Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Tolkien Collection!

Inspired by Anassa's photos on her blog, Specnology. I've been talking about doing something like this for a while, but she's the inspiration for my actually setting the books out and doing it. The books in the photo are (and yes, I do have a number of duplicates):
  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    One volume edition, illustrated by Alan Lee.
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    One volume, movie cover edition. Not in the picture, taken from storage.
  3. The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Box Set by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The white box set including the Lord of the Rings Readers Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. Still in the shrink wrap.
  4. The Lord of the Rings box set by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The black box set.
  5. The Lord of the Rings
    The BBC Radio Play edition adapted by Brian Sibley. Each of the major characters is done by a different actor, including Ian Holm (Frodo), Peter Woodthorpe (Gollum) and Michael Horden (Gandalf).
  6. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  10. The Annotated Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Annotated by Douglas A. Anderson
    Lovely design with two columns: one for the text and the other for notes, including excerpts from letters, possible inspirations etc. I'm a bit ashamed to admit I have yet to fully read this edition, but it's so full of information that it really is a must have.
  11. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Illustrated by Alan Lee
  12. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Mass market edition.
  13. The Hobbit Graphic Novel
    Not in the photo, taken from storage.
  14. Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Black edition.
  15. Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Illustrated Hardcover edition, with the illustrations being by J.R.R. Tolkien too. Library discard.
  16. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Hardcover, with illustrations from the Rankin-Bass animated movie. The first edition of The Hobbit that I ever read. A bit awkwardly sized, but has a lot of sentimental value.
  17. The Hobbit
    BBC Radio Play edition
  18. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Hardcover, illustrated by Ted Naismith
  19. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  20. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Library discard hardcover
  21. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
    My favourite translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Tolkien seems to have kept the meter and rhyme scheme very well.
  22. Tales from The Perilous Realm b J.R.R. Tolkien
    Made up of Leaf by Niggle, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major. Illustrated by Alan Lee
  23. On Fairy Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson. Included commentary and notes
  24. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien
  25. Tree and Leaf by J.R.R. Tolkien
  26. Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.
  27. The Tolkien Reader by J.R.R. Tolkien
  28. The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  29. The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Audiobook read by Christopher Lee.
  30. Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  31.  The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien (Not pictured)
  32. Tales from the Perilous Realm
    BBC Radio Play edition.
  33. Mr. Bliss by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Lovely slip-cased facsimile edition.
  34. The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien
  35. Smith of Wootton Major by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Verlyn Flieger
  36. Finn and Hengist by J.R.R. Tolkien
  37. The Ancrene Wisse edited by J.R.R. Tolkien (Not in the photo for some reason)
    One expensive book! In some form of Middle English, I think with some latin mixed in. I can't read it at all. Early English Text Society edition.
  38. Bilbo's Last Song by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Illustrated by Pauline Baynes
  39. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays by J.R.R. Tolkien
  40. The Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    Same cover style as the Black box set of the Lord of the Rings.
  41. The Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  42. The Book of Lost Tales One by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  43. The Book of Lost Tales Two by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  44. The Lays of Beleriand by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  45. The Shaping of Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  46. The Lost Road by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  47. The Return of the Shadow by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    The first book covering the draft versions of The Lord of the Rings. Also, the first book in the History Of Middle Earth series that I ever read.
  48. The Treason of Isengard by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    The second book about the Lord of the Rings
  49. The War of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    The third book in the set about the Lord of the Rings.
  50. Sauron Defeated by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    Only part of the book covers the end of the documents about the Lord of the Rings. The rest holds one of my other favourite unfinished stories by Tolkien though: The Notion Club Papers. I think this copy also has some holes punched in the pages  (from the metal bookmark I stopped using as soon as I discovered it was doing that).
