I decided to delete the (very very out of date) list that was here and just give you a link to my actual TBR list, which is a Google Docs spreadsheet.
And then I swear, I am done. At least for awhile.

So yesterday I re-read it. Yes, the day after I read it the first time. This was mainly motivated by the fact that I had read it in three hours the first time and I felt like I had missed something. I needed to go back and be thorough. What follows here are my notes, somewhat ramble-y. They should be separated by chapter, and all quotes have the page number (obviously from the hardback edition) attached. A few notes:

* Feel free to disagree with any of my theories. Just remember that I reserve the right to delete comments if they're mean. And by mean, I refer to anything which calls me names, calls MWT names, is profanity ridden etc.
* I've followed Sounis-the-community's abbreviation conventions throughout. So MWT=Megan Whalen Turner, MOW=Minister of War (Gen's father), KoA=King of Attolia, QoA=Queen of Attolia, both of these last referring to books rather than characters. I don't think I refer to Conspiracy specifically, but I tend to abbreviate it as CofK.
* Obviously, there will be spoilers. There will also be lj-cuts. The spoilers are more severe than for my previous spoilery review, because they will be more specific. Consider yourself warned.

Prologue-ch. 5 )

Ch. 6-10 )

Ch. 11-15 )

Ch. 16-20 )

general comments )
Bonnie Dundee by Rosemary Sutcliff: reviewed {HERE}

The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters: The second Amelia Peabody mystery. To be honest, I think I'm content to leave the series here. I know people who really enjoy it, and Amelia is a fun character. But it already felt repetitive, which is not good, in the second book of a series!

Mothstorm by Philip Reeve: reviewed {HERE}

Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace: Always a lovely comfort read. The last chapter of Betsy's story is both heart-warming and agonizing, as Betsy returns from Europe and gets married, while the world prepares for World War I. Also lovely for its realistic description of the everyday balancing act between being a writer and a person.

Street of the Five Moons by Elizabeth Peters: The second Vicky Bliss mystery and the one where John Smythe first appears. Outrageous fun, as usual.

These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer: reviewed {HERE}

The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer: reviewed {HERE}. I actually read this one twice.

Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer: reviewed {HERE}

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer: reviewed {HERE}

Night Train to Memphis by Elizabeth Peters: I haven't read The Laughter of Dead Kings yet, but I've read the rest of the books in the Vicky Bliss series and this one is definitely, emphatically my favorite. Peters manages to take all the tropes she's set up in the rest of the books and stand them on their heads. Plus, Schmidt is amazing.

The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye: Always a favorite; a sweet story of Amy, the princess whose godmother gave her the gift of being ordinary.

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner: reviewed {HERE}

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer: Okay but not my favorite.

A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander: reviewed {HERE}

Coraline by Neil Gaiman: I wanted to like this book much more than I did. It was scary, and ultimately I felt like its attitudes were much more positive regarding families than some tried to claim. However, I felt that the depiction of the Other Mother took some cheap shots at religion that really dragged the book as a whole down.

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner: reviewed {HERE}

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett: My second Discworld book. I really liked this one, maybe even more than Mort. Death is rapidly becoming one of my favorite character, and Windle Poons was also great. Full of snark but unexpectedly heartwarming in a way satire is usually not, this was a lovely read.

Cut to the Quick by Kate Ross: When dandy Julian Kestrel accepts a near-stranger's invitation to be his best man, he has no idea that he's taking himself into a strained situation where nothing is as it seems. Murder follows and, in an effort to clear himself and his friends, Kestrel becomes a detective. First in a series. I really enjoyed it, although I wasn't entirely convinced by the 1820's setting. Sadly, Ross died very young, and only wrote four books.

Water by Peter Dickinson and Robin McKinley: reviewed {HERE}

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve: A highly-imaginative futuristic book, set in a world where cities can move about and essentially act as large predators, fueling themselves by eating other cities. Focuses on several young people who gradually find out the truth about the City of London and those who run it. I really enjoyed it and will be looking for the rest of the series. I was surprised by the amount of death in the book.

A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs by Ellis Peters: One of the George Felse mysteries. It took me forever to read it--I finally sat down last night and whipped through it because it was due today and it was my last chance. So, not my favorite. It wasn't set in Shropshire, which is always half the beauty of the Felse books, and somehow it never quite pulled me in.

Book sources: all books from my personal collection, my school library, or inter-library loan
by Megan Whalen Turner


After this review I won't have anything else to say about Attolia* until March 23, which is when Conspiracy of Kings will be released. If you think I'm not counting down the days, you're insane. (Background here: my favorite series tend to be those which have already been fully published--not like I choose it that way, it just happens--so this giddy mixture of anticipation and impatience is new to me.) Sigh. I hope I've convinced one or two of you to pick them up. If I have, my work here is done.

What can I say about this book? Not much, plot-wise, since once again huge spoilers for the first two books would be involved. Alas. Let's just say that all of our favorite characters are back, plus a few more who prove their complete and utter awesomeness! Notably, Costis, a guard in the Queen's Guard, who does something rash and has to deal with the consequences.

By this time, assuming the reader is going through the series in order, we're in on the joke. We know that Gen has something up his sleeve, even if we don't know exactly what it is. And if you are an obsessive long time, ardent fan, there are some lines that will just make you squee. There are some others that make me cry. Every.single.time. (I cry easily over books and movies, but still.) And you know what? Every book in this series is better than the one before it. I don't know how MWT manages it. I seriously do not. (And the first ARC reports are coming in for CofK: this one is definitely happy. But SPOILERS for the rest of the series.) Also in this book, the return of Rosemary Sutcliff references and a moment where Gen quotes himself in Thief AND Howl in Howl's Moving Castle at the same time.

