Tag Archives: Robin McKinley

EXPIRED | Deal Alert: Humble Bundle Women of Sci-Fi & Fantasy

So sorry to totally spam posts today, but I just realized that Humble Bundle has a really nice collection of sci-fi/fantasy books by female authors available right now–but it’s only available for the next 5 days. So late notice, sorry. Anyhow, the bundle includes authors such as Robin McKinley, Octavia E. Butler, Elizabeth Hand, Kate Elliott, Diana Pharaoh Francis, and Nalo Hopkinson. Personally, I’ve read the McKinley books, and the bundle would be worth it just for those books alone. But several of the other ones look interesting too. Oh, and the highest tier ($15) includes a Jane Yolen! If you’re interested, you can check it out here.

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Sunshine

Author: Robin McKinleysunshine

My rating: 5 of 5

Rae’s mom would be perfectly happy if her daughter spent her entire life being your average barely-graduated-high-school baker with a slightly bad-boy boyfriend (maybe husband at some point)–and she would especially be happy if Rae completely avoided all contact with or allusions to her dad’s entire side of the family with their dangerous magic handling. As a matter of fact, Rae (or Sunshine as she’s known to just about everyone for her obsession with sunlight) would have been just as happy to make giant cinnamon rolls and millions of muffins for the rest of her life too. But things change, and one evening’s drive out to the lake (which should have been perfectly safe) leads to a traumatic encounter with a group of vampires, and perhaps more significantly with herself and her own latent, untrained powers. And suddenly, Sunshine’s life is irrevocably changed in more ways that she even realizes.

Sunshine is pretty much one of my favorite books ever–one of those that I’ve read so many times that I only let myself read it every few years anymore. I mean really, awesome urban fantasy, vampires, and cinnamon rolls–what’s not to love? Plus of course, Robin McKinley is an incredible author; one of the best, in my opinion. The flow, the language, the atmosphere, the characters, and the interworkings of all the tiny details of this story are just perfectly crafted to work together and really allow the reader the fullest possible experience of Sunshine’s story. I love Sunshine’s character. It’s not often that I find a brassy, relatively-uneducated character like her that I really relate to, but she’s pretty much wonderful and so human. I also find it fascinating that McKinley is basically re-telling the story of Beauty and the Beast (for the third time) in this book–using a vampire as the Beast! That’s pretty novel, I must say, but it works brilliantly, especially in the setting she’s built here. Also notable, if you’ve read many of her other books, this one’s a bit racier than most–sex comes up multiple times throughout, and there’s some more adult language at places as well–so I’d say this is a 16+ (although I was definitely younger the first time I read this, and was duly shocked at times. Oops.). For adults who enjoy vampire stories (in a non-Twilight sense, promise) and even more for those who like solid urban fantasy, I think Sunshine is an incredible story that I wish a lot more people would read. Highly recommended.

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The Ultimate Book Tag

Thanks to Summer at xingsings for tagging me. 😀 This is my first time participating in a “tag” sort of post, so please excuse any mistaken etiquette, etc. This looks like fun!

