Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lost Lake - Sarah Addison Allen

LibraryThing Early Reviewers book.

About a year after her husband passed away, one morning, Kate wakes up.    While she’s been out on autopilot, her mother in law has taken the reigns – getting Kate’s daughter Devin into a new school, and packing their house up to sell.     She’s even given Kate a new job in her real estate business.     But Kate’s awake now, and in the detritus of the soon to be sold house, she finds a post card from her great aunt, from Lost Lake.

Kate’s Aunt Eby has owned Lost Lake since the 50s, and Kate spent the best summer of her childhood there – until they left abruptly when Eby and Kate’s mother fought.    On a whim, Kate decides to take Devin there – a last blast before they settle into the new life that Kate’s mother in law has planned for them.  Things have changed in Lost Lake – Eby is ready to sell, but Kate and Devin’s arrival just might change that.

This is a really sweet story about loss, and letting your life go on.    More than just Eby and Kate’s lives are intertwined with the lake – and Eby’s decision to sell helps an entire town understand that nothing is truly lost.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Crescent Beach, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Today's themes: crazy low tide, lots of snow melt, and almost no people.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

It's About Freaking Time!

Why yes, it's April now, and I'm just getting crocus.

This winter has completely sucked.    While we didn't get that much snow (last year's blizzard made that winter worse snowfall-wise), I don't ever remember it being this cold, and I have a working recall of winters here back to the early 80s.    

Thankfully, we seem to have finally turned a corner.    It's been close to 50 all week.   (Never hit 50 in March, which pretty much never happens.)      And never have I been more excited to have rainfall coming.     This is probably the first weekend where we're dealing with a truly spring-receding snowpack.    Thank god.

In the Forests of Serre - Patricia A. McKillip

Read for the Once Upon a Time VIII Reading Challenge.

This ended up being a fortuitous pick for the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge, as this tale owes a great deal to tales from Russian folklore.  

Ferus is the king of Serre, and is a cruel man.    His only son and heir, Ronan, has recently lost his wife and their unborn child.     He’s still heartbroken, but Ferus has already sent for Sidonie, the youngest daughter of the King of Dacia, to be Ronan’s new wife.   

As Ronan travels through the forests of Serre, he encounters the witch Brume (aka Baba Yaga, house with chicken legs and all), and having accidentally killed one of her chickens, she demands that he catch the firebird for her.   (Yet another Russian tale.)     Ronan if forced on this journey as Sidonie approaches through the forest, with a wizard as a guardian. 

In the third Russian folkloric nod, Sidonie’s escort, the wizard Gyre, is a wrapped up in a rather complex tangle with the wizard Unciel, most powerful wizard in Dacia, that harks back to Koschei the Immortal, who keeps his heart in a box, and can only be killed if that heart is found and destroyed.

The main story is still of Ronan and Sidonie – will Ronan be able to love again, and will Sidonie’s presence in Serre save her kingdom from being invaded?     It does sound rather simple, but the intertwining tales make it something deeper.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Hallowed Hunt - Lois McMaster Bujold

Read for the Once Upon a Time VIII Reading Challenge.

This story takes place in the same world as The Curse of Chalion, and Paladin of Souls, two books I adored.     While those books are about one family – the royal family of the kingdom of Chalion, this book is set in another country, which I’m not even sure was ever mentioned in the other two stories.   I’ll admit, I was a little leery, because I’d loved Chalion so much, and I wasn't sure I'd like something different.    

I need to remember that I trust this author.    She actually managed to add more depth to a world with an already amazing system of gods and magic.

The story begins with Lord Ingrey being summoned to investigate the death of Prince Boleso, the youngest son of the Hallowed King.      It becomes immediately apparent that the prince was killed in self defense, for he was clearly trying to take advantage of Lady Ijada, the lady in waiting of his sister, who had stopped by on her way to the capital city.    

Sounds simple, right?    Of course there are complications upon complications, including that Ingrey shares his soul with a wolf, a forbidden practice that was forced upon him.   Because it was not his choice, he’s been able to come to an uneasy truce with the Temple about keeping it.    But now, not only was Prince Boleso trying to rape the Lady Ijada, but he was also trying to take the soul of a leopard, and it passed to her instead of him.     Why was he dabbling in such forbidden magic?

What this means to the people of the Weald, and the dying Hallowed King is a story that just kept twisting and turning, and kept me thoroughly on the edge of my seat.     This is great fantasy – the entire trilogy of worth seeking out.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thomas the Rhymer - Ellen Kushner

Read for the Once Upon a Time VIII Reading Challenge.

Thomas the Rhymer is an old tale, based on a real man in medieval Scotland.      In the old ballads, Thomas meets the Queen of Elfland, and is taken away by her to her realm, where he lives for seven years.    After that, he returns to the mortal world, where he is given the gift of prophecy.

What I really liked about this retelling is that only the time in Elfland is told from Thomas’ point of view.   Before and after that time are told from the points of view of his adoptive parents, and the girl he loves, who later marries him.      It’s a neat little twist, and a good way to see how his time in Elfland has affected him.

It’s also a good historical retelling.   I mean, yes, he does go to Elfland for seven years, but the time in the real world on either side is vivid, and true.    I think it actually makes the journey into Elfland all the more interesting, because there is such a contrast.      It’s a lovely retelling.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Once Upon a Time VIII Reading Challenge - 3/21/14 - 6/21/14
I can't tell you how much I've been looking foward to this reading challenge this year.    It's become a sign of Spring for me, and with the general suckitude of winter this year, I'll admit, I'm really looking forward to anything having to do with Spring.   (Seriously.    I have never done this much garden planning this early.)

Per usual, I'm going to do Quest the First, which is to read at least five books in the challenge categories ( fantasy, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology).    I've been stock piling books all winter in those categories.    I have a pile of 13 next to me on the Tote of Shame, which does not include the book I started yesterday.

I'm so happy it's Spring!