Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “DragonDreamsJen”

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Reviews #90-#96

The past month has been a wild one in our family. My husband’s brother passed away tragically and unexpectedly on the other end of the country, my mother-in-law had emergency surgery here, several close friends went through tragedies of their own, both daughters wrapped up their club volleyball season and I had to travel for work.

Though writing and posting reviews slipped to the side, I never stopped reading.  Through all the challenges of this year, the joys and sorrows, being able to turn to the pages of wonderful books provided the best medicine of all.  Books change our perspective, offer us an escape from hard moments, embrace us in warm comfort , challenge us to be the best we can be and so much more.

Though I am reading my 102nd book of the year right now, determined to at least DOUBLE my Cannonball Read IV Challenge total before 2012 ends,  I invite you to wander by my BookHoardingDragon blog to catch up on any of these belated reviews.

#90 – Heritage of Hastur by Marion Zimmer Bradley

#91 – Their Frontier Family by Lyn Cote

#92 – The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey

#93 – Sea Swept by Nora Roberts

#94 – Rising Tides by Nora Roberts

#95 – Inner Harbour by Nora Roberts

#96 – Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #87 The Rise of Nine by Pittacus Lore

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We bought this book for our family as soon as it was released this fall, but thanks to a terrible round of Rock/Paper/Scissors, I had to wait until my daughters were done reading it before I could add it to my list.

The Rise of Nine is the third book in the now expanded I am Number Four series.  Perhaps in the void left with the end of the Harry Potter and Twilight Series (both books and movies) the temptation to expand the story and thus the profits was too great to stick to the original trilogy format.

Luckily for readers, the author and alien hiding among us Pittacus Lore tells great stories.  The Rise of Nine is no exception.  The story is gripping, thrilling and rushes the reader towards the ending only to leave them wanting more.

To read my comments about the one flaw that bothered me, check out my BookHoardingDragon blog.

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #86 Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

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I knew that I was going to like Ballad.  I hoped I was going to like Ballad.  I was worried about being disappointed by Ballad because it was the second book in a series by Maggie Stiefvater.  Linger, her second book after the brilliant Shiver, left such deep scars of disappointment that it took a book like Insurgent to make me trust that second books could be wonderful.

The first few chapters felt jumpy and a bit disjointed, especially when a third narrative was woven into the story.  I almost put the book away on the bookcase, but then I remembered that I’d felt the same way about Lament at the beginning and I kept reading.

I am so glad that I did!

Ballad is the story of James, the dependable friend and sidekick of Lament’s heroine who stands by her side and helps out, loving her completely even when she falls in love with the Faerie who has been sent to kill her.  By the end of Lament, James comes to understand that Dee will never feel the same way about him that he does about her.

Ballad opens with a strange, unsent text message  as Dee’s narrative, then jumps into the story from James’ point of view.  He is studying at the Thornking-Ash School of Music on a special scholarship, but soon discovers that he is surrounded by more faeries than ever before, especially one who seems almost human.  Will he lose his heart… or lose his life?

Once you get past the slow pace of the first few chapters, the story develops into something so captivating and satisfying that you are loathe to put the book down for mundane things such as eating and sleeping.  The book and its amazing characters race towards one of the most satisfying conclusions I’ve enjoyed in a book in recent memory.

KUDOS to author Maggie Stiefvater for this brilliant and enjoyable tale.  I adored how this second book made the series stronger instead of weaker.  The ending was unexpected, touching and terrific!

Paperback format, 388 pages, Copyright 2009, Scholastic Canada Edition (2012)

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #83 – #85 The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon

There are stories so epic that they change you after the reading of their tales. As a child who grew up with tales of Middle Earth and Narnia, who rolled dice for the first games of Dungeons & Dragons ever released and dreamt of Boldly going when no one had gone before… I have high standards and award 5 stars stingily.  This is one of my 5 star favourites.

The Deed of Paksenarrion is a large “mass market edition” of Elizabeth Moon’s brilliant first fantasy trilogy that gathers up all six hundred thousand words of her original novels in a single volume.  My copy is well loved and growing tattered with each visit, but it remains a truly amazing and original world in which to lose yourself. It reads like the best D&D adventure ever played as it chronicles the adventures of Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter, a tall young girl who runs away from an arranged marriage to a pig farmer in order to learn all she can about becoming a warrior.

Anyone who has ever Larped, RPG’d, rolled dice or dressed up as a character, will find themselves wishing they could be part of this amazing tale, despite the trials and tribulations as the main character and those around her are swept from one adventure to another.  The thrilling saga weaves itself to an astounding and satisfying conclusion with plenty of weaving paths along the way.  You can almost sense Paksenarrion “leveling up” as she gains experience as a mercenary fighter and is eventually claimed by a higher calling.  Elizabeth Moon creates a lush world of kingdoms in peril, mysterious elves, evil plots and tangled loyalties that is both believable and engrossing.  Once you get caught up in the first chapter, you find yourself struggling to put the book down for such mundane things as eating or sleeping.  A few of the stains on my copy are proof that I got so engrossed in this story that the spoon or fork got distracted on its journey to my mouth!

The Deed of Paksenarrion does not shy away from the ugly side of war, the perils of the command chain or the fears that face the helpless.  It does not glorify battle the way some video games seem to either.  Instead, Elizabeth Moon creates a truly outstanding story where battles are marvelous echoes for all of the struggles we humans face in our lives.  The courage and determination, the tenacity and conviction with which some of these vivid characters face their destinies reminds us that humans are capable of great things.  We have only to try instead of running away or taking an easier, darker path.

