Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dreamdark Silksinger, by Laini Taylor

A few days later than promised, and it's going to be short, because it's 2am and I'm leaving for Hawaii tomorrow (but if I'm sleep-deprived I'm more likely to sleep on the plane, right?), but here's the review of the second book in Laini Taylor's Fairies of Dreamdark series.

"Whisper Silksinger knew two kinds of death."

Great opening line, neh? Silksinger continues the story of Magpie Windwitch trying to fix the Tapestry of Creation, but Taylor introduces two new characters. Whisper and Hirik are entirely different from Magpie and Talon: shy, reluctant heroes who are thrust into a quest and have a hard time believing they are capable of achieving it. Their story forms a nice counterpart to Magpie and Talon's on-going action-hero saga. We still get to see plenty of our favourite characters from Blackbringer, and we learn more about this world and its history. There's another great bad guy who I won't say anything about so as not to spoil it, and there's Slomby, who has to pick the leeches off the firedrakes. There's failure and betrayal and people doing things you never thought they would. This story arc gets completed, but the world isn't saved yet, so we can happily anticipate at least one more fascinating, original story about characters I absolutely love.

I'm going to go with beef short ribs as my food metaphor, probably because I recently saw a recipe that looked delicious that I want to try (Braised Short Ribs with Potatoes and Apples Risotto-style). Think sweet-salty-meaty, sink-your-teeth-in, hearty. (I just checked, and I said Blackbringer was like Lamb Tagine, so I'm sticking with the theme here!)

Note: Do not look at the fairies pictured on the front cover and think that you don't want to read this book because it's about fairies. Trust me, these are no fairies you've ever imagined. (I do love the cover, though.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Year's Resolution:

Be more consistent about writing in blog.

So, in an attempt to be disciplined about this, I'm going to promise to write something every Sunday. Tomorrow: the promised review of Fairies of Dreamdark: Silksinger

In the meantime I can tell you that I greatly enjoyed Scott Westerfield's Leviathan and Behemoth, (they're too popular for me to do a full review, since I'm supposed to be recommending lesser-known books). What's not to like in a story with a prince on the run, a girl disguised as a boy, and an airship that's actually a giant floating whale. I love the way Westerfield re-imagines the Allied and Axis powers of WWI as the Darwinists and the Clankers.  Tesla cannons, Perspicacious Loraxes, mechanical elephants: it's clever, imaginative, and a whole lot of fun. There were a couple of places in Behemoth where my suspension of disbelief was stretched beyond the breaking point, but once you've swallowed the floating whale, you're pretty much in for the duration!

I'll leave you with some pictures of awesome chairs--who knew there was such cool furniture out there! (And how does one choose which iconic chair to put in the living room?)

The Bouloum Lounge, designed by Olivier Mourgue, made by Arconas (in Canada!):


The Tongue chair, designed by Pierre Paulin, made by Artifort:

The Voido rocking chair, designed by Ron Arad, made by Magis:

Little Globe, designed by Pierre Paulin, made by Artifort:

I got all these images from Hive Modern, a store that makes me wish I lived in Portland.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I saw Never Let Me Go on the plane

First of all, sorry about the blog hiatus: I just spent two weeks on a family holiday in New York (and the two weeks prior to that were spent planning the holiday)(why is there always so much to do before you go on a trip? The pre-trip stress almost cancels out the trip relaxation!)

I've got a few book recommendations to write: the next Fairies of Dreamdark book by Laini Taylor, and a very unique alternate world fantasy by Hiromi Goto. But I'm still unpacking, and there are relatives in town now, so it'll take me a few days.

But in the meantime I can tell you about the movie I watched on the plane on the way home: Never Let Me Go, based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro. Wow. What a beautiful, perfectly crafted, exquisite movie. And a total sob-fest: let's just say I'm glad I was half spaced-out on Gravol when I watched it, because otherwise I'd have run out of tissues. (You know from the beginning what's going to happen, so I'm not giving anything away.)

It takes an idea that's been done in various sci-fi guises: we've discovered how to cure all diseases and extend life by creating clones and harvesting their vital organs. But this is not a sci fi movie, not by any means. For one thing, it's set in the 1970's, 80's and 90's in rural England, so it has the feel of a period piece. And it's not about cloning. It's about three characters--clones who have been brought up in a special school where they have a strangely idyllic childhood while preparing for their lives as Donors. It's about their coming of age and their relationships with each other. It's about love, and art, and what it means to be human. It is entirely and in every way brilliant, both in plot and in screenplay and in cinematography and acting and editing. Not that I know much about those things, but I can at least recognize when they're perfectly done (I used that word already, didn't I). Go see this movie, and watch it as a work of art. Yes, it's sad, but it isn't depressing, and it is just so beautiful.