  51. Morgoth's Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  52. The War of the Jewels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  53. Peoples of Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    Only one of the History of Middle-Earth books I have in hardcover.
  54. A Middle English Reader and Vocabulary by Kenneth Sisam and J.R.R. Tolkien
    IIRC, Kenneth Sisam was one of Tolkien's tutors.
  55. The Tolkien Family Album by John and Priscilla Tolkien
  56. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter
    Hardcover edition
  57. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter
    With the improved index.
  58. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter
    This is the gold standard biography I believe.
  59. The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter
  60. The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
    Slip-cased set of two volumes: the Chronology and the Reader's Guide. Another jaw-dropper of a set, and one I consider to be a must-have.
  61. The Lord of the Rings Reader's Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
  62. The Art Of The Hobbit by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. Not pictured as it's too new an acquisition. The artwork that J.R.R. Tolkien did for The Hobbit, both during the drafts and for publication gathered together in one place. Beautifully done in a lovely slipcase.
  63. J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist And Illustrator by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
    About Tolkien's own artwork over the years from his childhood on. Stunning, and has insights into Tolkien and his writings as well.
  64. The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth by Robert Foster
  65. The Complete Guide To Middle Earth by Robert Foster
    Not in the picture, dates from university where I was keeping a copy handy for between class editing of my website.
  66. Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth
  67. A Question of Time: Tolkien's Road To Faerie by Verlyn Flieger
  68. Interrupted Music: The Making of Middle-Earth by Verlyn Flieger
  69. Splintered Light: Langage and Logos by Verlyn Flieger
  70. Green Suns And Faerie by Verlyn Flieger. Not pictured as it's too new for this photo.
  71. Meditations on Middle-Earth edited by Karen Haber
    Illustrated by John Howe. A number of authors writing on how Middle-Earth and J.R.R. Tolkien influenced them.
  72. Master of Middle Earth by Paul Koch
  73. A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings by Lin Carter
  74. A Tolkien Compass by Jared Lobdel
  75. Tolkien's Legendarium Essays on The History of Middle-earth (Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy) edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter
    Essays that focus on the History of Middle Earth series. Another expensive book (especially for its size).
  76. The History of The Hobbit: Mr. Baggins by John D. Ratelliff
  77. The History of The Hobbit: Return to Bag-End by John D. Rateliff
  78. The Journeys of Frodo by Barbara Stratchey
    Maps and distances focused on the descriptions given in The Lord of the Rings. Rather a neat book to have, if an awkward size.
  79. Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstaad
  80. Understanding The Lord of the Rings by William Ready
  81. Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall and Edmun Weiner
  82. The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle: Music By Donald Swann and Poems by J.R.R. Tolkien
    This is one that I`d really like to hear some day. I can`t read music, so I don`t fully appreciate the book at all.
  83. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created The Lord of the Rings by Michael Coren
  84. Understanding The Lord Of The Rings: The Best Of Tolkien Criticism Edited by Rose A. Zimbardo and Neil D. Isaacs
  85. J.R.R. Tolkien by Robley Evans
    To be honest I cringe at this book - the errors are glaring.
  86. Tolkien: A Celebration edited by Joseph Pearce
  87. The Battle For Middle-Earth: Tolkien`s Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings by Fleming Rutledge
  88. Middle-Earth: Visions of A Modern Myth by Donato Giancola
    A book of art about Middle-Earth.
  89. The Road To Middle Earth by Tom Shippey
  90. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author Of The Century by Tom Shippey
  91. The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition DVD
  92. The Two Towers Extended Edition DVD
  93. The Return of the King Extended Edition DVD
  94. The Lord of the Rings DVD
    The animated Bashki edition. Interestingly, Peter Woodthorpe does Gollum here too.
  95. J.E.A. Tyler`s Tolkien book
    Not pictured, in storage
  96. Tolkien`s Ring by David Day
    Illustrated by Alan Lee - the most redeeming feature of the book. Not pictured.
  97. The Tolkien Encyclopedia by David Day
    Not pictured - in storage
  98. A-Z of Tolkien by David Day
    Not pictured - in storage
  99. The Gospel According To Tolkien by Ralph Woods
    Not pictured - the newest addition to the collection.
  100. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    Peter Jackson's first movie in his Hobbit trilogy. Blu-Ray format. Not pictured. 
From November 2013 on, any new additions to the list will be made here on the newest version.
And, from May 2016, the display can be found here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

