Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No Sailing Waits and Other Ferry Tales - Adrian Raeside

No Sailing Waits and Other Ferry Tales: 30 Years of BC Ferries Cartoons
Adrian Raeside
Harbour Publishing
Copyright Date: April 11, 2012

The product description:
As a part of our provincial highway system and a lifeline for coastal communities, BC Ferries plays an integral part in British Columbians lives. This is especially true for cartoonist Adrian Raeside, who has been drawing cartoons portraying the ferry fleet for over thirty years. From breakdowns, groundings, the Fast Ferry Fiasco, the Sunshine Breakfast, German-built ferries, the Million Dollar Man (David Hahn) and fuel surcharges, Raeside has covered it all in his unique style. The best of these hilarious and sometimes poignant cartoons are for the first time compiled into a book, a unique chronicle of our ferry fleet and a must-read for anyone who has ever endured a two-sailing wait at a ferry terminal.
One of the books I re-read over the weekend was this one, and a funnier read I haven't had in a long time. My original review was from two years ago, August 2012.

I'm using BC Ferries a lot more these days, so some of the issues really resonate still. Others are slightly more dated, and one in particular was very touching: his honoring of the two who died in the ferry sinking a couple of years back. Very poignant and special.

Otherwise, every single page left me laughing. If you know the BC Ferry system you'll recognize at least some of these issues: the Sunshine Breakfast - a regular appearance in this book, sailing waits (the two sailing wait mentioned above is nothing compared to one I had a couple of years ago, where we were stuck for two sailings outside the terminal, and then another sailing or so inside, before we finally were able to get on the last sailing of the day), Ferry fares - always going up, and strikes.

As I've said before, I'd be very surprised to find Adrian Raeside's No Sailing Waits and Other Ferry Tales in the BC Ferries gift store. The cartoons aren't very flattering to BC Ferries. On the other hand, editorial cartoons are usually pretty critical of whatever they're about - that's half the point.

Probably more of a local interest book, but one of the funniest I've read in a while.

Fortune's Fool - Mercedes Lackey

Fortune's Fool - Mercedes Lackey
Fortune's Fool
Mercedes Lackey
Luna Books
Copyright: 2008

The blurb:
 The seventh daughter of the Sea King, Ekaterina is more than a pampered princess-she's also the family spy. Which makes her the perfect emissary to check out interesting happenings in the neighboring kingdom…and nothing interests her more than Sasha, the seventh son of the king of Belrus. Ekaterina suspects he's far from the fool people think him. But before she can find out what lies beneath his facade, she is kidnapped!

Trapped in a castle at the mercy of a possessive Jinn, Ekaterina knows her chances of being found are slim. Now fortune, a fool and a paper bird are the only things she can count on-along with her own clever mind and intrepid heart.…
It's been a while since I read Fortune's Fool, but I was inspired to do a re-read by the previous book I read, Firebird, also by Mercedes Lackey. The two books have different takes on some of the same themes, namely their treatment of the seventh son and the role of the fool, something I found of interest on this read.

In Firebird, Ilya, the seventh son in question is genuinely despised by his family, while in Fortune's Fool, Sasha and his family are filling roles and working to use the Tradition to their own advantage, so while outwardly his treatment is similar, in private he's genuinely cared for by his family.

Both the similarities and the differences make these two stories intriguing to read back-to-back. They're both based on fairy-tales, though different tales (more or less), and using similar character types, even with the same expectations (the happy ending), and yet they're very different.

Fortune's Fool is part of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, which is introduced in The Fairy Godmother. However, this is a series where each book also stands alone quite well as the rules of the world are explained again in each book. Not to mention that in each book, there's an entirely new set of main characters, although some of the characters from the earlier books might make a cameo appearance or two.

The basic explanation for the world of the Five Hundred Kingdoms is that it's one where all the fairy-tales are real. Cinderella? It's happened - enough times that it's now a Traditional path for a step-daughter. Rapunzel? Sleeping Beauty? The same is true of those tales too. Thing is, the stories aren't guaranteed a happy ending. In fact, more often than not it seems that the stories will have a bad ending for the participants. That's what the fairy godmothers are there for; to try and re-direct these Traditions to happy endings. But, there are plenty of Kingdoms where there is no Fairy Godmother. In some of those, they've come up with other methods, as in Fortune's Fool.

