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Title: Dragondrums
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 7/10
# pages: Audiobook
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: Once again Pern was in danger. The air trembled with rumors of deadly Threadfall. And, from within, there was another peril. The restless Oldtimers, who once battled the shimmering Thread, were now banished to the Southern Hold, and breeding rebellion. So the Master Harper dispatched young Piemur southward, dragonback, on a secret mission. Piemur, his great singing career thwarted by the changing voice of youth, was now a drum apprentice, his messages sounding from the heights. The wily lad, vowing to help his beloved Pern, would survive Threadfall, accomplish his task, and return home with, at long last, the little fire lizard of his sun dreams.

Review: I enjoyed this book much more than the first time around. Probably because when I first read it I was so disappointed that it focused on Piemur instead of on Menolly. This time I knew that, so I was prepared to enjoy it for its own right.

However, it did bother me that Piemur's theft of a fire-lizard egg wasn't frowned upon more. It seemed as if all his friends didn't see a problem with it, other than that it caused a stir. Stealing is stealing, and it annoyed me that everybody seems to treat it as "Oh well, the person he stole it from didn't deserve it anyway, so good for him." Anne McCaffrey, I'd expected more of you!

Other than that I enjoyed the book, and am glad I finally moved past my initial disappointment of it, to reread it.

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Title: The Magicians' Guild
Author: Trudi Canavan
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 8/10
# pages: 465
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesirables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work - until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders... and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.

What the Magicians' Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.

Review: Very, very slow to start. So slow in fact, that I considered giving up on it, until I read another review saying that it would pick up after about the first 100 pages. So I stuck it out, and the reviewer was absolutely right. It picked up and became great. I loved the rest of the book, and will definitely try to get my hands on the rest of the series.

Trudi Canavan gets major bonus points for understanding how to write a good first book in a series. The plot is nicely closed off, while still leaving an obvious red thread for the sequels (sort of like Harry Potter - each book (especially the first ones) is self-contained, but Voldemort makes a common thread through all of them). If you're on the lookout for a new fantasy series, I can recommend this one.

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Title: The Jane Austen Book Club
Author: Karen Joy Fowler
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 240
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: Six Californians join to discuss Jane Austen's novels. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her finely sighted eye for the frailties of human behavior and her finely tuned ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships.

Review: Fairly decent book, but a very 'light' read, and though I haven't seen it yet, I'm actually going to be contrary and claim that I believe it's a plot that'll work better as a movie than as a book (similar to "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" where I loved the movie but only thought the book was so-so).

Good entertainment on a plane-ride though, and while it didn't have as much Austen as I would've liked, it had a LOT more than I had feared.

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Title: Spellcoats (De magiske kapper)
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 241
Date read: September, 2008

Review: Despite the fact that Spellcoats is the third book in a series, one can easily read it without knowing about the rest of the series. I did, and for the first several chapters I almost thought a mistake had been made in the naming of the book, because the plot itself in no way gave away that there should have been two previous books in the series.

Turns out there was a good explanation for this. Chronologically this book is the third in the Dalmark quartet, but plot-wise it describes situations that take place in the pre-historic Dalmark, which don't as such have anything to do with the two first books, but which is necessary background knowledge for the fourth.

Tanaqui was taught by her mother and sister how to weave stories into coats, and she is one of the few who understands how to do it well. Spellcoats is told on two coats, which she weaves after she and her siblings were chased away by the people in their village after illness and war made them orphans.

On their dangerous journey on the betwiched River they find both new friends and new enemies.. and not always where they'd most expected to. They are also forced to learn more about themselves and their families - both on good and evil. This is all necessary in order to release the River, and have a chance in the final battle against the immortal Kankredin - a powerful wizard who doesn't blanche at stealing souls even while the body is still alive.

Spellcoats is a classic fantasy tale about a group of children who are forced on a quest by their circumstances - a quest that eventually will show them the way to maturity.

The book ends very abruptly, which seems a bit disconcerting to begin with, but after given the story time to sink in somewhat, it becomes apparent that it really couldn't have ended in any other way... but explaining why would be a shame - you should be allowed to discover it for yourself!

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Title: Bitten
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 9/10
# pages: 448
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: Elena Michaels is your regular twenty-first-century girl: self-assured, smart and fighting fit. She also just happens to be the only female werewolf in the world...

It has some good points. When she walks down a dark alleyway, she's the scary one. But now her Pack - the one she abandoned so that she could live a normal life - are in trouble, and they need her help. Is she willing to risk her life to help the ex-lover who betrayed her by turning her into a werewolf in the first place? And, more to the point, does she have a choice?