TOR LOTR Reread Links

Over at Tor Books, they've been doing a re-read of the Lord of the Rings, chapter by chapter, with reviews and analysis. There's also some discussion of essays on Tolkien too. This is something that I discovered part-way through last year, but didn't really get into following in too much detail. Now, however, I'm going to have to look into it in detail. This is definitely a link I'm going to be keeping for later reading.

It`s Monday! What Are You Reading? - April 25

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted each week by Sheila over at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books. Thanks for keeping us all on track with our reading each week (Not to mention the reviewing).

Last week I read:
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Fiction, set in 19th century China. An incredibly beautiful, if sad, novel about a girl's life in China. Feels like it could be a memoir, even though it's fiction. I can't recommend this book enough!

I'm currently reading:
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. Fiction, set in France at the beginning of the Revolution. A definite change of pace from both my usual reading and from Michelle Moran's previous books. I'm definitely enjoying the read.

Medieval Households by David Herlihy. Non Fiction about medieval life. I'm not actually sure if I'm really going to be reading this book at this time, but it's one that I've dipped into and it looks interesting.

I'm planning to read:
Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward. Paranormal Romance, the most recent book in the Black Dagger Brother hood series. This one's only on here if I can get a hold of it this week. Otherwise it'll have to wait, but I'd really like to read it. The reviews certainly are whetting my appetite on this book.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Recommended Books - List

Over the last few years, people have regularly recommended books to me, be that in the course of my work at the bookstore, or here on All Booked Up. Oftentimes, I truly mean to at least look into the recommendations that come my way. Hopefully this post will help me in that, by reminding me of the recommendations I've been given. Feel free to add more recommendations in the comments, too.

Given the number of times I've gone to look for a book, but couldn't remember the title when I got to work (nor could I remember which post/comment contained it) I've decided to gather them all together here in a list. Some of these books I've since read or bought, and that will be noted too. As with the Unread Books list, I'm going to be redoing it every year at the beginning of January after this.

Recommended Books:
  1. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (Writing)
  2. Write Away by Elizabeth George (Writing)
  3. Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott (Writing)
  4. Ghost Train To The Eastern Star by Paul Theroux (Travel Literature, India)
  5. Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandana (Fiction?, India)
  6. Devlin Diary (Fiction, Mystery, History)
  7. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Fiction, History, Mystery)
  8. The Tale of Murasaki: A Novel by Liza Dalby (Fiction, History, Japan)
  9. Tale of the Genji (Recommended by at least two people) (Fiction, History, Primary Source, Japan)
  10. The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall (China, History, Fiction)
  11. Across The Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn (Fiction, Fantasy, Japan)
  12. Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura (Fiction, History, Japan)
  13. Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail (Gardening)
  14. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon (Fiction, Teen)
  15. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (Fiction) (Recommended by several people)
  16. Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling (Fiction, Fantasy)
  17. Island Beneath The Sea by Isabel Allende (Fiction)
  18. The October Daye series (Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy)
  19. A Song of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin (Fiction, Fantasy)

Recommended Authors:
  1. Simon Scarrow
  2. Margaret Frazer
  3. Gail Tsukiyama
  4. Anchee Min
  5. Lian Hearn
  6. Jean Plaidy
  7. Sharon Kay Penman (Own two of her books, but have yet to read them)
  8. Jeanie Frost
  9. Rachel Vincent (Own Stray, but have yet to read it)
  10. Kim Harrison
  11. Shannon Hale 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Snow Flower And The Secret Fan - Lisa See

