Smugglivus Smugglivus Feats of Strength

Ana’s Smugglivus 2014 Feats of Strength

The Feats of Strength are an integral part of our annual Smugglivus Tradition. In previous years, the Feats of Strength were a challenge in which we dared each other to read a book that we knew was so far beyond the other’s comfort zone as to put it in another galaxy altogether. This year, we changed the rules: we each get to read and review 7 books (including one Old School Wednesdays, one What She Said book and now one Joint) and with the following TWIST: each review can contain no more than 50 words. For people like us whose reviews are generally written with no less than 800 words and often with more than 1000, this is a true Feat of Strength!

This is Ana’s turn! Wish us luck.

WHAT SHE SAID:. Thea’s original review HERE.

dead-witchTitle: Dead Witch Walking

Author: Kim Harrison

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Harper
Publication date: July 2004
MMP: 416 pages

All the creatures of the night gather in “the Hollows” of Cincinnati, to hide, to prowl, to party … and to feed.

Vampires rule the darkness in a predator-eat-predator world rife with dangers beyond imagining — and it’s Rachel Morgan’s job to keep that world civilized.

A bounty hunter and witch with serious sex appeal and an attitude, she’ll bring ’em back alive, dead … or undead.

50-word Review: Competent and fun but slightly boring (overlong?) Urban Fantasy with witches, vampires (tired) and a funny pixie. Loved Rachel and Ivy’s complicated (romantic?) relationship and nothing else much. My first Rachel Morgan book and probably my last too as I was rather meh about the whole affair. Sorry, Thea.

Rating: 5 – Meh


Deep Secret Deep Secret UK

Title: Deep Secret

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: First published in 1997
Paperback: 526 pages

A fantasy adventure about saving the universe one world at a time from Diana Wynne Jones. The companion novel to the bestselling The Merlin Conspiracy.

Magids look after all worlds, steer them towards magic, and keep history happening. But Rupert Venables’ mentor has just died, and as the junior magid on earth he has to find a replacement while also trying to find the lost heir of a collapsing empire, worlds away. Rupert interweaves the fate lines to get all the candidates together at a sci-fi fantasy convention, and havoc ensues as they all converge on a very strange hotel, where everything is always linked, the walls keep moving, people are trying to kill him, and nothing is as it seems…a magical, epic story from the Godmother of fantasy.

50-word Review: No one writes multiverse Fantasy like Diana Wynne Jones and Deep Secret is fantastic, thoughtful, hilarious and even, romantic. Slightly uneven in terms of narrative which was shared unequally between the two mains characters when Maree was clearly the Best Thing Ever. Can’t wait to read companion, The Merlin Conspiracy.

Rating: 8 – Excellent


The Silence of MedairTitle: The Silence of Medair

Author: Andrea K. Höst

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Self published
Publication date: November 2010
Paperback: 240 pages

Time stole victory.

Medair an Rynstar returned too late to drive back the Ibisian invasion. Centuries too late.

When friend and enemy have become the same thing, what use are the weapons Medair planned to use to protect her Empire? There is no magic, no artefact, no enchanted trinket which can undo the past.

But no matter how Medair wishes to hide from the consequences of her failure, there are those who will not allow her the luxury of denying the present. Her war is already lost, but she carries weapons which could change the course of new battles.

With the skirmishes of war beginning, and hunters in near pursuit, it is her conscience Medair cannot escape. Whose side should she be on? What is she really running from?

50-word Review: This one is amazing for the premise alone: Heroine goes on Quest to find Magic Object to Save her Kingdom from invasion, succeeds. Decides to rest, tragically wakes up 500 years later when everything is changed. It’s all about failure, guilt and change and adapting. Needs more than 50 words.

Rating: 8 – Excellent


dOWNLOADEDTitle: Downloaded

Director: Alex Winter

Genre: Documentary

A documentary that explores the downloading revolution; the kids that created it, the bands and the businesses that were affected by it, and its impact on the world at large.

50-word Review: Fantastic documentary about the invention of Napster and how it affected the music industry effectively starting a revolution that changed the world. Want everybody in the Publishing industry to watch it. It has multiple viewpoints as well as fascinating and educational look at piracy, outdated commercial models and innovative creativity.

Rating: Excellent


The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow PlaceTitle: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

Author: Julie Berry

Genre: Historical, YA

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication date: September 2014
Hardcover: 351 pages

There’s a murderer on the loose—but that doesn’t stop the girls of St. Etheldreda’s from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.

The students of St. Etheldreda’s School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings.

50-word Review: Seven schoolgirls and best friends must hide a murder most foul in their boarding school or else go back home to their parents. Fun if slightly weird comedy of manners and farce with a murder mystery on the side. Witty if flawed (too fast? Too silly?) Victorian romp with ladies.

Rating: 6 – Good


Heaven's QueenTitle: Heaven’s Queen

Author: Rachel Bach

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: April 2014
Paperback: 378 pages

From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell’s doomed ship, Devi Morris’ life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that’s eating her alive.

Now, with the captain missing and everyone — even her own government — determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi’s never been one to shy from a fight, and she’s getting mighty sick of running.

It’s time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.

50-word Review: Fantastic trilogy-ender to the Paradox series. Main character kick-ass Devi is caught between Bad Aliens and possibly Good Aliens and needs to make Difficult Choices. Add the complicated romantic relationship with lover Rupert and this final book is packed with action and romance, ending a great series with a bang.

Rating: 7 – Very Good


The_Rift_Part_1_coverTitle: The Rift

Author: Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Gurihiru (illustrator)

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Publication date: December 2014
Paperback: 210 pages

Avatar Aang asks his friends to help him honor Yangchen’s Festival–one of the highest Air Nomad holidays, which hasn’t been celebrated in over one hundred years. But cryptic visits from the spirit of Avatar Yangchen herself lead Aang to discover a jointly owned Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom refinery–operating on land sacred to the Airbenders! Is this simply a case of corporate greed or is something more mysterious happening?

50-word Review: Another great Avatar-comic, featuring Toph and Aang on different sides of a problem with Toph’s – the greatest earthbender of all time – arc as the main focus. It is also a fabulous bridge between the world of Avatar and the world of Korra with the beginnings of industrialisation. Cried loads.

Rating: 7 – Very Good

Final Thoughts:

This was a great round of feats: I liked all these books to some extent. Avatar: the Rift, Deep Secret and The Silence of Medair were by far my favourites. I read Avatar on a plane and ugly-cried multiple times embarrassing myself in front of people. Deep Secret is yet another fabulous Diana Wynne Jones book and I already got the companion novel – The Merlin Conspiracy – lined up for a read soon. As for The Silence of Medair, as soon as I was done with it, I bought and devoured the sequel Voice of the Lost – they are another amazing offering by Andrea K Host and well worth a read.

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  • Angie
    January 3, 2015 at 12:52 am

    I felt the same about the first Rachel Morgan. Can’t bring myself to read more. I do want to give the Host a try. I had middling feelings about her And All the Stars. But I continue to hear great things about all of her titles.

  • Angie
    January 5, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    I also mean to say, “Hi!” I miss chatting with you two.

  • Ana
    January 6, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Hiiiiiii *hugs*

    I know, right? We don’t seem to talk that much anymore.

    As for Andrea K Host’s books, please maybe give the Touchstone trilogy a try?

  • Angie
    January 6, 2015 at 11:58 am

    I actually bought the Touchstone trilogy awhile back, I think! Must go investigate.

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