Saturday, May 16, 2015

Past, Present and Future (books 36-40 2015)

36 - The Illustrated Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett and Stephen Player


The Queen of the Fairies steals Tiffany Aching's sticky and irritating younger brother. As nobody else is likely to rescue him, Tiffany, a practical, sensible and responsible girl, sets out to do the job herself, with help from the drinkin' fightin' and stealin' Nac Mac Feegle.

I know the text version of this well and enjoy it very much, so when I saw an illustrated version in the library I thought I would be lovely to revisit The Chalk. The story was as wonderful as ever, the illustrations beautifully done. I especially loved the feegles trying to steal letters from the text.

Two days after I finished reading it, I found my very own forgotten copy, sitting sadly in my bookshelf...

37 - Get Over Yourself (Princeless Vol. 2) - Jeremy Whitley and Emily Martin


Adrienne, Bedelia and Sparky continue on their quest to rescue Adrienne's sisters - though she doesn't find quite what she expects the first time she encounters one. This book was not quite as strong as the first, with some unrevealed plot points being a touch obvious - though it will be fun to see certain characters work those things out. Regardless of faults, it's a fast-paced adventure with protagonists who are doing their best to work things out as they go and keep trouble at bay. There's plenty being set up for the rest of the series, and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

38 - Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories


Kaleidoscope is a celebration of diversity of all kinds, and a wonderful collection of YA short stories. It won Best Anthology at the 2014 Aurealis Awards and several of the stories within were nominated or won awards in their own right. I've written a little on some of my personal favourites.

The first story Cookie Cutter Superhero by Tansy Rayner Roberts was a great start that looked at gender, disability and superheroes, focusing on the expectations that a society has surrounding its superheroes.

As I've read Twinmaker and Crashland by Sean Williams, I was keen to read The Legend Trap a story centred on a group of teens exploring an urban legend surrounding teleportation, a technology that is a very everyday part of their lives. They get a great deal more than they bargained for...

End of Service by Gabriela Lee is a wonderfully disturbing story in which a girl whose mother, who worked overseas and was consequently rarely present, has died. I am lost on how to describe it much further without giving the game away.

Happy Go Lucky by Garth Nix is a story set in a dystopian future. The main character lives in a society where quantified luck defines your rights, privileges and opportunities. The story has a point to make regarding the current politics surrounding asylum seekers and the "stop the boats" policy in Australia.

39 - Gnarr! How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World - Jon Gnarr


An autobiography of Jon Gnarr, who founded the Best Party to satirize the political system in Iceland, then won office.

Honestly, this was a bit disappointing. There were a few interesting bits but they were the exception, given what I'd heard of this public figure I was hoping for rather more than I got. Whether reflective of the original or a result of translation, the writing quality was not as good in quality as I expected.

40 - Peacemaker (Peacemaker #1) - Marianne de Pierres


Virgin Jackson is the senior ranger in Birrimun Park, the last natural landscape in Australia. Certainly, the cactuses aren't strictly accurate but tourists expect cacti in a desert, and they are necessary to keep the park open and maintained. It is in the Western Quarter of a vast megacity that sprawls along Australia's eastern coast. The night before a visiting ranger is expected to arrive, there is a murder in the park. Virgin and the visiting ranger, Nate Sixkiller, are dragged into a situation that rapidly spirals out of control.

It's difficult to define the genre, it's not unusual to find a genre-crossing book but this one has a bit of everything. It's a Western/Mystery/SciFi/Horror/Fantasy/Romance/Action/... that promises to be the starting point of a highly innovative series.

I found the romance handling a bit cringe-worthy, but I'm willing to say that's just a matter of personal taste. When I look beyond that, there's a lot to enjoy. Parallels are drawn with the political and social environment of Australia today, speculating what might come of these.

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