Snow Flower And The Secret Fan
Lisa See
Random House Publishing

The product description:
In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, an “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s written a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on the fan and compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together they endure the agony of footbinding and reflect upon their arranged marriages, their loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace in their friendship, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their relationship suddenly threatens to tear apart.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a captivating journey back to an era of Chinese history that is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful. Now in a deluxe paperback edition complete with an expanded Random House Reader’s Circle guide and an exclusive conversation between Lisa See and her mother, fellow writer Carolyn See, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel is, as the Seattle Times says, “a beautifully drawn portrait of female friendship and power.”
I first read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan last year, after about a dozen people told me I should and absolutely loved it then. On this re-read, partly inspired by the trailer for the upcoming movie, my opinion hasn't changed a bit. I still consider Lisa See's novel to be incredible. It's a book that almost defies words. Despite being fiction, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan feels as though it's opening a window onto another culture - and the author's note at the end of the book just confirms it.

For the most part, the book is comprised of characters and character interactions: Lily, the main character spends most of her life confined within the house, and even more so within the upstairs chambers, which are considered to be the women's territory. And yet, even with the limited settings, the book doesn't feel repetitive at all, and it's certainly not boring. Nor is it confusing, even though Lisa See skips through her character's life quite a bit in order to jump to the various key events in it - childhood, footbinding, marriage, etc.

The way the two girls accept the constraints they live within - and even look forward to them seems almost unbelievable, and yet, within the context of the story they are perfectly understandable. Footbinding, for example. Nowadays such a thing is completely unthinkable. And the rigidity of expectations seems so extreme. There's a ceremony or title for everything it seems. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan serves to remind us all that the way we live now hasn't always been the way for everyone. And as a reminder of how short and dangerous life could be.

What Lily and Snow Flower live through is incredible. The book feels so real that it's almost as though the reader is there too. Of course, that's partly due to the perspective. The whole book is told from the perspective of Lily, so we only know what she knows about the world - and women were discouraged from learning about the outer world of men. That perspective is, I think what makes the misunderstanding that shapes so much of the story so believable. We feel what Lily feels.

Although Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is fairly short, it doesn't feel as though it's missing anything at all. The descriptions are thorough and vivid enough, especially where it concerns the people that Lily is around - her family and her husband's family especially. For all that Snow Flower and the Secret Fan reads as though it's a memoir, and it covers so much, the book is not overly graphic in any way.

This is the kind of book that I find tends to inspire me to go find some non-fiction books about the time and place described, just so I can find out a bit more about the culture. And, I definitely know that I'm going to be re-reading this book again, probably more than once. It's just one of those books where I find that I can pick it up and immediately become immersed in the world Lisa See has created. I loved the read.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday - April 20

"Waiting On" Wednesday is hosted each week over at Breaking the Spine and it's a great way to find upcoming books to read (when they come out) as the meme is all about books we're waiting to see be published. Some weeks there's too many books to choose between for this meme, and others, well my memory's not perfect and I can forget which of my favourite authors have books that are due to be published soon sometimes.

This week, I had to choose between about four books by Mercedes Lackey and the latest book by Sherrilyn Kenyon. The latter won out due to the description, and the fact that the cover is following the standard Dark Hunter style for the latest books (this choice because has still disabled the image-only linking code).

