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And back to books. Because really, I read too much. But I think I want to take this oppertunity to talk about one of the classics that truely belongs on the lists of classics, 'Jane Eyre'. This is really two books and in today's publishing market would have been split up. The first half of the book is an interesting glimpse into the life of unwonted children of the age that Bronte wrote. Not orphans, but boarding schools designed to instill disapline and religion into young children who had been sent away from home. An yet the reader gets the sense that this is a home, with some teachers honestly caring for their charges among their strict rules of decorum. Rules that are not just the school's, but an the rules of entire society.

When the main character is finished with school, she leaves and the real story begins. Just like life, childhood may make you the adult you are, but being an adult is where life truly begins. Jane Eyre keeps much of her schools tenets about her and the reader often sees the strength and moral character she gained at school shine through as she takes a job as a governess.

The second half of the story, and in my mind, almost the second book, deals with self sacrifice and the consequences of pride. While Jane is always unbending to the outside world, the struggle to stay on the right path is highly emphasized to the reader. And like many, the ending, while a happy one, still bears the scars of the character's faults and the consequences of their actions.

All in all, it was on of the few classics I could not only stomach, but enjoy and have actually reread on occasion. It is very stiff and for those of us that don't speak French, there are entire paragraphs you will have to figure out by context, but the story is strong and the plot is entertaining.
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Now for something completely differant on here, I'm going to talk about a comic. Girl Genius (www.girlgeniusonline.com) is one of my all time favorite comics. The steam punk feel of the entire thing is wonderful. The story line is consistent and the drawing in wonderful. And the best part? Its free on-line to read. Though I totally recommend buying the books. The story is worth is and I can't get enough of Agatha. Though, Cafe Press has some fun goodies too...

This is a fairly old comic and as such there is a lot to catch up on and on-line there is a huge gap in the story between the old pages being revamped and the current story arc. You need to either buy the books to fill in that gap or be patient as the author adds new pages and fils in that gap. But the update are remarkably consistent and there is little wrong with this comic that I can find. Funny, innovative and constantly fresh, it is recommended to one and all.


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I'm on a bit of a McKinnley kick so I thought I'd talk about my absolute favorite of her works, 'The Outlaws of Sherwood'. This is a retelling of the classic Robin Hood legends. All the classic characters are there including Robin, Marian, Friar Tuck and Little John with some lesser known characters as well.

The story is woven with a thread of reality that makes one believe that this all might really have happened. Robin is less the cocky rebel leader of the Harold Flynn film and more the scared peasant who never had any plans for any of this to happen. The scenes of heroic rescues are followed by discussion of how to hide a privy in the forrest. And the final showdown between the Sheriff and Robin after the archery tournament (which Robin is smart enough to not only recognize as a trap and smart enough not to go anywhere near) is truly harrowing and the outlaws are clearly outmatched.

I can not sing the praises of this book enough. For an author that deals primarily in high fantasy and magic, 'The Outlaws of Sherwood' is a wonderful change in genre but not in writing style or skill. McKinley keeps everything moving at a good pace and makes the reader genuinely concerned about her characters.

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As I slowly plow through 'The Lesser Kindred' I want to keep recommending books. So, in honor of my other posts, I bring you the third full book by Robin McKinley that takes place in her land of Damar.

The Blue Sword is not McKinley's best work but it is still far from bad. In this story she takes her world of Damar and runs it smack into English colonial society, or her world's equivalent. There are representatives of the Queen and country there trying to colonize and civilize this new land of "barbarians". Again, the hero is a young woman, Harry, who is actually the sister of one of the soldiers at the fort. She is enchanted by the desert and the people of Damar and gets dragged into the thick of things. For fans of 'The Hero and the Crown' Aerin makes several guest appearances and their are legends of her talked about.

Minor spoilers...Collapse )

This is a great stand alone book but it is even better when read after 'The Hero and the Crown'. I loved the classic colonial attitudes that McKinnley brought into play and the way she forced her world of high fantasy to meet a world of English ideals.
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And I am slowly making my way through the second book in Elizabeth Kerner's trilogy. To be fair, it is more because of my hectic work schedual than the book that it is taking me awhile to get through it. But this is mostly a refresher for me. My goal is to finish this one so I can finally read the newest book and actually know what is going on.

This book picks up almost immediatly after teh first one, Song in the Silence. In it, the Greater Kindred are forced by nature off their island, ending a several thousand year isolation. They seek out Varien and Lanen to help them get along in this new/old home.

Talk about the ending...Collapse )

All in all, this was a good sequal and a good contiuation of this series.
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So yesterday got me thinking about other Robin McKinley books that I loved. Deerskin is one that I know the author herself is not too fond of. It is much darker than her other stories in many ways. And while it takes place in the same world as The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, somewhere between those two books, it is never found with them. That is because this is based off of, like so much of McKinley’s work, a fairytale. Specifically, Donkeyskin. If you are familiar with that fairytale, you know the basic plot of the story.

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For those who are looking for something with a world a little less kind, Deerskin is wonderful. But the end is definitly a tear jerker as the main character tears open emotional wounds to finally let them heal. This is for mature readers though. Keeping in mind I found this book shortly after I found The Hero and the Crown though, I think maturity has less to do with age than with ability to handle disturbing ideas. And, I'll be honest, at the tender age of 8 I didn't quite grasp everything the first time through.
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An excerpt from the bookCollapse )

What can I say, this is the first "real" book I read. I started reading very young and I started with the Baby-sitter's Club series. Even then, I knew the books were formulaic and regularly skipped the chpters that were always the same information on the backstory. But I was a determined little kid and probably read over 150 of these books. And yes, I actually had my parents buy them for me and still own them. But then I went to my school's library and randomly checked out Hero and the Crown. This was the first book I ever read more than once and the first book I ever spent serious time and effort tracking down to buy. For a eight year old, that is saying something. I love this book still and my old worn copy is still highly treasured. This story is complex enough that both adults and children will get something out of it. And every time I reread it I find something new to think about. And since I am now 23 and still have been known to pull out this book, that is not just some line.

This is classic high fantasy, complete with a princess and a dragon, but the romance is more mature than one would ever expect to find and the main character is osmeone just strong enough to respect and with enough faults to emphasize with. While, over time I have found other books and authors, The Hero and the Crown and Robin McKinley's writing in general will always have a very special place in my heart and on my bookshelf.
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This is a book that I am currently re-reading. The author just came out with the third in the series and after picking it up and reading the first couple pages, I relized I had to admit to old age and memory loss and re-read the first two. In my defense, the author is slow in publishing her sequels.

Small spoilers behind cutCollapse )

This is the first book of the series. As such, it sets up a lot of plot. But, since it also seems to be the first book of a cautious author, it also ends nicly. There is still obviously things that don’t get taken care of but you can easily finish this book and not immediately have to find the sequal. The second in this series is not nearly as kind.

Basically, I’d recommend is as an interesting world and a good fantasy read.
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So, this is a community for book lovers. Maybe you are looking for the newest book out there or have heard of some rare, out-of print book and are interested in learning more. And hey, maybe you have a favorite comic or fan-fiction writer. If its the printed word, it is acceptable here.

So, here's the deal. Place the name of the book and/or author in the subject line and place any spoilers behind cuts if you post. Other than that, its the usual, be respectful and nice to each other. Right, enjoy!

*heart*
Sashadlg

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