Review: Very, very difficult to put down. It's extremely well written, and I ended up forgoing sleep to finish it. It's interesting to see such a different take on werewolves after having read the Twilight series. The werewolves here are a lot darker, and their lives more difficult, but if you'll excuse the expression, it rang more "true" somehow.

Now I'm intrigued, and will be looking after more books by Kelley Armstrong.

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Title: Kejserindens vrede
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 9/10
# pages: 227
Date read: September, 2008

Review: The Wrath of the Empress is the second part of the Danish translation of The Will of the Empress. Here we meet Sandrilene, Trisana, Daja and Briar immediately after the four of them joined forces and helped Sandry escape her would-be kidnappers. She now thinks herself more secure, as she doesn't expect anybody else will be stupid enough to test the abilities of her and her friends, now that they've seen what consequences it might have.

However, Sandry underestimates Empress Berenene's desire to keep four so powerful magicians in her realm, as well as her subjects loyality and almost limitless ambitions to rise in her esteem. An over-eager suitor tries once again to kidnap Sandry and keep her captive until she signs the marriage vows... this time using more drastic methods and therefore causing a more dire effect.

The Will of the Empress is the third series about the magicians Sandry, Briar, Tris and Daja - the two first being "Circle of Magic" and "The Circle Opens". In The Will of the Empress Tamora Pierce once again shows why she has become one of the leading fantasy authors of our time. Like few others she understands how to create a universe and make it both consistent through all her books, as well as so seductive that any reader feels like moving there. The two previous series are aimed at a younger audience, but Tris, Briar, Sandry and Daja are now both older and more experienced after their travels abroad, and the problems they face in The Will of the Empress are therefore of a more mature sort, with issues such as intrigues, love, marriage and sexuality being discussed.

I am still an Alanna-fan at heart, and "The Song of the Lioness" is my favourite series among the works of Tamora Pierce, but because The Will of the Empress is aimed at an older audience than most of her other books, I find it easier to relate to the characters and the situations they find themselves in, and it is therefore a definite number two.

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Title: The Scarlet Spy
Author: Andrea Pickens
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 9/10
# pages: 334
Date read: September, 2008

Review: Sofia feels the loneliness of being the only one of her and her three roommates still staying at Mrs. Merlin's Academy for Select Young Ladies. Why hasn't she received a mission yet? Is she not as qualified as the two others. Sofia is interrupted from these reveries when Lord Lynlsey arrives to the academy, with an assignment more vague, and therefore potentially more dangerous, than any of the others faced.

Disguised as a widowed contessa from Italy, Sofia's task is to infiltrate the Society of Town in order to discover who killed the grandson of Duke Sterling and why... and what other nefarious deeds The Scarlet Knights are guilty of. In order to enter into Society and receive the right invitations, Lord Osborne - a friend of Lord Lynsley who doesn't know about his work for the academy - is asked to take "Contessa Sofia" under his wing and make the proper introductions. However, it doesn't take long for either to realise that there's more to the other than meets the eye, and if Sofia is to survive this mission, she may have to forget that "Merlins always work alone" and trust this man... as well as her feelings for him.

The Scarlet Spy takes the reader back to 18th century England with all the strict rules of the Society of that time, as well as the ever-shadowing threat of Napoleon's advanced towards England and Russia. The atmosphere is consistently depicted and the characters true to their time.

As the third book in the series of the lady spies from Mrs. Merlin's Academy, The Scarlet Spy offers the same tone as the two previous books, and just as eloquently combines the action of a spy novel with the love and intrigue of a regency romance. It is in no way necessary to have any knowledge of the earlier books though, as each one has a different "Merlin" as the main character and references are well explained. While I enjoyed her previous books, there can be no doubt that Andrea Pickens has surpassed herself in The Scarlet Spy. She is now well on her way to becoming the 21st century's Georgette Heyer.

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Title: Demon: a memoir
Author: Tosca Lee
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 8/10
# pages: 311
Date read: September, 2008

Review: I hadn't read many pages of Demon: a memoir before it struck me how much it reminded me of the movie Dogma. Granted, Demon is a lot more respectful, but the two actually have a lot more in common than one would think at a first glance. Dogma shows the story of two angels, banished to earth, telling us how they saw God's love for humans. Demon flips the tale around, but a lot of the details are the same. Clay, a failed author-gone-editor is approached by the demon Lucian who wants to tell his story to Clay so that he can write and publish it. Through the eyes of a fallen angel we're taken through the Bible from before God had even created the earth yet, until just after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Lucian describes passionately the rise and consequent fall of Lucifer and his followers, and the shock of the demons when God created humans, not to take their place, but to be so much more - to be friends of God, to be loved by Him, even when imperfect. The demons couldn't understand such a thing. They were damned for following Lucifer and could never return to Heaven - why didn't God treat humans the same way? Seeing the history of mankind through the eyes of a demon, the unfairness raises the obvious question of why humans and angles/demons were treated so differently, and suddenly we gain a whole new perspective of why Satan hates humans so much - jealousy. Plain and simple. If he can't have eternal life with God, then neither should we.