Sherrilyn Kenyon
St Martin's Press
Publishing Date: August 2, 2011

The product description:
Harm no human…
A hired gunslinger, William Jessup Brady lived his life with one foot in the grave. He believed that every life had a price. Until the day when he finally found a reason to live. In one single act of brutal betrayal, he lost everything, including his life. Brought back by a Greek goddess to be one of her Dark-Hunters, he gave his immortal soul for vengeance and swore he’d spend eternity protecting the humans he’d once considered prey.
Orphaned as a toddler, Abigail Yager was taken in by a family of vampires and raised on one belief—Dark-Hunters are the evil who prey on both their people and mankind, and they must all be destroyed. While protecting her adoptive race, she has spent her life eliminating the Dark-Hunters and training for the day when she meeting the man who killed her family: Jess Brady.
A gun in the hand is worth two in the holster…
Jess has been charged with finding and terminating the creature who’s assassinating Dark-Hunters. The last thing he expects to find is a human face behind the killings, but when that face bears a striking resemblance to the one who murdered him centuries ago, he knows something evil is going on. He also knows he’s not the one who killed her parents. But Abigail refuses to believe the truth and is determined to see him dead once and for all.
Brought together by an angry god and chased by ancient enemies out to kill them both, they must find a way to overcome their mutual hatred or watch as one of the darkest of powers rises and kills both the races they’ve sworn to protect.
Even though I have yet to read No Mercy, the last book in the Dark Hunter series, this looks like a book that I'm going to have to read. I'm definitely looking forward to Retribution.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It`s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted each week over at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books each week. It's a great way to keep track of your reading each week, and lots of fun to see what everyone else is reading too.

Last week I read:
Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel. Fiction, the concluding book to the Earth's Children saga about Ayla and Jondalar. This is one long book! But, I found it moved pretty quickly.

Kings of the North by Elizabeth Moon. Fantasy, the sequel to Oath of Fealty. This was my favourite book of the week. I've been waiting for it since the day that the previous book came out.

I'm currently reading:
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Historical fiction, set in nineteenth century China. I've read the book before, and I'm loving it as much on this read as I did last time. Highly, highly recommended!

I'm planning to read:
Madame Tussaud: A novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran.

Land of Painted Caves - Jean M. Auel

Land of Painted Caves
Jean M. Auel
Crown Books
Copyright: March 2011

The product description:
The highly anticipated sixth book of Jean Auel's Earth's Children® series, The Land of Painted Caves, is the culmination fans have been waiting for. Continuing the story of Ayla and Jondalar, Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived more than 25,000 years ago. The Land of Painted Caves is an exquisite achievement by one of the world's most beloved authors. 
Now that's not a lot of description for a book that's over seven hundred pages long. There's a lot in the sixth and final book Jean Auel wrote about Ayla and Jondalar. I've seen a lot of negative reviews of the book, but I'm not seeing what it's all about. Yes, the book is long and there's lots of detail, but for me it worked.

Land of Painted Caves picks up after Shelters of Stone, but I'm not exactly sure how long it's been since Shelters of Stone ended. At any rate, Jonayla, their daughter is a couple of years old (I think). I haven't read Shelters of Stone since it came out about ten years ago, so my memories are quite foggy on the subject to be honest. So, the two have finished their great journey to the Zelandonii in the previous two books. Now, Ayla is learning from Zelandoni the First. A lot of this book is about the interpersonal relations between the two travellers and Jondalar's people. There are a couple of surprising encounters though, but I don't want to risk giving spoilers.

As with the previous books, Land of Painted Caves is richly detailed, and it's very clear that the author has really done her research. I liked getting all the details of how a particular plant (in this case the cattail) can be used, so I enjoyed that part of the reading. Others seem to have found it repetitive. The same thing is true for the painted caves that make up the title of the book. Personally, I'd like to learn more about the cave paintings now and try and figure out/identify all of the caves that are described.

Still, even though I liked the book a lot, I'm not a hundred percent sold on the ending. It worked, but yet again it's "Ayla reveals something new". And, sets things up for a future of conflict. And yet, it's something that needed to be discovered. I really don't want to say more and risk spoilers though.

I realized while reading Land of Painted Caves that I need to reread the other books in the series: Clan of the Cave Bear, Valley of Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, Plains of Passage and Shelters of Stone. I was just too foggy on the details. Now, if I'd just finished reading those, maybe I'd understand the comments about the book being repetitive, because there's a lot of book there. But, I didn't find it so.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kings of the North - Elizabeth Moon

Kings of the North
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey
Copyright: March 22, 2011

The product description:
Elizabeth Moon returns to the fantasy world of the paladin Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter—Paks for short—in this second volume of a new series filled with all the bold imaginative flights, meticulous world-building, realistic military action, and deft characterization that readers have come to expect from this award-winning author. In Kings of the North, Moon is working at the very height of her storytelling powers.

