Monthly Archives: May 2010

Quick After-Battle Triple Chocolate Cake

Quick After-Battle Triple Chocolate Cake

from Patricia C. Wrede’s Book of Enchantments

I’ve been wanting to make this cake since I first read about it in the back of the book. If you don’t happen to own a copy, you can see it through google books. I’d transcribe it here, but frankly, it’s a lot funnier if you read it in the original format.

The cake is somewhere between a cake and a brownie; it would be perfectly complimented by a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, or perhaps some raspberry syrup. (Mmmm.) The recipe suggests topping it with whipped cream, which would certainly go well with it.  I’ve got a few more pictures relating to the process of making it. (I enjoy taking pictures of food and food making)

It was chocolatey and delicious. Just look at all that chocolate yum:

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Filed under Not a Book Review

The Book of Enchantments (Anthology)

Wrede, Patricia C. The Book of Enchantments (1996). 234 Pages. Magic Carpet Books. $5.95

Shortly after I read the Enchanted Forest Chronicles the first time around, I came across a little red book with a picture of a snake-thing on it. I thought it was weird, but I was on a short-story anthology kick, and I knew I liked the author. (I apparently also like the editor- Jane Yolen, though I didn’t know that at the time.) Unfortunately, like most of Ms. Wrede’s other books, it has been republished in the last decade with a lousy little-kid cover. The cover aside, it’s a good book. There are ten stories in this book, and I must admit, I liked some better than others.

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Humor, Realistic Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Sirena

Napoli, Donna Jo. Sirena (2000). 210 Pages. Scholastic. $4.99

As Greece gathers their troops to go to war with Troy, the mermaids of the Mediterranean Sea sing their siren-songs to attract men. Sirena is one of these mermaids, doomed to the death of a mortal unless she can “love”* a man. While the other mermaids thoughtlessly lure men to their deaths, Sirena sees the inherent flaws; they kill many men, they are hated, and they are costing lives for the sake of their own.

After an especially brutal scene where men beat a mermaid to death- and bash in her head and ribcage- and scream at the “whores” before they die, Sirena realizes that something might be wrong about this situation. (Gee, ya think?) She ventures out on her own- which is strange, because mermaids are social creatures – since none of the others seem to care that they are murderers.

She finds herself sharing an island with a man** who has been abandoned by his comrades. Of course, we can all see where this is going; she takes care of him, keeps him alive, and eventually gains her immortality through him. The two are “married”, and live in a strange sort of harmony. He spends his time on land, exploring the deserted island, missing humanity. She spends her time in the sea, dreaming about a different future.

Eventually, Sirena must make an important decision, one which will change both of their lives forever.

The story overlaps with The Illiad, a story which I love. The setting is also pretty good- the Mediterranean is a great backdrop for a fantastic*** tale. However, I am frustrated by the volume of mythology- it seems overwhelming at times- and how it sometimes seems forced. I dislike the point of view- first person present- and do not feel that it helps the story, third person limited would have been more comfortable to read.

The Quick Version:

I feel like this story would have sat better with me if the ending had been different. I like happy endings, or at least the sort where it’s clear that they will eventually be happy. This is not one of those endings. Occasionally, I feel like I’m drowning in mythology, and I’ve got a pretty solid grip on it. It gets roughly a 2.5 out of 5, because I’m a stickler for endings- they are the part which sticks with you the most, after all.

If you actually want to read it, you can get it on Amazon or through Swaptree.

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*By “love”, this book really means to have sex with. And when they have sex, it is vague- how do a man and a fish copulate?

** Philoctetes, for those of you who are mythology-savvy.

*** In the sense of “fantasy-like” rather than “very good”

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Filed under Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, High Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Up in Smoke

MacAlister, Katie. Up In Smoke (2008). 328 Pages. Signet. $7.99

The Silver Dragons: Book Two || Dragons Universe Book Six

This book did not have me laughing as much as others have in the past. In fact, a lot of the scenes which I think were meant to be funny were really just… painful. I’ve never really liked Jim- he annoyed me more often than he made me laugh. Magoth is just… too annoying to really be a scary villain.