Demon: a memoir is a fascinating book covering a well-known topic from a new angle. Tosca Lee helps the reader to question things so often taken for granted, so I was left with a new and better understanding of God and His love for us humans.

The book isn't specifically aimed at Christians, and there's next to no "preaching" in it, so the label "Christian fiction" needn't scare any potential readers away. Regardless of faith and religion the description of human nature - for better or worse - will resonate in any reader.

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Title: Loving Your Man Without Losing Your Mind
Author: Susie Davis
Genre: Christian non-fiction
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 183
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: Why is marriage so much harder than anyone ever dared to imagine? And how could the one man that a woman loves most in the world end up becoming the one person that she struggles to live in harmony with? In Loving Your Man Without Losing Your Mind, Susie Davis delivers biblical perspective and practical application intended to open the door for a woman to love her man with an abundance of understanding and grace. Exploring all the biggies where conflict and problems in marriage are concerned, this book also reminds women to remember often why they married their spouse.

Review: Rather disappointing book unfortunately. I'd bought it at a church sale because I thought it sounded interesting, and the few pages I browsed looked interesting. And it is well written, there was just no a lot of it I could use. The three main issues Susie said that all couples fight about are kids (we don't have any yet), money (nope) and in-laws (we don't)... I know to count myself blessed that neither of those topics are problematic issues to us, but it meant there were several chapters that weren't relevant to me at this point in time. She did have a lot of good points too though, but nothing that felt 'new' or that made me feel like I learned something from the book.

It's well written and a quick read though, so if it's already standing on your shelf, go ahead and give it a shot. I just wouldn't spend money on it.

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Title: Dragonsong (Harper's Hall #1)
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 9/10
# pages: Audiobook
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: Menolly loved music and wanted to be a Harper, though her father would not allow it. It was a disgrace for a woman even to think of such a thing. Finally, he forbade Menolly to even sing for fear her ambition would become known. Menolly had no choice but to run away. On her journey she meets a group of fire lizards who bring new adventure, challenge and direction to her life.

Review: I hadn't thought it possible, but it was even better than I remembered it. Last I read it I was so appalled by the unfairness of Menolly's parents that it had made me forget how small a part of the book it actually was. I still found their behaviour despicable, but the charm of the fire lizards and Benden Weir more than made up for it.

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Title: Vindens navn (Prologue - Chapter 47 of "The Name of the Wind")
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 9/10
# pages: 382
Date read: September, 2008

Review: Vindens navn shows fantasy when it's best. In this first book in a thrilling new series, we meet the inn-owner Kote, who knows more about demons and monsters than one would usually expect from a man in his position. One night he saves a man from some of these monsters, and it turns out that this man knows Kote - but under a different name. He's also known as Kvothe - Kvothe the Blodless, Kvothe the Arcane, Kvothe Kingkiller.

Kvothe gained these names after his parents were brutally murdered by so called 'legendary' figures, and he had to take care of himself. First as begger and homeless thief in the city Tarban, and later when he after 3 years struggling finally managed to gain entrance at the university to further his talents.

This is his story.

I found it very difficult to put down this book. Patrick Rothfuss has a way with words that makes the reader feel part of the story. I sat on a chair at the inn, drinking wine and listening to Kvothe's story same as the man he rescued. As most other fantasy heroes, Kvothe is a talented young man who has an immense thirst for knowledge - especially knowledge that will help him answer two nagging questions: why were his parents killed, and who can help him get revenge?

It was fascinating to read about his experiences and the tricks he learns - first among the travelling players his parents led, and since as one of the youngest students ever at the university.

Patrick Rothfuss belongs to the group of authors who dare take their time in setting a scene and painting an atmosphere. Surroundings and people are carefully and detailed described, which gives the book a realistic feel, and makes it almost impossible for the reader to let go of the universe, once the last page is read.

Vindens navn is the translation of the first half of The Name of the Wind. The second half, Dragedræberen is currently being prepared for publishing, and I'm already looking forward to its release, so I can keep up with Kvothe's further experiences.

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Title: Dragonflight
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 8/10
# pages: 287
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise - and take back her stolen birthright.

But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa's world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world...

Review: The first Pern book I've read other than the Harper's Hall trilogy. Good in its own right, but not nearly as good as Dragonsong or Dragonsinger... or perhaps the plots of those just interested me more. It was good to get a bit of the background to those books though.