Peace and order have been restored to the kingdoms of Tsaia and Lyonya, thanks to the crowning of two kings: Mikeli of Tsaia and, in Lyonya, Kieri Phelan, a mercenary captain whose royal blood and half-elven heritage are resented by elves and humans alike.

On the surface, all is hope and promise. But underneath, trouble is brewing. Mikeli cannot sit safely on his throne as long as remnants of the evil Verrakaien magelords are at large. Kieri is being hounded to marry and provide the kingdom with an heir—but that is the least of his concerns. A strange rift has developed between him and his grandmother and co-ruler, the immortal elven queen known as the Lady. More problematic is the ex-pirate Alured, who schemes to seize Kieri’s throne for himself—and Mikeli’s, too, while he’s at it. Meanwhile, to the north, the aggressive kingdom of Pargun seems poised to invade. 

Now, as war threatens to erupt from without and within, the two kings are dangerously divided. Old alliances and the bonds of friendship are about to be tested as never before. And a shocking discovery will change everything. 
Kings of the North is the sequel to Oath of Fealty, which came out last March. I honestly have to admit, I was already looking forward to the release of this book the very same day the last book came out. Before I say anything else about the new book, I have to say the same thing holds true for the next book, title unknown for now.

Elizabeth Moon's latest series is set in the same world as The Deed of Paksenarrion, and takes up where that book leaves off. Where that book followed Paksenarrion almost exclusively, the new series has a larger number of viewpoints, including Arcolin, Dorrin and Kieri, although there are a number of others and we learn some very intriguing things about some of the other characters backgrounds.

I've been reading Elizabeth Moon's Paksworld blog for the last year or so, and that was full of tantalizing hints about Kings of the North and future books. I'll gladly say that the various tidbits she's posted there just whetted my appetite for this book. But, when I was reading the book, all those bits just came together wonderfully. Full of "now I know what she was hinting at" bits. And the book itself is incredible. I couldn't put it down at all. Ended up staying up past two or three a.m. several days running so I could finish it.

There's trouble between Kieri and his grandmother, the Lady of the Forest, trouble which has the potential to affect the whole kingdom. Pargun is causing trouble, but is it all intended? or, is there something else going on? Kings of the North has lots of threads running through it from Oath of Fealty, such as the royal regalia, but also a number of new threads too - or not new exactly, but originating from the original book, the Deed of Paksenarrion.

For all there's more than twenty years between the first book and this one, there are some moments where no time seems to have passed at all, such as the "This is a mule" speech from Paksenarrion's training in The Deed of Paksenarrion, and the "This is a crossbow" speech on page 125 of Kings of the North. That just had me cracking up as it was classic Stammel at his best in my opinion.

Definitely a book I'm going to love reading again at some point in the near future, but I'm feeling as though I need to re-read the other books in this world first. Highly recommended! There's a reason Elizabeth Moon is one of my favourite authors. It's because all her books are so well written and captivating, both her science fiction and her fantasy novels. Kings of the North is right up there with all of her others.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday - April 6

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme to spotlight upcoming books that have yet to be published, hosted over at Breaking the Spine. It's fun, if sometimes a challenge to remember which books you're hoping to get your hands on the day they come out.

