The evil Wood is stirring…

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik

Poor Agnieszka, she’s such a klutz, but at least everyone knows that the wizard who lives up the valley won’t choose her for his ten-year tribute. Until he does, and away she goes to live with the Dragon in his tower. The evil Wood is stirring, sending noxious poisons and vicious beasts into the villages to destroy crops and herds and kill residents. It becomes apparent that the Dragon is capable of fighting only a holding action against it, and then Agnieszka’s unsuspected talents begin to manifest themselves, bringing with them a hope of victory.

The best fantasy novels use their genre to echo events in the present day, and there is a lot going on here, nature versus technology, tradition versus innovation, environmental degradation disguised as murderous demons. Novik makes the villain credible and understandable and even sympathetic, and as much sinned against as sinning. The battle scenes went on too long but what the heck, you can skim those. This is a fully realized world, with a love story that is delightfully under the top, where the reveals make total sense within the construction of the plot–Novik never cheats–and the ending is sheer perfection. Recommended.

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Coffee Table on KBBI — Good reads for summer!

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I was a guest on Coffee Table on KBBI this morning, keeping company with Shady Grove Oliver and Terry Rensel as we talked about our favorite reads with people who call in. It was a blast, as always–thanks, guys!–and without further ado, here’s the books we talked about on the air.

Caroline
Cow Woman of Akutan (there’s a title for you) by Joan Brown Dodd
The Wind is not a River by Brian Payton

Lee
The Martian by Andy Weir
Astoria by Peter Stark (Lee compares this book to Alfred Lansing’s Endurance, one of the great survival stories.)
The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Trish
A Thousand Prayers by James Sweeny
The List, a collection of short stories also by James Sweeny

Shady
Shadow Show by Sam Weller
Hyperbole and a Half (another great title) by Allie Brosh
I’m a Stranger Here Myself and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (Dana inserts herself here with her favorite Bill Bryson book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid)
The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley (Shady says its a great adventure story).
All’s Fair by Mary Matalin and James Carville (Shady says it’s a horrible book but you won’t be able to put it down. I just ordered a copy from the Homer Bookstore, so sold!)
Among Others by Jo Walton
Also, she’s been reading a lot of Agatha Christie, and says it’s interesting to see how Christie’s craft evolved over the years (decades)[century]. If you have yet to encounter Dame Agatha, Dana recommends Murder on the Orient Express. (They made a terrific movie out of it, too.)

Murder on the Orient Express

Terry
A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin, a history Terry says reminded him of Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly.
Madam Secretary by Madeleine Albright (which Terry recommended in response to my recommendation of Read My Pins, see below)
Winston Churchill, Winston Churchill’s War Leadership and Churchill’s Political Philosophy, all by Sir Martin Gilbert. (Terry says these books are small, about 116 pages each, and a quick way into the life and character of Churchill, if you’ve always wanted to read about him but were daunted by the massive amount of books with his name in the title. Like me.)
The Martian by Andy Weir (Dana says she’s halfway through and loving it.)

Dana
If I Should Die by Matthew Frank
Sniper’s Honor by Stephen Hunter
The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Euphoria by Lily King
The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
The Plantagenets by Dan Jones
Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Read My Pins by Madeleine Albright
You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld
Dana says you can read her reviews of these books on her Goodreads page.

You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack

And a shoutout to the Homer Public Library’s Read 15 in ’15 reading challenge, because Shady and I and Terry are all participating. Click on the link to download a list of 150 books in various categories, and pick 15 of them to read in 2015. You can fill out an online form about a book you’ve read and leave a few comments, too. They’re printing out the comments and posting them on a bulletin board in the library so you can stop buy and get a few ideas. I’ve read seven from their list so far and every one has been a book I never heard of or something I wouldn’t have picked for myself. Fun.

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