Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I love discovering new authors, and Hartman is now an all-time favourite. This book is amazing!

Seraphina reviewSeraphina is assistant to the palace music master. A gifted musician, she must also hide a difficult secret — in a world where a tenuous, 40-year-0ld peace between humans and dragons is rapidly crumbling, Seraphina is an abomination: half human, half dragon. Trying to conceal this secret isn’t easy, especially when she finds herself wound up in trying to discover who is behind the erosion of the peace treaty between humans and dragons. She finds herself strangely drawn to Lucian Kiggs, cousin and fiancé to princess Glisselda; his keen eyes and clever mind are a danger to her concealed identity. At the same time, the garden of characters inside her head (set up to prevent these characters from running rampant around her mind, making her crazy), has begun to unravel.

Okay, okay. I don’t want to give it away so as usual you get an abbreviated synopsis. Now the fun part…. why this book is so amazing!!! First of all, the world. The world! So detailed, so interesting, and oh the people. These characters are so amazing! Seraphina is perfect: She is strong, smart, flawed, uncertain, inspiring, and best of all: she is imperfect. She makes mistakes, and she learns from them. She is empathetic, and she is rational. She’s even irrational when it comes to her heart… she is utterly relatable.

The writing! Oh, the writing in this book is so beautiful. The characters are alive! (Orma, Seraphina’s tutor: “I’m attracting small children,” Orma muttered, twisting his hat in his hands. “Shoo it away, will you?”). You feel everything each character feels. There is a whole culture of saints that is fascinating. And the dragons. I never imagined dragons like this! They are crusty, and animalistic, and not at all humanized; but they can take the form of humans, and can live in the human world.

All I can say is, no wonder this gem was nominated for the Governor General’s award this year. I can say (with an incredible bias, since I haven’t read the other shortlisted titles) that I vote for Hartman! I hope Seraphina wins!

The best news of all; Hartman is writing a sequel. Oh yes. Stay tuned!

How Anne McCaffrey Changed My Life.. Again

Advance warning: This is probably going to be one of the dorkiest posts I’ve written yet.

Not kidding.

Pretty much all I have to say today is this: Anne McCaffrey is so amazing!!! Auuugghhh! A few weeks ago I re-read Crystal Singer, which I found at a used book sale (thank you, local curling rink). I think the last time I read this, I was probably in junior high so it has been a long while. It was every bit as great as I remember. I don’t know how McCaffrey does it, but she makes science fiction and fantasy seem way less geeky. The covers of the books are completely hilarious, and very much targeted at sci fi readers, but once I get into the book I forget that I’m reading a dorky sci fi book and have to really concentrate on raving to everyone I know about how great the book is.

Dragonsong Anne McCaffreyAt the same book sale, I had also found Dragonsinger and Dragondrums, but of course not Dragonsong (the first in the series). I have been patiently (‘patiently’) waiting since then (March?) to read them, and checking every used bookstore I walk/drive by, because I wanted to start at the beginning. So when I was visiting my sister-in-law a few weeks ago and saw she had Dragonsong on her bookshelf, I begged to borrow it. Thank-you, Catherine! I re-read the whole series and am now firmly ensconced in a full-on, me-in-junior-high-school-style worship of Anne McCaffrey once again.

After I finished the series, I branched out into other authors for a few books. Only to find Killashandra (sequel to Crystal Singer) at the library, which I promptly checked out and rationed. Got my fix…

Who knows how long the worship will go on this time… yep, I’m a giant dork. 🙂

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

I read this one in about two hours. It was a good little read.

Jacinda is a rarity amongst her kind: sure, there are lots of draki, descendants of dragons who can take on a human form, living here and there. But Jacinda is the only fire-breather to be born into her community in recent memory (keeping in mind the lifespan of a draki is abotu 300 years). Jacinda breaks the draki rules, so she and her mom and sister hi-tail it outta the draki community to live with us regular old humans.

I haven’t given a very full description here, but if I do any more describing then you won’t need to read it at all. This wasn’t my favourite teen fantasy book. The writing was so-so, the main character wasn’t as endearing as I wanted her to be (in fact, she seemed a bit whiney and her inner dilemma had me annoyed with her rather than sympathizing). That said, it’s an original idea of Jordan’s. Dragons who can take human form? So cool.

While I enjoyed this one, I feel like it didn’t really live up to it’s potential.

(Saying that makes me feel very Adult, in a goofy way, like a mom or teacher telling a teenager they aren’t living up to their full potential, to which I can picture my teenaged self saying, “What does that even mean?” Reminds me of summer camp when I was 13, and being told that I wasn’t showing enough ‘initiative’ to be recommended for the leadership program for 14-year-olds — one occasion of my teenaged-self thinking “What does that even mean?”).

This kinda reminds me a bit of The Iron King by Julie Kagawa – cool idea, but I really wanted it to be executed better. [Sophie Jordan and Julie Kagawa, please know that I admire you for writing books. 🙂 ]