Mercedes Lackey has been using the Tradition to come up with some very interesting twists to add to some fairly famous fairy-tales in this series. If you're interested in fairy-tale retellings, this is a series I definitely recommend. It's one I turn to when I want a nice, quick, fairly light read.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Firebird - Mercedes Lackey

Firebird - Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey
Tor Books
Copyright: 2008

The product description:
Ilya, son of a Russian prince, is largely ignored by his father and tormented by his larger, older brothers.  His only friends are three old people: a priest, a magician, and a woman who toils in the palace dairy.  From them Ilya learns faith, a smattering of magic, and the power of love--all of which he will need desperately, for his life is about to be turned upside-down.

            The prince’s magnificent cherry orchard is visited at midnight by the legendary Firebird, whose wings are made of flame.  Ilya's brothers’ attempts capture the magical creature fail.  When Ilya tries to catch the Firebird, he sees her as a beautiful woman and earns a magical gift:  the speech of animals. 

            Banished, the young man journeys through a fantastical Russia full of magical mazes, enchanted creatures, and untold dangers.  As happens in the best fairy tales, Ilya falls in love with an enchanted princess, but to win her freedom will be no easy task.
I read and reviewed Firebird back in 2010, but over the intervening years I'd managed to forget most of the details until I re-read the book a few days ago, so it was almost like reading it for the first time again.

That said, one of the things that always draws me to Firebird is the cover art. It's some of the most beautiful I've seen on a Mercedes Lackey novel, and it's what pulled me into the read this time. In reality, I'm waiting for my ordered copy of Freedom's Choice to arrive so I can continue to read that series. So, a book I know is a moderately quick though gripping read was a good choice in my mine. At the same time, it sparked a reading streak.

I've started racing through the retellings of various fairy-tales that Mercedes Lackey has written - mostly in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series. Firebird led me to Fortune's Fool and then to The Snow Queen. Now I want to re-read One Good Knight, which I don't seem to have in my collection. I also want to hunt down Black Swan, which she wrote years ago.

Anyway, back to Firebird. This one's based on the Russian tale of the Firebird, and maintains the storyline as far as I can tell. At the same time, I'm fairly certain that Mercedes Lackey has added her own twists to the story. I'm just not familiar enough with her source material to know, though I can guess as to some of them.

As I noted in my previous review, there are a few lines that will make anyone familiar with her works laugh - because you'll recognize them from previous books. Still, they suit the situation and they gave me a chuckle, so I'm not complaining.

Definitely a book I recommend, especially if you have a soft spot in your heart for fairy-tales.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Freedom's Landing - Anne McCaffrey

Freedom's Landing - Anne McCaffrey
Freedom's Landing
Anne McCaffrey
Ace Publishing
Copyright: 1996

The product description:
Kristin Bjornsen lived a normal life, right up until the day the spaceships floated into view above Denver. As human slaves were herded into the maw of a massive vessel, Kristin realized her normal life was over and her fight for freedom was just beginning…

The alien Catteni value strength and intelligence in their slaves—and Kristin has managed to survive her enslavement while hundreds of other humans have not. But her trial has just begun, for now she finds herself part of a massive experiment. The aliens have discovered a new world, and they have a simple way of finding out if it’s habitable: drop hundreds of slaves on the surface and see what happens.

If they survive, colonization can begin. If not, there are always more slaves.
This is an older Anne McCaffrey novel, and one I'd nearly forgotten about until my latest trip to my favorite used bookstore. They just happened to have three of the four books in the series in (Of course, not the second one, so I'm waiting for my ordered copy of that to arrive. Hopefully later this week).

Freedom's Landing has an interesting combination going for it - science fiction with a hint of romance, and it works. The story has held up pretty well too, although fifteen years or so isn't all that much time.

One interesting little piece of trivia: The opening chapter or so of Freedom's Landing (with an alternative ending than that of the chapter in question in the novel) was published as Thorns of Barevi in Get Off The Unicorn back in the 1970's.

I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Freedom's Choice, and I don't want to risk spoiling things - although why I worry about that for a book that's not a new release, I don't know.


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