  1. Do you get sick while reading in the car? Unfortunately, yes. It was one of my greatest childhood disappointments that I couldn’t really read on long car trips.
  2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why? That’s a hard one. . . . There are a lot of authors who have signature styles and quirks, but completely unique? David Levithan is probably the closest to really unique that I can think of right now–he has a distinctive flavor and also does all sorts of interesting things with person, punctuation, capitalization, and suchlike. I really enjoy that about his writing.
  3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer. Harry Potter, obviously. Does this question even need asking? 1. British, not American. So much cooler. 2. So much quirky, fun magic–I love the spells! 3. Characters that grow and that are more focused on saving the world than on “the one,” whatever that means. And moreover, characters who have all sorts of credible imperfections and interesting perspectives. Should I go on?
  4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books)? I actually don’t usually, except to go to the library–in which case, just books. Otherwise, my books stay safely in my room or get carried by hand.
  5. Do you smell your books? I love the smell of books, although the smell of books that have sat on the shelf too long makes me sad. So . . . I guess I do? Not, like, obsessively sniffing or anything, though.
  6. Books with or without little illustrations? I love both! I guess it just depends on whether having illustrations suits the story or not. I adore books with good illustrations (and yes, graphic novels/manga/picture books are up there in my favorites), but if the illustrations don’t suit the story, I’d rather they just not be there at all.
  7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing? I think a lot of the series I read as a little kid were that way (American Girl, Mandie, The Boxcar Children, and suchlike). It’s not that they were terrible, they were just produced in such volume or to fit such a particular mold that they really just weren’t a full story. It was actually pretty disappointing to get to the point where I realized that.
  8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share! I can’t think of anything particularly humorous. I guess most folks around here thought I was an odd child for always having my nose buried in a book, though. Not exactly normal in small-town NC.
  9. What is the tiniest book on your shelf? Well . . . the shortest is The Restaurant of Many Orders by Kenji Miyazawa, but the narrowest is The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. Take your pick.
  10. What is the thickest book on your shelf? I guess technically The Lord of the Rings has the most pages, although The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Azumanga Daioh give it a run for its money just because of how they’re printed.
  11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author? Blogging here and some occasional technical writing for work is about the limit for me. I’d like to envision myself as an author, but honesty forces me to admit I probably don’t have the talent. Sadness. I’m relying on all you amazing people out there who truly have a skill for writing!
  12. When did you get into reading? My parents read to me when I was just a baby, really. I think I’ve been into reading since before I can remember. 🙂
  13. What is your favorite classic book? That’s a hard one . . . it’s a toss-up between The Lord of the Rings and The Cat in the Hat. 😉
  14. In school what was your best subject Language Arts/English?  So . . . I also don’t really get this question. English and all the related courses (Literature, Speech, etc.) were probably my best subjects generally, although I also did really well in my computer and business classes. Math, not so much.
  15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated, what would you do? Depends on who gave it to me. If it were someone who wouldn’t ask/notice, I’d politely accept, then sometime later pass it on. If they’d notice or care that I gave it away, I’d probably keep it. How superficial, right?
  16. (Apparently Question 16 was supposed to be here, but now it’s disappeared?) Should we make up our own question here? . . . Or not.
  17. What is a bad habit you always do (besides rambling) while blogging? I tend to not be clear enough in what I mean . . . but I’m scared of being too specific and either boring folks or giving away too much of the story! What to do?
  18. What is your favorite word? At the moment, “abundant,” although that’s likely to change at any time.
  19. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above? Um, I think I’d define myself as a geek and an otaku more than any of these . . . maybe sort of a nerd? Labels are highly over-rated.
  20. Vampires or Fairies? Why? Why not both? I mean, at the moment, fairies would win my vote just because a lot of the vampire stuff that’s been popular recently is junk. But what about Robin McKinley’s Sunshine and Vampire Knight and even the Vladimir Todd books? On the other hand, you’ve got incredible stories like Curse of the Thirteenth Fey and The Earl and the Fairy, plus a whole lot of more classic tales. I vote for a world where vampires and fairies have equal representation, I guess.
  21. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why? Angels, totally. Powerful messengers of God sent to fight the forces of darkness, possessing qualities little known or understood by man? Yes, indeed. Shapeshifters . . . cool and all, but still. (And by the way, are we talking, like Star Trek’s Odo sort of shapeshifters or more like weres? Although my answer’s the same, either way.) Still, a world with both would be even more interesting.
  22. Spirits or Werewolves? Why? Again, more definition, please? I mean, I love a good ghost story (I’m reading one now), so if that’s what’s meant by “spirits,” that would probably be my choice. But, I’ve heard some pretty creepy and amazing stories about weres too. (I think Lish McBride has made awesome use of weres in her books! And Saki’s werewolf short story is utterly awfully horrifying.) Again, as with the above two questions I think having the option of both makes a world that’s more interesting–and why not if it’s a fantasy anyhow?
  23. Zombies or Vampires? Why?  Hey, isn’t it supposed to be Zombies vs. Unicorns? Anyhow, while I have heard some good zombie stories, the idea of rotting flesh and eating brains is totally not appealing. At least most of the vampires I’ve seen keep themselves half tidy.
  24. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love? Honestly, both get old really quickly, but I’M SO SICK OF THE LOVE TRIANGLE! What’s wrong with just writing a cute, sweet story? See Usotsuki Lily–it can be done.
  25. And finally: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in? I think I’ve mentioned before, but I really don’t care for romances as a general rule. Really, I’d rather read a kids’ book that’s all fun and adventure and crazy fantasy without even getting into the romance.

And . . . I confess, I’m too lazy to tag anyone specifically today, so: If you’re reading this and it seems interesting, consider yourself tagged. 😀

 

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Shadows

Author: Robin McKinley

When Maggie’s mom brings home Val and announces they’re getting married, Maggie’s world start to crumble. Well, who wouldn’t be a bit put out by a new stepfather with no fashion sense and a collection of looming shadows that no one but you can see? In a place where magic was cut out at the genetic level years ago, Val screams old magic, something Maggie may never adjust to. Little could she imagine that he may be the least of her problems and that the world she knows might be only a shadow of reality.

Shadows has got to be one of the best books to come out this year. You need to read it. Seriously. The plot is very imaginative, with a nice blend of science fiction, fantasy, romance, and family–with a good dash of animal story and humor thrown in. McKinley has gone to great efforts to build a viable world and a gripping cast of characters–which they are, gripping that is. I love all of them, Maggie’s friend Takahiro in particular. And all the animal (normal and not so much–and the algebra book) are wonderful characters in themselves. The one challenge of this book is that the first chapter or two could seem a bit slow because McKinley’s building a lot of character development and back-story. This is typical for her writing and is totally worth the effort to read through–the back-story is interesting in itself, and it contributes significantly to the story later on. So yeah. Incredible story. Read it.

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