Review of The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente

November 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Girl Who Soared Over FairylandThe Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland #3)
By Catherynne M. Valente; Read by Catherynne M. Valente
Publisher: Dreamscape
Publication Date: 1 October 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours, 23 minutes

Themes: / fantasy / YA / children’s / fairy / coming-of-age /

Publisher summary:

September misses Fairyland and her friends Ell, the Wyverary, and the boy Saturday. She longs to leave the routines of home and embark on a new adventure. Little does she know that this time, she will be spirited away to the moon, reunited with her friends, and find herself faced with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti with great and mysterious powers.

This was a lovely third book in the Fairyland series, where September has struggled to return to Fairyland and is wondering if you can ever really go back. The characters left behind in Fairyland have struggled too, missing her and loving her. Life apart is not always easy.

September meets a few versions of Saturday and starts to question whether she gets choices in her life, and between that and the nostalgia of childhood and facing being a grownup and what that means for her fairy land and fairy friends, this book is a bit tinged in sadness. It also includes Valente’s amazing imagination that we’ve seen from her poetry to Palimpsest (still my favorite) to the very underdiscussed Prester John books.

This is the first book of Valente’s that I’ve listened to, and Catherynne M. Valente is a marvelous performer of her own work. Her voice has the versatility of an old-Hollywood actress, with moments of great rich depth. I feel like going back and listening to everything she’s ever read. Her performance enriches her worlds, and I highly recommend the audio.

The Fairyland books are highly recommended, starting with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.  Perfect for kids, young adults, and adults who can still dream.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

Review of Jumper by Steven Gould

July 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Jumper by Steven GouldJumper (Jumper #1)
By Steven Gould; Performed by MacLeod Andrews
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] 10 hrs. on 9 CDs
ISBN: 978-1469298801

Themes: / teleportation / coming-of-age /crime /

Publisher summary:

What if you could go anywhere in the world, in the blink of an eye? Where would you go? What would you do? Davy can teleport. To survive, Davy must learn to use and control his power in a world that is more violent and complex than he ever imagined. But mere survival is not enough for him. Davy wants to find others like himself, others who can Jump. And that’s a dangerous game.

It’s actually interesting to note the timing for my reading of this book. I’d just finished Larry Correia’s Hard Magic and jumped (pun intended) right into Jumper by Steven Gould, the new SFWA president.

I absolutely loved Hard Magic and Correia’s book dealt with a wide variety of different magics, from the Pale Horse who can make people die to the Heavies who can use magic to move objects (and much more as we find out) and even teleports who can disappear and appear anywhere they want. Jumper, on the other hand, only deals with one power, teleportation. How could this book even compete?

And yet as complicated and well-thought-out as Hard Magic is, even going so far as to explain what happens when you teleport into a bug (it melds with your skin and really hurts), Jumper was an excellent story in its simplicity. Jumper explains some of the nuances of the powers of teleportation, but not nearly as in-depth as Correia (I know, even with all the other powers it deals with).

Davy learns about his powers through some pretty brutal circumstances. His dad is an alcoholic who regularly beats him, but in the middle of one episode, he suddenly “jumps” away to his local library. From there, he decides not to go back, but that doesn’t mean he understands or even knows how to use his newfound skills. Davy gets into more trouble out on his own with scumbags who try to rape him and again he accidentally teleports out of the situation and back to the library.

And so begins Davy’s use of his powers and his fledgling understanding of what he is able to do. This, this right here, is the genius of this story. I can’t imagine finding myself with these powers, especially at a young age and with such brutal circumstances, but I’m sure it would be something very similar to this. Okay, with a few less problems because not everyone encounters one problem after the next, but overall it works so well.  The performance by MacLeod Andrews is a good capture of being a teenager, crackly voice and all.

I’m also happy to report that the book is leaps and bounds better than the movie. With such a cool premise and such great previews, how did that movie suck so much? Oh yeah, they got the worst actor in the world to be the lead.

On the topic of the movie, if you are one of the poor souls who sat through it (it did have its moments of not being terrible I have to admit), the movie follows the book pretty well for the most part although there are some things that are added, but I’m wondering if those elements don’t appear in the sequels to this book which I’ll have to read and get back to you about.

To recap. Jumper is much better than the movie and works well because of its simplicity. It’s nothing that will change the world in terms of ideas or writing, but it’s great for what it’s meant for – action and exploration. It displays a power we all wish we could have and does so brilliantly and realistically.

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

Posted by Bryce L.

Review of Imager by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

May 26, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Imager by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.Imager (The First Book of the Imager Portfolio)
By L.E. Modesitt, Jr.; Read by William Dufris
2 MP3-CDs – 18 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781400161805
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic / Politics / Coming of Age / Economics /
| MP3 Audio Sample |

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. has published over 50 novels, both science fiction and fantasy. Imager, his latest novel, is the first time his work has appeared on audio.

Imager is the start of a new fantasy series called “The Imager Portfolio”. It’s the story of Rhenn, who at the beginning is an apprentice portrait painter. In a life-changing event, he realizes two things: First, he can no longer continue in his profession, and second, he is an “imager” – a person who can make things real by visualizing them in his mind. Imagers are not common, but common enough to be feared and respected in Modesitt’s world.

After this, the novel takes it’s time in following Rhenn grow into his new-found ability. He climbs the ladder as an imager taking various and interesting training that use his ability in unique ways. My first thought was not that an imager would make a good bodyguard, but imaging something into a person’s body makes for quick defense – or a potent offense.

William Dufris is wonderful as always. The novel is not quick paced, as if Modesitt is using this volume to firmly create the world for future volumes. Dufris is as engaged a narrator while relating the details as he is during the exciting bits. A pleasure to hear!

Tantor will be publishing the next two volumes of this trilogy, and I will be listening!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson