to buy two copies and just read my signed ones anyway). Still, I should get a reading copy at some point so that's a possibility too.

Dragon's Egg and the Stephen Baxter books sound intriguing as well. I'll have to look them up.

If you think of anything else, let me know!

Did you read anything from The Oracle Lips yet?

Kristen said...

I looked up The Time Ships - that does sound good!