Entries in trees (9)


Echoes of Understorey

So at first, this book was a bit jarring because it wasn't about Unar, the MC of the first book in the trilogy. But it appears that the setting (and secondary characters) are the only real constant with these books. The final book looks like it will be about yet another character.

Which is fine, especially since the MC of this book, Imeris, who was just a baby in Crossroads of Canopy, is a much more compelling character than Unar ever was. Where Unar was arrogant and self-righteous, Imeris is a practical, humble badass.

Everything about this book is so much stronger than the first. And since it follows a new MC, you can read Echoes of Understorey without having read Crossroads of Canopy and probably not be confused at all. Unar makes an appearance, as do many of the side characters from her journey. The familiarity is nice. But Imeris is a much stronger character, not just in terms of her abilities, but in terms of the author's craft.

Anyway, Imeris is out with one goal in mind: to kill the body-snatching sorceress who was at the root of Unar's problems in book one. A lot of stuff gets in Imeris's way, most notably being swept up in a historic Hunt called by the rulers of Canopy.

Imeris is quite possibly the best warrior alive in her world, but she is humble about it and just wants to do her duty to rid her world of the sorceress and then maybe take up farming like Unar has. Unlike Unar, Imeris doesn't want to be a legend at all, though she doesn't shun her legendary status once she achieves it. She uses it for good.

Like with the first book ending with Unar on a new, vastly different adventure, Imeris finds herself on the cusp of something new and exciting. The next book will focus on her brother Leaper, but I hope to see some of Imeris in her new role.

Anyway, the setting is superb, the action is excellent and the characters are all wonderful and well-crafted. Highly recommend checking this out!


Crossroads of Canopy

So this book has a society of people living in the tops of mountain-sized trees, so you know anything I have to say about it is going to be heavily skewed by my tree nerdiness.

The setting really is the best thing about the book, to be honest. It's richly imagined and described and I love the heck out of it. Of course I do! I want to live in Canopy forever and ever! Seriously though, trees that are MANY THOUSANDS OF FEET TALL!!!


And that's about all that's good about this book. There's not much in the way of plot and the main character is awful. There are some side characters that I like all right, but the story is from the POV of Unar who is naive and deeply selfish. And whoadang arrogant.

This is also one of those books where most of the problems can be solved by people just sitting down and actually talking to each other. When books derive most of their conflict from this, it really truly annoys me.

The third act picks up significantly and Unar finally realizes what a steaming turd she is. And then she's driven not by arrogance but despair, except that she's kind of mopey, which is a touch annoying.

Anyway, anyone who loves trees as much as I do will probably like this book just fine, you'll find the setting is enough to buoy you through the dull bits. Otherwise, probably give this book a pass.


Sea of Shadows

Kelley Armstrong is just finishing her stint as the KPL writer-in-residence, and I've been to most of the writing talks she's given. They've all be informative and I'm excited to apply what I've learned as a writer. It also helped introduce me to more of what Kelley writes.

I've always known her as an urban fantasy/werewolf-vampire writer, and that stuff is just not my jam. But then I discovered she's got so much more. The last talk she gave, she spoke about how she went from the idea stage to a first draft. It was excellent! Sea of Shadows was one of the books she used as an example. Hearing the inspiration (look up "forest of trees"), I knew I had to read this book.

And I did. In a day. And I interrupted reading the second book in the trilogy so that I could write this review. So, yes, I liked the book as much as I'd hoped I would.

The book is YA epic fantasy about twin sisters with rare gifts, tasked with soothing and battling spirits. Things go wrong quickly and the sisters are jolted out of the world they'd loved and known. There are monsters, a terrifying journey, and new friends made along the way. The world-building is top notch and the characters are well-actualized. I didn't relate to any of the characters, but none of them were necessarily unlikeable.

I burned through the first book and now I'm already nearly halfway through the second. I expect to finish the entire trilogy by the middle of next week. I definitely recommend it! It's just so well crafted.

I have taken the summer to concentrate on writing. I recently finished a draft of the first book in the Blueshift trilogy. I'm going to let it sit for a month before I do more revisions. I'm hoping to get it to beta readers by the end of the summer. In the meantime, I'm refilling my creative well with a lot of reading. I've read 2 books this week alone. So my blog will probably be a little busier than normal this month.


The Beauty of Trees

This is mostly a photo book, one of those coffee table things, and it's definitely worth picking up for the pictures (author is Michael Jordan, it's a British book). So many lovely pictures! And an excellent variety of trees from across the globe.

But that's where the nice things I have to say about the book end. The info side-bars were often contradictory to the descriptive paragraphs. As an editor, I'm particularly cranky about this sort of thing in books.

And then there were the common names, which were all presented as what the common name is in the UK, which doesn't make a lick of sense on a book sold internationally. If common names are going to be involved at all, it would make sense to me to include the common name used where the tree is a native species.

The one that bothered me the most was wellingtonia. Which is apparently the common name of sequoiadendron giganteum (or giant sequoias, as they're known absolutely everywhere but in this author's mind). I rather fiercely love those trees and the whole entry on them was bordering on rubbish.

And another thing that bothered me was that the trees are presented in alphabetical order in the book as per binomial nomenclature (Latin names), but the table of contents lists them by their common names, making it a headache to try to find anything. Especially when your favourite tree is given a name no one has ever heard of!

While the information in the book is fascinating, all of these little errors pile up to make me wonder if much of the information is true. But the pictures. They are worth it alone. Stunning imagery! Except for the sequoias. So here, have a sequoia picture (that little purple blob at the bottom is me).

Spoiler: These trees are the "little" ones. ;)


The Book of Phoenix

This was another book I read with giant magic trees in it, but I didn't know there would be any when I started it. Still, it's a great read! It's the prequel to Okorafor's book Who Fears Death, which I haven't read yet but really want to.

The book is what I would call science-fantasy set about 100 years in the future, when humankind has adjusted to climate change (much of NYC has been deluged, with skyscrapers towering straight up out of the water) but is still just as greedy and morally bankrupt. There are seven towers in the US where the most horrific experiments are being carried out on humans, mostly people from Africa.

One of these people is a woman aptly named Phoenix who is only 2 years old but appears as though she's 40. She's strong with an adult's intelligence, but also compliant with her captors/creators. Until the man she loves, a fellow abomination named Saeed, sees the truth of where they live and dies.

Phoenix escapes while trying to find answers about Saeed, but answers only lead to more questions and her search brings her across the ocean to Africa and back to the United States. Her powers continue to multiply and her body changes in amazing ways as she seeks to end the soulless corporation that treats her and her companions as nothing more than things to be discarded.

There is a lot of excellent commentary in the subtext of this book, as well as some beautiful imagery. I love Phoenix's strength of character, even if she is almost intolerably impulsive. The setting is rich and fascinating and the supporting characters are an excellent complement to Phoenix.

It's the kind of story that stays with you afterward. I'm definitely looking forward to reading Who Fears Death.