This is one I'm definitely waiting for, though it's probably in something of a different direction from most choices:
Green Suns And Faerie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien
by Verlyn Flieger
Release Date: July 7th 2011 (according to the website)

The product description:
A major contribution to the growing body of Tolkien scholarship
With the release of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and forthcoming film version of The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien's popularity has never been higher. In Green Suns and Faërie, author Verlyn Flieger, one of world's foremost Tolkien scholars, presents a selection of her best articles--some never before published--on a range of Tolkien topics.
The essays are divided into three distinct sections. The first explores Tolkien's ideas of sub-creation--the making of a Secondary World and its relation to the real world, the second looks at Tolkien's reconfiguration of the medieval story tradition, and the third places his work firmly within the context of the twentieth century and "modernist" literature. With discussions ranging from Tolkien's concepts of the hero to the much-misunderstood nature of Bilbo's last riddle in The Hobbit, Flieger reveals Tolkien as a man of both medieval learning and modern sensibility--one who is deeply engaged with the past and future, the regrets and hopes, the triumphs and tragedies, and above all the profound difficulties and dilemmas of his troubled century.
Taken in their entirety, these essays track a major scholar's deepening understanding of the work of the master of fantasy. Green Suns and Faërie is sure to become a cornerstone of Tolkien scholarship. 
 I've really enjoyed reading her other books on Tolkien and Middle-Earth, namely A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien's Road To Faerie and Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World. Given that, I'm sure that this is going to be another book I'll enjoy. A lot of those topics look to be really interesting, and Verlyn Flieger is noted for her scholarship in the field of Tolkien studies.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - April 4

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted each week over at One Person's Journey Through A World of Books. Thanks Sheila for keeping us all on track with our reading each week.

Last week I read:
River Marked by Patricia Briggs. Fantasy. The latest book in the Mercy Thompson series and a good read, if not my favourite of the series to date.

I'm currently reading:
The Fires of Vesuvius by Mary Beard. Non fiction, history. I've gone back to reading this book a bit thanks to a show I saw on PBS about the destruction of Herculaneum.

Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel. This is the book I'm reading primarily, and I'm really enjoying it although I've forgotten a lot of the details from Shelters of Stone.

I plan to read:
Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward. The 9th book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Both books I'd intended to read last week, Shelters of Stone and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan are buried deep in a storage unit somewhere, so they will just have to wait, as borrowing them will be easier (and probably quicker to do).

Of course, should my local bookstore get Kings of the North in, all plans will be changed. That is the book I really want to read!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

River Marked - Patricia Briggs

River Marked
Patricia Briggs
Ace Books
Copyright: March 2011

The product description:
Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. She's never known any others of her kind. Until now.

An evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River-one that her father's people may know something about. And to have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need their help... 
This is the sixth book in the Mercy Thompson series, following on Silver Borne, and Bone Crossed. This is the book that tells us the most about Mercy's background and her mysterious father, which in some ways was the best part of the whole book. River Marked begins just before Mercedes' marriage to Adam - which goes in typical Mercy Thompson fashion. Patricia Briggs has put in the usual lines that will leave you laughing out loud - they did for me.

And yet, for all that I was looking forward to reading River Marked, for some reason I just couldn't get fully into the story. I was enjoying the read, but I found it all too easy to put down for another book half of the time. I honestly don't know why that was. It didn't drag at all, nor was the story boring. And, I'd love to know what's going to happen next for Mercy.

I did really like the incorporation of native mythology into the story too. What I'd like to know though, is just how closely Patricia Briggs described the region she used as the setting for this book. For the other books it wasn't as burning a question, but I think it would be neat to see how closely the real history of the area is matched to that of the story and museums etc. Not to mention the various pictograms, both mentioned and described. It would be neat to know if those are real. This is the first book in this series that made me wonder those kinds of questions.

Overall, I'm going to say that I liked River Marked, but I don't think it was my favourite of the series to date.

The first book of the Mercy Thompson series is Moon Called, and honestly, with this series, I do recommend starting with book one. Believe me, you won't regret it. The whole series is so good.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Found Another Favourite Author's Blog

This time it's Judith Tarr's LiveJournal account, under the name Life Among The Lipizzans and the username dancinghorse.

Judith Tarr has written a number of books that I've enjoyed reading over the years - most of which pre-date All Booked Up, but the most recent one was Writing Horses: The Fine Art of Getting It Right. Also reviewed here are King and Goddess, and The Eagle's Daughter. Not to mention her short stories in the various Valdemar anthologies.


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