Judging A Book By Its Cover: The Flat Earth Series

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I do purchase special editions of books and multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

Continue reading

Book Review: Sabella

Sabella
By Tanith Lee

My Edition:
Paperback, 157 pages
1980, DAW

Sabella lives on the Earth-like colony of Nova Mars in the house where her mother died. After her aunt’s sudden death she finds herself being stalked by a young man who she met on the way to her aunt’s funeral. But Sabella knows what to do with handsome young men; she’s been feeding off their blood since she was fourteen. However, this young man brings with him a host of troubles that bring Sabella out of her secluded life.

I loved Sabella as a character, but as a book, not so much.

Continue reading

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Red As Blood

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I do purchase special editions of books and multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

Continue reading

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Madame Two Swords

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

Continue reading

Book Review: Piratica II & III

Piratica II: Return to Parrot Island
(Being: The Return of a Most Intrepid Heroine to Sea and Secrets)
By Tanith Lee

My Edition:
Hardcover, 320 pages
2006, Dutton Children’s Books
ISBN: 0525477691

Art and Felix return to the sea with their old crew, this time as privateers in the government’s employ, to fight against Franco-Spainia in support of a revolution for the people. Not only does she have some new crew members, but she also has orders, and struggles to bend to the will of her employers and stay true to her code: never kill.

Continue reading

Judging A Book By Its Cover: The Secret Books Of Venus

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

Continue reading

Book Review: Piratica

Piratica
(Being a Daring Tale of a Singular Girl’s Adventure Upon the High Seas)
By My Queen Tanith Lee

My Edition:
Hardcover, 288 pages
2003, Dutton Children’s Books
ISBN: 0525473246

Art has been banished to the Angels Academy for the last six years of her life, learning deportment and other ladylike qualities that bore her to death. A fall down the stairs and a knock to the head suddenly causes her to remember her childhood, which was spent at her mother’s side on a pirate ship. Art quickly escapes the academy, finds her mother’s old crew and revives their spirits by basically forcing them back into a life of piracy as she lives in the spirit of her legendary mother, Piratica.

-screams- TANITH! Er, ok, so, I’ve read a ton of middle-grade this month and, sadly, none of it has impressed me. It was time for a change and I knew just what would do the trick – Tanith Lee! I’ve been sitting on this Piratica series for FAR too long and I don’t know why. I love how atmospheric her Claidi series is and my semi-recent re-read of The Unicorn Trilogy made me recall the special place her middle-grade/teen (I feel like all these series fall somewhere in between) books have in my crusty little heart.

Continue reading

Book Review: Space of Her Own

Asimov’s Space of Her Own
By Various Authors

My Edition:
Paperback, 244 pages
1983, Ace Books
ISBN: 0441778712

This book contains 17 sci-fi stories written by women. The subjects range from alien worlds, post-apocalyptic scenarios, advanced technology and adventures through space.

I initially purchased this book because my goddess Tanith Lee has a story in it and I finally picked it up thanks to Vintage Sci-fi Month. I didn’t dislike any of the stories, though I naturally preferred some over the others. I’m just going to highlight the ones I had the most thoughts about.

The Sidon in the Mirror by Connie Willis: This was a slightly trippy look at life in a small community on a mining planet. The world building was fairly complex considering the length, but I think I got a good taste of what Willis created. I enjoyed that characters had a local dialect. Overall it was sad and a little mysterious.

The Jarabon by Lee Killough: Killough created an interesting and compelling thief, as well as a unique form of space travel. I really loved where she went with this and would have loved for this to be a full-length novel. I wanted to know more about her badass thief-lady and her sordid past.

Belling Martha by Leigh Kennedy: This is a post-apocalyptic tale where food is scarce and winter might not end. A young girl has escaped a religious camp and made her way to the city to seek her father. This story was incredibly fucked up and a little gross, but believable. I was really into what was going on and this is another one I’d love a novel of.

La Reine Blanche by Tanith Lee: Tanith gives readers a fairy-tale-esque short about a widowed queen trapped in a tower and a magic raven who comes to see her. This had her classic atmospheric world-building and otherworldly characters, though it deals with some timey-wimey stuff so it was a tad confusing.