If you have never read The Deed of Paksenarrion, hunt it down. It MUST be on your book “bucket list”.  I wish I could share your excitement as you read it for the first time.  If you have already discovered how truly unique and amazing this book is, chime in and share what you loved best about it as a comment.

I was thrilled when Moon returned to this timeline in 2010 and created a different set of slightly overlapping adventures that take place after the events in The Deed of Paksenarrion.  It gives me more things to read and review before the end of the year and this challenge!

The Deed of Paksenarrion Paperback format, 1024 pages, published in 1992 by BAEN Fantasy

Originally published as Sheepfarmer’s Daughter ©1988, Divided Allegiance ©1988 and Oath of Gold ©1989

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #79 to 82 Catching Up on Four Reviews

The thing that I have loved about the Cannonball Read Challenge is how aware it has made me of my reading habits and patterns.  Writing reviews when life got hectic around a trade show, volleyball season and some health issues was tricky, but the voracious reader in me kept reading books.  I am now catching up on the reviews on my BookHoaringDragon blog, but I didn’t want to overload readers here.  Keep inspiring me with all your wonderful reviews and adding to my list of things to read before the year comes to a close!

Review #79 Traitor’s Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Review #80 The Alton Gift by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross

Review #81 & #82 The Bridge Across Forever & One by Richard Bach

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #78 The Shadow Matrix by Marion Zimmer Bradley

In Exile’s Song, Margaret Alton returned to the world of her birth, found the love of her life, discovered her hereditary psychic powers knows as laran, defeated a legendary Keeper  and brought  a strange Shadow Matrix back from her adventures in the overworld… permanently bonded into the flesh of her hand.

The Shadow Matrix continues the adventures of Lew Alton’s headstrong daughter and her efforts to find her place in Darkovan society.  Her Federation education and independence had already caused some conservative members of the Comyn council to regard her with distrust, but the fact that she and the Heir to Regis Hastur have fallen in love makes them a very powerful and politically dangerous combination to boot.  Margaret is sent off to learn how to control her powers and Mikhail Lanart-Hastur is sent to examine the unstable, unpredictable offspring of the traditional ruling family.  Both of them end up embroiled in an adventure that will not only change their lives, but potentially change the balance of Power on Darkover forever. Will this put Darkover on an even footing with the Terran Empire?  Will they ever be able to be together or will the other powerful families of Darkover keep them apart?

Read the rest on the BookHoardingDragon’s blog

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #77 Exile’s Song by Marion Zimmer Bradley

After the Sharra Rebellion cost him a hand and the trust of many of the ruling people of Darkover, Lew Alton left his home planet behind.  His return to Darkover, and the other events that take place in Sharra’s Exile, eventually lead Lew to being appointed to the Terran Imperial Senate as his planet’s representative, leaving Darkover behind yet again… this time with his wife Dio and the young daughter he’s only just begun to know.

Exile’s Song begins with Margaret Alton’s return to Darkover as an adult and an assistant to a renowned musicologist from the Federation University planet, sent to study local music.  Her red hair and fluency in the Darkover language make her an asset to her beloved professor, but also mark her as one of the Comyn, the Laran talented ruling families of Darkover that she knows nothing about.  After the sudden death of her mentor, Margaret Alton find herself embroiled in a web of intrigue and local politic, inheritance and latent psychic abilities that could not only change her entire future, it might also cost her her life!

The rest of the review can be read on the BookHoardingDragon ‘s blog…

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #76 Sharra’s Exile by Marion Zimmer Bradley

This was a summer for rediscovering and rereading the Darkover books in my collection.  Thanks to the Internet, I was able to read a great plot summary for The Heritage of Hastur, one of the novels still missing from my collection despite my best attempts to track down a used copy at a reasonable price.  I wanted to remind myself of the basic plot before I moved on to Sharra’s Exile.

Sharra’s Exile covers a pivotal time in the history of Darkover and the planet’s relationship with the Terran Empire.  The books seems to stand as a bridge between Bradley’s earlier Darkover novels, each written as shorter stories about a world that she loved, and the later, thicker novels that went into much more detail about the vast world and intricate society that she’d created. This novel begins the “modern” era of Darkover.  The planet is no longer the isolated, feudal world that grew from the descendants of a lost Terran Colony.  Sharra’s Exile is about a unique world trying to find a way to belong to something bigger than itself, without losing its own identity.  Various players on both sides of the issue plot for Power above all.  When a legendary force resurfaces from an ancient Matrix Weapon, will it be used against the Terrans to drive them out or will it shake apart the very world from which it was born?

The rest of the review can be found on my BookHoardingDragon Blog

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #75 The World Wreckers by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The World Wreckers used to be considered the “last” of the Darkover novels.  Written in 1971, it details the time period after Sharra’s Exile when outside interests hire a covert company to destroy the ecosystem of Darkover.  They hope that if enough damage is caused, both ecological and societal, the planet will appeal to the Terran Empire for help and thus become and open, unprotected world whose resources can be taken advantage of.

Discover why this Darkover novel always gets a 5 star rating from me on my blog.

Haunting used book stores lead to the ultimate temptation and a duplication in order to fill a missing spot in my Darkover collection.  Having found The Spell Sword on its own as a used copy, I discovered the 2002 Daw Omnibus Edition called The Forbidden Circle just a few weeks later, containing both The Spell Sword from 1974 and The Forbidden Tower from 1977 reprinted in one edition.  I broke down and decided that I would rather end up with two versions of The Spell Sword for now rather than miss out on reading one of the missing stories.

Read the full review here

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