Thursday, April 27, 2017

Twofer Review: "Legion" and "Skin Deep" by Brandon Sanderson (the Benevolent)

Legion and its sequel, Skin Deep are novellas written by Brandon Sanderson. Being that they're short-ish, I thought it a better idea to combine their reviews (even though they differ in rating) and not include anything spoilery so you can get a feel of what I thought of the series itself.

Stephen is a man with many hallucinations that are people (to him, at least) he refers to as 'aspects'. Aspects have names, families, skill sets, and identities beyond what Stephen feels he could dream up, but he nonetheless consults with them on multiple projects and/or cases he picks up as a kind of/sort of private investigator. He also has a mansion to keep his aspects happy in, a butler/driver, and a seemingly open schedule. Is there anything Stephen doesn't have?

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'Stephen Leeds, AKA 'Legion,' is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his 'aspects' are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society.'

In response to my very own rhetorical question, I have to say there is something that did bother me about dear Stephen. His aspects have almost off-the-wall sorts of personalities, while his own seems nonexistent. Sure, he's polite and snarky on occasion (in the first book, at least), but he seems there almost as a peacekeeper for his aspects. It's very hard for him to do anything without his aspects' inputs. He's the sort of mediocre/shadowy male lead I expect more from Neil Gaiman, to be quite honest.

Initially, it was hard for me to identify what was wrong about Legion to me. It was charming enough, creative enough, and mysterious enough to keep me engaged and reading, but somehow didn't measure up to enough in my book. Once I finished Legion's sequel, Skin Deep, I realized the problem- this is Diet Sanderson. I'm used to full fat, full sugar Fantasy Sanderson, and this being Urban Fantasy, well... it measures out to less in my estimation. I came to love urban fantasy later in my reading career, and though I do have favorite books in that genre, when I read something by Mr. Sanderson I want the works. Being that this is set in the "real world" and one of the key ingredients of the Sanderson works in my opinion is his worldbuilding, well- that's the problem, along with my high expectations of anything Mr. Sanderson writes.

Legion is a good, short urban fantasy novella that may have been better received by me if it had been penned by any other author. Skin Deep, meanwhile, felt like just a longer version of Legion, without as much of the aspects/characters that I loved in it. Both had good storylines, but I don't feel any sense of urgency in wanting another book in this series, despite Stephen's aspects charming me. If you like Gaiman-esque leads and find yourself craving urban fantasy, these novellas might suit you.

Legion Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a light urban fantasy that held my attention.

Skin Deep Rating: 2 of 5 Stars for a sequel that lacked the primary novella's zing.

Age Advisory (for Legion and Skin Deep): Ages 16+ for violence, racism, and the occasional stereotype.

Page Count: Legion is 88 pages, Skin Deep is 208 pages

Monday, April 24, 2017

SFF: The 5 Picture Books You Loved as a Kid

MonSunday Fun Five #74:

A Countdown of

The 5 Picture Books You Loved as a Kid

I can't recall if I did picture books or not before as a SFF theme, but these are some of the ones that helped me read when I didn't necessarily want to. Interestingly, all the books I remember best were published before 1950.

5. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco and William Nicholson (Illustrator)
A classic tale of a well-loved rabbit, but other than that I don't remember much about it- which is why I gave it a place at the bottom of my list. This is actually the oldest of the books, having first been published in 1922.

4. Corduroy by Don Freeman
I remember this a little better because I was absolutely enamored with the illustrations of the charming teddy bear (and it has a rather standout cover).

3. Goodnight Moon (Over the Moon #2) by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd (Illustrator)
This is an old standby of picture books, though I remember absolutely hating Runaway Bunny, because there was no point to the plot. This one, at least, had a bit of a seek and find aspect that made it more palatable to my peculiar childhood sensibilities.

2. Madeline (Madeline) by Ludwig Bemelmans
I loved Madeline so much I almost wished I was an orphan and could go live with her and the other girls. Her misadventures made for an interesting picture book.

1. King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian by Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis (Illustrations)
This book I liked best because I was obsessed with horses, and also it's a much longer story than any of the others (I think it's considered a chapter book, but the illustrations are gorgeous). I liked many of Marguerite Henry's books, but this one was my favorite.

Which picture books did you like best as a kid?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fortnightly Update #32: Feline Junk Food and a Rereading Spree

Recent Acquisitions (or the Piling of the-Piles):

the-pile Additions:

La La in the Library mentioned Dollar Tree book finds in one of her Monthly Mash posts. I often looked through the books at the Dollar Tree but never found any books I'd want to read, but I checked again after her post and found these two:

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Although I'm not technically doing Travel the World in Books this year (I've decided to forego all challenges until my health stops challenging me *hard stare at health*), I was intrigued when I learned it was set in Iceland and involved a murder mystery.

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin
This is a fictional account of the life of Anne Morrow, the wife of Charles Lindbergh. Given the turmoil involved with being a public figure in those days and the notorious kidnapping of their baby, I figured it would be a good book to pick up.

the-invisible-pile Additions:

There is a Brandon Sanderson Humble Bundle happening right now that has some novellas of his as well as audiobooks (which are cut up into parts of books- you have to buy the complete bundle to get a complete set of some of the books). I bought the $1+ one and got these novellas and short stories:

Legion (Legion #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Skin Deep (Legion #2) by Brandon Sanderson
The Emperor's Soul (Elantris) by Brandon Sanderson
Firstborn & Defending Elysium by Brandon Sanderson

Currently Reading:

Nothing- I'm trying to choose between starting a new book or finishing off the Night Prince series.

Finished These Books:

"Way Station"* by Clifford D. Simak
I just reviewed this book yesterday, but basically it's vintage sci-fi that's ahead of its time and somewhat solemn in tone.

Asterisks indicate a review, however- my review of Once Burned is the same, but I'd up the rating to 4 stars since I know now where Jeaniene Frost was going with her characterization of Vlad the Impaler (you read that right). When I read the first book for the first time, I thought the author may disappoint me as she had done in the past by having a hero who was violent/liked to play head-games with the heroine. That kind of hero I can really do without, which is why I never really finished the Night Huntress series even though I actually really liked At Grave's End (Night Huntress #3). I didn't find myself too drawn to that series, but when I saw this one I was willing to gamble that I'd like it because the main character is Vlad the Impaler.

I reread all these because I recently bought the final book in the series, Into the Fire (Night Prince #4) but I don't know if I can bring myself to read it just yet. Leila and Vlad have become one of my favorite paranormal romance pairings.

In My Life:

I have pretty much no health news, but I'm ready for my next appointment in early May.

George being a panda bear slash lethal tiger in repose

George, on the other hand, has become obsessed with the feline junk food known as Feline Greenies:

We've always had different kinds of cat treats you can buy at the grocery store for George, but after I bought Torrie and Leia some Greenies, I decided to even the score and get George a big box. George usually didn't care if we gave him treats with his food or not, but now he has become very demanding if he just gets cat food- he wants the Greenies too. I'm not sure if they actually clean a cat's teeth or not, but I know if I run out I'll be buying more- George has never liked a cat treat as much as these.

Since it's that day of the year, I'm recycling this from a previous year:

If you're wondering, that is a picture of a bunny bun (a family tradition- basically rolls with bunny faces made with raisins and expert use of the fork) on a white chocolate rabbit body. It isn't usually served like that, but I thought it was rather funny at the time.

Happy Easter! Do you have any tasty family traditions?

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