Reviews by Amanda G.
“I am reading this because several of my techie coworkers have a love for all things written by Mr. Doctorow. The story is set across multiple characters living in various locations around the world. All of them are players of massive multiplay online games (MMOGs). Some of the players are playing for the fun of belonging and others because they need to make a living. For those forced to play, they endure rough conditions, beatings, and worse if they speak out about the way they are treated. However, an online revolution is coming as players began to form online unions to demand better conditions. Doctorow lacks the narrative spark that makes you emphasize with his characters, though you cringe away at the harshness of their lives in the slums. He's also a bit on the preach-y side as he suddenly stops the story to go on a tangent about how money is made in these games. My fault with the work is that I can see the puppet master. On the other hand, it's a fascinating look at the serious world of MMOGs. I am not a gamer, so I had very little background knowledge about the topic. “
“I just finished Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant and it is one of the most hysterical, smart, and well-thought comics out there. She combined a love of history plus comics to create her award-winning works. While the art is simple, Beaton pokes fun at historical figures, Canadian stereotypes, and most of all herself. Reading through the published volume was a joy. I may also be a bit biased since I suggested via Twitter to Beaton to include a comic on Anne of Green Gables. You’ll have to check out the book to see what story Beaton spun using Anne Shirley.”
“I have a weak spot for strong female characters. This week was no exception when I listened to Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Katsa is a lady killer in the service of her uncle the king. He gives her orders of who to maim or kill and she does his bidding. However, she feels disgusted by the self-serving greedy kings who harm ordinary people. So she starts a Council that carries out separate missions to help people. While doing Council work, she runs into a highly skilled fighter. He recognizes her and to her own astonishment, she decides to let him live. This one moment of hesitation on Katsa’s part completely changes her life. As the story continues, Katsa grows from a cold, no-nonsense character into to a compassionate woman. She defies two treacherous kings and uncovers a 35 year old deception that has harmed thousands. The man she spared becomes her true companion. The full-cast audio production was a bit jarring as each spoken part was read by a different voice actor. When I read a book, I usually ‘hear’ the voices inside my head which are really just variations of my own thought ‘voice’ if that makes any sense! So to listen to a book with multiple voices was a strange experience. After a while, I settled into the story which I loved. This is possibly the best book I’ve read in a while – even beating out Seraphina for recent female-driven fantasy novels. The world building is realistic, detailed, and the struggles of Katsa and the people she encounters feel real. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants action, adventure, and a dash of romance.”
Feeling a little bloodthirsty? If so, follow Ismae as she escapes from an arranged marriage to become an assassin for the god of death. "Grave Mercy" is set in fifteenth century Brittany -- a kingdom exhausted from war. The French are hungry for land and are determined to prevent the duchess from taking her crown so her kingdom can maintain its independence. Ismae has sworn her allegiance to the god of death to take out his targets. Ismae has dual devotions -- to her god and the duchess. However, when an assignment puts her into the path of a political target, Ismae is given her biggest assignment yet -- discover who the traitor is amongst the Brittany court.
"Grave Mercy" is a thick book, but goes by very quickly. The details of Ismae's assassin training is skimmed over, but plenty of weapons are listed. I suspect most of the poisons are made up, but the dreadful death given to the victims are morbidly thrilling. Ismae struggles to fit into the court and play up a romantic deception in order to get close to the crown's traitors. She is young, but she is out for blood and death.
Thompson is known for his beautiful, imaginative graphic novels which are weighty in the hands and hard on your tear ducts. The book is a loose autobiography of Thompson’s childhood where he dives deep into religious feeling to overcome the isolation enforced on him by his peers and family. However, his faith starts to tremble as he grows up. He finds comfort in writing to a girl he met at a Bible camp. Thompson’s journey explores the faith we place in others and ourselves. How one grows and how nothing can stay the same. This is a beautiful work and is simpler in themes than his later epic Habibi (http://www.darienlibrary.org/catalog/record/159432). Both works explore the ties between religion, sexuality, and growing up.