May has been bound to Magoth since she was created, and it has caused her nothing but pain and frustration and trouble. Until she met Gabriel, however, she had managed to put up with it. But when Magoth tried to give her an order which would hurt Gabriel and the dragons, May refused it. The most creative punishment Magoth could come up with is giving May the role of Demon Lord’s Consort. (Perhaps because she loathes him so much that it’s actually punishment to spend time around him).

Gabriel surprises May when he tells her to go through with it, and actually become Magoth’s Consort. It would allow Magoth access to the human world, but it would also mean that May could be with Gabriel, fulfilling her duties as a Wyvern’s Mate.

That’s just the first few chapters. It moves quickly, and is full of drama. It was strange, because MacAlister’s books are usually funny, but I didn’t laugh more than a few times. The story is intense, and leaves you wanting more, but concludes at least reasonably well.

The Quick Version:

This book is awesome, but it’s not as funny as others. Certain characters remain annoying, a few new characters are annoying. The drama and suspense in this one are pretty impressive, and really make it a page turner. It only gets a 3.5 out of 5, because there’s a bit too much identity crisis.

If you want to read it, get it through Amazon or Swaptree.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Urban Fantasy

Playing with Fire

Macalister, Katie. Playing with Fire (2008). 331 Pages. Signet. $6.99

The Silver Dragons: Book One || Dragons Universe Book Five

I was more than a little worried when I picked up this book that I would find a repeat of the preceding series (girl finds out about being Wyvern’s Mate, girl resists, girl runs, dragon chases, happily ever after-ish). Instead, we get a new story, a new heroine, and a continuation of the unresolved plots from the Aisling Grey: Guardian series. The Silver Dragons series does not stand alone, and it is important that you take the time to read the Aisling Grey series first. Things are explained, but will make a lot more sense if you’ve read the first half. Anyway, all the familiar faces are back in this new series- which is really only “new” insofar as our heroine is new. Aisling and Drake are both present, and important to the series. Jim is there- and slightly less annoying now that he’s not in every scene, and of course Gabriel, Wyvern of the Silver Dragons, is there, as is Kostya.

May Northcott is a naiad’s doppelganger- made from shadow and common sense. She is also a top-notch thief, but because she is bound to a Demon Lord, she must steal whatever he wants. Her most recent mission has gotten May into far more trouble than it was really worth, and has gotten Thief Takers — magical bounty hunters — on her tail. Unfortunately, in her effort to return an incredibly valuable item which she took by accident, May got caught in the back garden of a Green Dragon house (and of course there is a huge misunderstanding; we all know that Drake is incredibly overprotective).

It is there that May meets Gabriel, and there that they find out that she drinks Dragons Blood (again, you remember this from the first series) and they learn that she is a Wyvern’s Mate. In fact, because doppelgangers are made, not born, she is effectively a loophole in the curse against the Silver Dragons. Unlike Aisling, May does not continue fighting and trying to get away from Gabriel; she realizes early on just how attracted to him she is, and becomes his Mate very quickly. Very early on she is officially Gabriel’s Mate. However, being bound to the Demon Lord Magoth complicates things, and she finds herself facing a hugely important decision, one that will affect the rest of her immortal life.

The Quick Version:

This may have a different series-title, but it is definitely a continuation of the first set. It does not stand alone, and if you really are interested, I would advise going back and reading the Aisling Grey: Guardian set. However, May is another strong heroine, one who you find yourself rooting for, and one who does not do the wishy-washy indecision that so many romance heroines are tainted by. We get a bit more of Aisling and Drake, and a lot more of Kostya, as well as a few (vague and confused) references to where the hell Chuan Ren and Fiat have gone. As a continuation to the original story, this book gets a 4/5 (if it was a standalone, it would get a 2, because a lot is not explained again).

If you’ve already read the other books, you can pick this one up on Amazon or through Swaptree.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Urban Fantasy