I rushed to finish the book, but honestly it was good mostly by how it explained things of Harper's Hall. I'm keen to reread them sometime soon now.

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Title: Ashling
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 8/10
# pages: 426
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: Elspeth Gordies adventures continue as she tries to seal an alliance between the secret Misfit community at Obernewtyn and the rebel forces rumored to be hiding in the capital, right under the noses of the dreaded totalitarian Council. Her mission will take her far beyond the borders of the Land, across the sea and into the heart of the mysterious desert, where she discovers that she will need the desert peoples help to fulfill her destiny and save her world.

Review: Really good book, but with a lot of lose threads left hanging for the next book in the series. There were a number of plot-twists and happenings that were left unexplained, so it very obviously led up to the next in the series. And as this is the last of the series available at Danish libraries, it's unlikely I'll get hold of the rest anytime soon. Also the romantic plotline was told rather than shown, and therefore never seemed completely believable to me. That aside, I loved reading about Elspeth's interactions with the Saronians and the gypsies, and if I ever find the rest of the series, I'll definitely want to read them.

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Title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Author: Lisa See
Genre: Cultural
Rating: 9/10
# pages: 301
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu ("women's writing"). Some girls were paired with laotongs, "old sames", in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.

With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become laotongs at the tender age of seven. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Review: Very interesting book. I had a hard time putting it down - not because of the plot as much as because of the characters and the culture and traditions described. I winced when reading of how Lily had her feet tied, but was also fascinated. There was a tad too much foreshadowing, but since it was written like a memoir, that didn't bother me too much.

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Title: The Farseekers
Author: Isobelle Carmody
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 316
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: In this powerful sequel to Obernewtyn, young Elspeth Gordie-possessed of extraordinary mental powers-has united with others Misfits for refuge on the remote mountain keep of Obernewtyn. Yet the threat from the totalitarian Council to their safety is ever present. Their only defense is to work hard to develop their mental powers before an inevitable confrontation. But when Elspeth is lured off the mountain in a dangerous quest to rescue a powerful Misfit, the fate of the Obernewtyn colony will hang in the balance.

Review: While a good sequel, it didn't capture me quite as much as the first book did. However, I find that that's often the case with second books in almost any series... they seem transitional - more like a stepping stone from book 1 to book 3 than as a separate story. I have the feeling that's the case here as well, as a lot of new characters and plot points were introduced but not resolved, so I think that'll happen in the next book.

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Title: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Author: Anthony Bourdain
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 9/10
# pages: 293
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: "There will be horror stories. Heavy drinking, drugs, screwing in the dry-goods area, unappetizing industry-wide practices. Talking about why you probably shouldn't order fish on a Monday, why those who favor well-done get the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel, and why seafood frittata is not a wise brunch selection.... But I'm simply not going to deceive anybody about the life as I've seen it."

Review: Cooking and especially professional gourmet cooking is something I've always found very interesting. I don't know exactly why, seeing as I have no dreams of becoming a chef myself, but it's probably one of the reasons why I liked Ratatouille so much :) I'd heard very mixed reviews of this book, but I was fascinated by it, and loved reading about all the different restaurants Bourdain had worked at, and the varied experiences he's had. However, after reading it I'm more convinced than ever that I should NOT become a chef!

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Title: The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
Author: Patricia McKillip
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: 7/10
# pages: 343
Date read: September, 2008

Summary: Almost destroyed because of a man's fear and greed, Sybel, a beautiful young sorceress, embarks on a quest for revenge that proves equally destructive.

Review: Unfortunately not as good as I'd neither thought nor expected. It was okay, but not as captivating as I'd expected after reading all the glowing reviews it had received. But it may just have been my expectations that were all wrong - I'd expected the 'forgotten beasts' to be the main characters of the book, and they might as well not have been there, so that may have had a lot to do with it.

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Title: Dragonsinger
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 240
Date read: March 2006, September 2008


Pursuing her dream to be a Harper of Pern, Menolly studies under the Masterharper learning that more is required than a facility with music and a clever way with words.

This is one of those books that would have been too short practically no matter how long it was. One of my very favourite books, and one of my introductions to the fantasy genre. I love the atmosphere it describes, and would love to experience some lessons at Harper Hall myself... even though I'd probably be more likely to be one of the clueless girls (although not as cruel I hope) than Menolly.

I love the lyrics that start off each chapter. Usually when books have lyrics or poems as introductions to chapters I just skip them, but here they seem an integral part of the book :)

It's a shame no more books have been written about Menolly's life at Harper Hall. I was so disappointed with Dragondrums, because I wanted to read more about Menolly - not Piemur.

Those of you who've read more Pern - are there any more books about Harper Hall at all?

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