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review 2014-08-03 00:26
Horns - Joe Hill

Wow!  I saw the preview for the movie and immediately bought the book.  This book is like the bratty little brother of The Gargoyle and Hellboy.  It's pretty amaze-balls.  Having the ability to know what people are really thinking is definitely not a super power I'd want....


"...people you love should be allowed to keep their worst to themselves."


It makes for a great summer read.  I could not put this book down until I finished it.

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review 2014-03-24 16:14
Powers: The Annals of The Western Shore #3: a review
Powers (Annals of the Western Shore #3) - Ursula K. Le Guin

Powers: The Annals of The Western Shore #3 by Ursula LeGuin

Gav was raised as a slave and cannot imagine a world without slavery. It seems the only way the world works, indeed almost reasonable to him. Gav and his sister Sallo are not native to their city state, Etra, but were captured as very small children and raised as slaves. He is proud that his owners, the House Arcamand, are "honorable" and that he is treated well, unlike in other Houses, where slaves are not well-fed, or given fine clothing, educated. In fact, he is being raised to become the House Teacher. His older sister Sallo is being raised to become a Gift Girl... and it quickly becomes clear that in his innocence, young Gav does not realize the dire implications of this status. Gift girls are given as gifts to those the House wishes to bond.  They have no say in the matter and are little more than prostitutes.

Sallo warns Gab that he must hide from his owners (indeed from everyone but her) his "power", a sort of future seer-sight. His visions come at inopportune times, but they come true, ro were once true long ago.  They disturb him and unnerve others. He is content with his life of learning and service at first. But then the underside of slavery begins to become apparent to him, through a series of events over which he is not permitted any voice or control......and his world is disrupted beyond repair. He spends the second half of the book wrestling to understand a world in which such evil exists, and seeking a reason to even just keep living.

This is the third in the Annals of The Western Shore trilogy by one of my favorite YA writers, Ursula Le Guin. Like book two, it is a separate story of a separate person not found in the first book, yet there are connections that become clearer as you read on. Orrec Caspro appears again, much older, and we meet Memer again, briefly, beautifully, sweetly. This book is darker than the first two by far. It asks a terrible question: why should we keep going when life is so unfair and brutal?

Book one in the series wrestled with questions of personal power and "might makes right." Book two wrestled with illiteracy and war, and the power of the written word. Book three wrestles rather brutally with slavery and freedom, and the different KINDS of slavery. Gav is an outright slave at the beginning, but in many ways he is no less a slave after he escapes into the Denedan forest. Of course I am grossly simplifying this: all three books wrestle with many more things.....but this is what I love about Ursula le Guin's work: the wrestling with BIG QUESTIONS.

I adored the Earthsea Trilogy. This one is wonderful as well. I;d give this to any strong reader ages 11 or so and up. I'd insist that my own kids read it, if they were that age. still.If I had the power, this is one of a short list of 20 books that I would recommend  all adults to read and study. 

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review 2014-03-24 16:08
Voices: The Annals of The Western Shore #2:a review
Voices (Annals of the Western Shore #2) - Ursula K. Le Guin

Voices: The Annals of The Western Shore #2, by Ursula leGuin

Memer was born after the invasion of Ansul, her city state, so she does not personally recall a time when her people were free... but those of her House, Galvan, do, and they have taught her the old ways. Outwardly, publicly, Memer complies with the rules of the invaders.....But Memer has a secret.

This is a beautiful tale of a half-breed semi-orphaned girl born into a captive city state, held rather fiercely by illiterate warriors from the east who worship a fire god. To the invaders, books are evil, demonic even, and thus forbidden in this once-cultured and educated place. To Memer, however, books are escape, travel, freedom, hope. Then two unusual visitors come to town, and suddenly the balance of power in Ansul is shifting.... dangerously.

In this second of the three novels of the Annals of The Western Shore, we will again meet with some of the characters from book one, but this is clearly Memer's story, not theirs. I fell in love with her, and with her teacher and guardian, the wounded and wise man who raised her once her parents were gone. It was fascinating to see the small ways the people of Ansul used to rebel, the carefully guarded activities they performed to keep their captors off their backs. You also see things, briefly, through the eyes of the captors, and discover that they are not, after all, completely bad people, and may even have honor. This is typical of Le Guin, forcing you to shift paradigms and see things through the other guys' eyes. Love it.

And you get to see a new side to Caspro Orrec and Gry, from book one.

Enough action to keep you engaged, but lots of wonderful questions as well, in true Ursula Le Guin fashion. Highly recommended, especially to those who love books.

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review 2014-03-21 03:31
Stung: a review
Stung - Bethany Wiggins

Stung, by Bethany Wiggins


This story of what happens when the bees die off was mildly interesting at first, but became tedious rather quickly. Genetic engineering gone wrong is the premise that sets up this dystopian world. butalmost nothing is said about it until halfway through the book, and even then the explanation is..... thin.  Our heroine, sadly, is annoying as heck and difficult to care about. And this is more about a really shallow romance than it is about the world they are living in. That made this book almost impossible to finish. I had to force myself.

Fiona wakes up from what appears to be a coma, a nearly fully grown woman of 17 who last remembers being only 13. Things had started to fall apart in the world she remembers, but the world she wakes up to is pretty far gone. There's a few isolated fortress-like cities left. Inside the walls, people have plenty to eat and live fairly comfortably. Outside the walls, you chew leather to stay alive and must constantly hide to avoid both rape gangs and monstrously powerful zombie-like humans who have been 'stung". These creatures all bear "the mark" Anyone who bears "the mark" will eventually turn into something resembling a terrible zombie. And Fiona wakes up with the mark, alone, unable to remember the last four years, in a deserted house.... outside the walls.

I got pretty tired of Fiona, frankly, and the bleak landscape she travels through. The romance was a bit obvious, and the violence pretty graphic, very constant, and too overly described for my tastes.  "Her left hand swung around to connect with his cheek" sort of thing.  


Women in this book sit and worry and flap their hands helplessly for the most part, while the men run about rampaging and raping and being generally ape like butt heads.Ah stereotypes, so good to see you being reinforced yet again.


I wish more time had been paid to the whole bee thing, but it is dismissed early on.

A few things I am tired of in this genre:

Why do all dystopian novels have to get sidetracked by an annoying unlikely romance?

Why does youth fiction always have to have rape mentioned?


Why do the writers of dystopian youth fiction so rarely use the collapse of society to examine an issue, such as racism, sexism, issues of governmental control or SOMETHING???  Instead they so often just create this frenetic background and then throw their characters in to it.

Also why does the heroine always have to have a twin brother?

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