This book, incidentally, contains my favorite simile of all time: "The queen was settling on the edge of the bed, ungainly with hesitation and at the same time exquisite in her grace, like a heron landing in a treetop." (p. 208) It's just so incredibly appropriate and beautiful for that character and moment. And the fact that my second favorite simile of all time is also in this book should tell you something.

The emotional journey that Turner has taken these characters on is wonderful, unexpected and rewarding. She never settles for the easy answer. Gen has gotten what he wanted most in the whole world, but at a price. At a high price. Nonetheless, this is the book where he goes beyond being simply a thief, or even a patriotic thief, to being something--well, I'll just say that someone makes a claim about what he could become at the end of the book, and I agree.

One of the other subplots I love about the books is Gen's spiritual journey. When he starts off in Thief, he doesn't really believe in the gods of his country. By the end of that book he is forced into belief. In QoA, he does believe, but he still doubts and questions. For Turner to take him from the beginning of the Thief, when he thinks of the gods as old legends to the end of KoA, when he says "Whether I am on a rafter three stories up or on a staircase three steps up, I am in my god's hands," and for that journey to be believable, is quite remarkable.

A few favorite quotes (I had to leave out lots of good ones because of spoilers):

She knew he had both hated and loved those cousins who were now beyond both love and hate. p. 97

Expecting better of royal closets, Costis went to bed disappointed. p. 302

Costis was puzzling through the convolutions of human relationships, which were so unlike the neatly arranged patterns in a fireside story. p. 307

If we truly trust no one, we cannot survive. p. 331



* the technical term for this series is the Queen's Thief series, but I've never managed to get behind that one.


Book source: my personal library
Previous posts: The Thief; The Queen of Attolia
by Megan Whalen Turner

Reviewing this book is going to be annoying, for the simple reason that I can say even less about it than I could for The Thief without revealing huge massive spoilers for both books. Nonetheless, I will make a valiant attempt.

When The Queen of Attolia begins, Gen is hiding in Attolia's palace. I can't tell you why he's there, but I can tell you that it doesn't end well. Not. at. all. Which leads me to part of why I love Megan Whalen Turner so much--she does terrible things to her characters. I know that sounds awful, but I mean it. She really makes gutsy moves. Something really awful happens to Gen in the first part of this book and (okay spoiler ahoy, and I'm sorry but I have to say it) it never gets undone. Oh, Gen learns to live with it in his own...Gen-ish way, but Turner never takes the easy route, never has Moira come down from the clouds on a band of sunlight to fix things (in-joke, for those of you who are already fans).

Gen from The Thief is a wonderful character. Funny, horribly flawed, and always hiding something from someone. Gen from The Queen of Attolia is that character grown up in amazing ways. He's still funny, he's still horribly flawed, and he'll never stop hiding something from someone. And yet, my heart breaks every time I read this book because of how wonderful he is and difficulty of the choices he is faced with. There's another amazing characterization in Queen that I can't really talk about because it would be too spoilery, but I will say that Turner had to walk a very fine line and, in my opinion, she absolutely delivered on it (I know others who do disagree with me somewhat on that count).

In short: I love this book beyond measure. If you have not already read The Thief, go and do so at once. Or I'll send the dancing bears after you.

Quotes:

"You would only come sneaking back through my palace, leaving notes beside my breakfast dishes." p. 20

"The magus was reminded of a bear, chained in a pit, albeit a small bear." p. 87

"'I came to steal his magus.'
'You can't,' said the magus in question.
'I can steal anything,' Eugenides corrected him." p. 106

"Nothing I've ever learned from a priest makes me think I know just what the gods are or what they can accomplish, but, Gen, I know my decisions are my own responsibility. If I am the pawn of the gods, it is because they know me so well, not because they make up my mind for me." p. 171

"She sat perfectly still, looking at him without moving as his words dropped like water into dry earth." p. 360


Book source: my personal library
Megan Whalen Turner's homepage

A great interview with Turner! (note spoilers)

Yum

Sep. 4th, 2008 02:36 pm
So I just made shortbread. It's ridiculously simple and the only expensive part is the butter. Which is better for you anyway, but I understand if you're like, I'm not going to blow a pound of butter on one thing!

But it's so gooooooood.

Anyway, the recipe:

1 lb butter (REAL BUTTER NOT MARGARINE)
4 c flour
1 c sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together by hand. I recommend doing this literally by hand as it's much simpler. Especially if you forgot to soften your butter.

Mix in flour 1/2 c at a time. At a certain point, you won't be able to use your spoon/fork anymore and you'll want to go back to the hand mixing. If you're me, you might never have left. Anyway, when the dough leaves the sides of the bowl, you're good.

Press in a pan. Score the top lightly and prick the squares with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Turn off oven and leave sitting in for 10 more minutes. Cut while still warm and soft. That's it. Seriously.

If you feel like splurging on the butter, you can't go wrong with shortbread.


In other news, I have ordered Twilight from the library. I want to see what all the fuss is about. Although I suspect it'll be one of those things where I go, "WHY am I doing this to myself? Why am I still reading this?" And then keep reading.

In still other news, we have had some seriously gorgeous weather the past few days. Which is good because, make no mistake my friends, the rain, it is coming. I enjoy the rain for the first month. Although I left my umbrella at home, so we'll see how much I actually enjoy it this year.
This is an utterly shameless plug for my forum The Reader's Corner. If you are a Christian girl who likes to read you should join it. Because we have cyber chocolate and lots of discussions about books and we even read them together sometimes. (This last one has kind of died--I think we picked the wrong book. Anyway, enough admin ramblings.)

So join. *glares in everyone's direction*

Incidentally, love my user pic. :D And if you know what I'm talking about you get cyber chocolate.

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