Miles to go Before I Sleep by Julie Stevens: Another tale set after some sort of apocalypse has hit the earth and created a divide between those who live in cities and those who fend for themselves in small towns. It had a sort of Mad Max feel because I got the feeling fuel sources were low and perhaps plant life as well? I really wanted a novel of this and I felt that just as I had an inkling of what was going on in this world, the story was over!

The Ascent of the North Face by Ursula K. Le Guin: Alright, I’m calling out this tale because I honestly don’t know what to make of it. There is a party of explorers climbing something, perhaps a mountain, except they refer to sections like the Roof and Chimney. I was confused as to whether these were tiny people scaling a normal sized house, normal sized people scaling a giant house, or if it was really just an oddly named mountain.

Blue Heart by Stephanie A. Smith: The main character in this is a sort of light house warden who can mentally connect to some sort of net that guides spaceships through her area of space. But she’s getting old and worried that she won’t be able to do her job much longer, so she’s looking into transferring her consciousness into a robot. I enjoyed the technology mentioned in this story and the general sadness it evoked.

Fire-Caller by Sydney J. Van Scyoc: This is a tale of slavery and warring peoples and a woman who can create fire from within herself when she speaks to the old gods. Another very atmospheric tale that I would have loved a full-length novel of. Just as I had an idea of what was going on and became attached to the characters, the story ended.

I’m thankful for Vintage Sci-fi Month because it prompts me to pick up some books that I probably would have left alone for who knows how long. This is a great collection for anyone looking for female voices, especially as all of these tales were written in the 80s, just as female writers were really starting to break into the genre and earn respect for their craft.

Book Review: Dark Castle, White Horse

Dark Castle, White Horse
By Tanith Lee

My Edition:
Paperback, 302 pages
1986, DAW
ISBN: 0886771137

A girl in a black castle sends a summoning spell for someone to help free her from her ancient guardians. A wandering bard with a magical harp made with bone answers the call, but so does a force of evil. A prince who cannot remember his past, nor even his name, finds himself atop a talking horse on his way to a castle made of bone.

This book is actually comprised of two separate stories, The Castle of Dark and Prince on a White Horse. Thematically, I’m sure they have something in common, aside from both being fantasy adventures, but I don’t really know what. I picked it up because I need to read more of my Tanith collection and it’s vintage sci-fi month (hosted by my friend Jason) so what better time to start? Also that cover! –heart eyes-

Sometimes it’s hard for me to review Tanith’s work because I love almost everything of hers I’ve read so far. I just want to say “I love her work, read it!” Her books are instantaneously atmospheric and immersive and I love her simplistic, yet detailed style. I tweeted about the feeling of experiencing real magic when I read a book of hers (or any favorite author really.)  So I’ll try to make some sense, but I can’t promise anything.

The Castle of Dark introduces readers to Lilune, a young girl imprisoned in a strange castle by two old crones. She knows nothing about the world outside the castle because she’s never allowed to leave and she is allowed to roam the castle grounds only at night, as she must sleep during the day. She uses the only spell she’s learned from her captors in an attempt to summon someone to help her escape and so Lir, a harper, comes to her aid. Once free of the castle, the two blunder their way through the surrounding forest, hampered by Lilune’s weakness to sunlight and her compulsion to sleep during the day. They’re separated and when Lilune is off adventuring on her own is when the book truly started to show Tanith’s skill for world building and atmosphere. I liked Lilune because she showed growth, despite the short length of the story. Lir felt a little standard, as far as the hero character goes, but I didn’t mind.

Prince on a White horse had a surprisingly funny tone. A prince who knows nothing about who he is or where he’s from wakes in a strange land with only a talking horse to guide him – though when asked, the horse replies that he cannot talk. Even though the prince is tasked with saving this weird realm from a source of great evil, the story remained lighthearted. I don’t think I’ve ever chuckled so much when reading one of Tanith’s books before. The prince has a very RPG experience, in that he’s incredibly lucky and many characters come to aid or hinder him in cliché ways, but that’s what made the story entertaining.

I, of course, recommend this book to everyone because it’s Tanith and I enjoyed it.