Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Van Alen Legacy (Blue Bloods, Book 4) by Melissa De La Cruz (5/5 stars)

The fourth book in the Blue Bloods series was an excellent book. Book 5 is supposed to be titled "Misguided Angel" and will be out in the Fall of 2010. This book was an excellent addition to the series. I am liking this series more and more with every book I read in it.

The third book in the series really left us hanging. At the beginning of this book Schuyler and Oliver have been on the run for over a year, Mimi has joined the hunt for Jordan, and Bliss has been taken over by the Visitor and left to hide in a dark corner of her own body. Schuyler risks everything trying to contact the European Blue Bloods for support; her and Oliver can't stay on the run forever. Mimi concludes her hunt for Jordan and is struggling with whether or not she should bond with Jack. Bliss is trying to fight for the right to possess her own body as the Visitor (Morningstar) pushes her out. A number of the Blue Bloods assume their eternal angels persona's as the battle for Blue Blood survival escalates. Jack and Mimi's bonding is back on, but Mimi is finding herself curiously drawn to a traitor Silver Blood. Will they go through with the bonding? Are Schuyler and Jack really through; or will Jack change millennia of past by not bonding with Mimi? What about Oliver, is he destined to be a third wheel? The fight for survival is taken to yet a higher level as the Blue Bloods try to destroy all the Silver Bloods in their midst.

This was a great book. Action packed and fast-paced; the plot moved at a nice clip with some great twists thrown into the plot. You really love and empathize with all of the characters. I love that the plot is getting so much broader and that the whole of human civilization now rests on the Blue Bloods ability to fight both Morningstar and the Silver Bloods. This series is growing to epic proportions and I am loving all the detail and intricacy.

I have also been enjoying the past memories that come back to the characters and how their personalities change as they take on the persona of the immortal angel's soul that they represent. All in all I really don't have any complaints about this addition to the series and I am eagerly awaiting the next book! This is kind of surprising to me since I thought the first book in this series was just barely okay; the first book was all about fashion and high-living in Manhattan. Somehow though De La Cruz has taken this series to the point of actually being an epic story that matters; it is surprising to me and very satisfying. I have always liked Cruz's writing style, it is very readable but not at all dumbed down, she balances action and description well too.

So do you still get some of the high life in this book? Well, of course! Bliss attends some fashion shows and Mimi has to prepare for her bonding; so there is some high fashion and high living. I am just thrilled that Cruz was able to mix those things with some actual solid storytelling and a wonderful far-reaching plot; so creative and so entertaining. Now I have to wait a year for the next one!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst (4/5 stars)

This book is another retelling of the classic tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon". I got this through the Amazon Vine program which was ironic since last month I read "Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow" by Jessica Day George, another beautiful retelling of this classic tale. Overall I really liked this book; Durst did an excellent job at updating this tale to the modern day world. I have never read the original tale so I don't know how true this version of the story stays to the original.

Cassie is an 18 year old researcher at an arctic polar bear research facility. Since she was little her grandmother has told Cassie the story about her mother, the daughter of the North Wind and how she made a deal with the Polar Bear King. As she gets older, Cassie realizes that this is just a nice way of saying that her mother died. That is until one day she tracks one unusual polar bear across the ice pack. She finds that her grandmother's story was not a story but truth. Her mother may still be alive, but will she be brave enough to face the promise that will get her mother back?

This was a great re-telling. Cassie is a tough character and I liked her a lot. The Polar Bear King is also a wonderful character. The plot moved quickly and made this book an easy read that was tough to put down.

I also loved the mythos created around the Polar Bear King and the other beast-like keepers of souls. I am not sure if this was in the original story. But it was very creative and very different from how Jessica Day George dealt with the story in "Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow". Durst did an excellent job modernizing this tale. She worked in the researchers efforts seamlessly with the Polar Bear King's soul taking/giving duties. I love that she included modern cold weather technology and even little things like birth control. It was very well done and very creative.

Overall I liked this book a lot. Parts of this story remind me of "The Beauty and the Beast" too.

I didn't give this book 5 stars because even though I liked it it was not something I would read again. There were also some inconsistencies. Especially with Cassies's stages of pregnancy; I failed to understand how Cassie had morning sickness in her second trimester of pregnancy and not in her first, that was a little off. Also the second part of the book where Cassie goes seeking the Polar Bear King had a very different tone from the first part. All of the wonderful modernization that made the first half of the book so great fell off in the second half as the book transformed to a more traditional fairy tale.

A great story; I would recommend to those who like fairy tale retellings or fairy tales in general. I will be keeping an eye out from more of Durst's works in the future.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death by Daniel Pinkwater (4/5 stars)

After reading "The Neddiad" and "The Iggyssey" and enjoying them both immensely I decided I needed to read some more Daniel Pinkwater. So I picked up this book. It was an enjoyable book; I liked it. If you like Pinkwater's writing, you'll like this book. I did notice though after reading three of Pinkwater's book; he has a very distinctive writing style.

Walter and Winston Bongo are two boys who are bored to death in school and decide to Snark Out. Snarking out means that you sneak out of the house late at night and go to the Snark Theater to watch movies. They think they are the only ones who do this. That is until they meet Rat. Rat has been snarking out forever and she invites the boys over for breakfast. Rat's family is crazy and bizarre to the extreme and when Rat's avocado loving Uncle goes missing the boys are enlisted to help find him. Of course there are a ton of crazy characters; like Walter's avocado obsessed father and his mother who continually experiments with different types of tuna casserole for dinner.

This was a great, fun read. As I am finding to be the Pinkwater norm, the characters are unique and crazy, the plot is twisted and strange, and the imagination factor is off the scales. A quick read and hilarious; I think all ages will enjoy this book.

The only thing that bugged me a bit was that Walter's dialogue and thoughts were very similar to Neddie's from "The Neddiad"...this is odd because these books were written over 20 years apart. It make me wonder if Pinkwater uses a similar dialogue and character style for all of his young boys. Also Rat reminded me a lot of Iggy, the girl character in "The Iggyssey". That being said I still really enjoyed the book.

I will definitely read more of Pinkwater's books. I did not think this book was as good as "The Neddiad" though. Despite that this book was great fun to read.

Waiting on Wednesday - 10/28

Okay "Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

This week my WoW book is "Darklight" by Lesley Livingston. This is the second book in her "Wondrous Strange" series. The first book was pretty good and I am looking forward to the second one. There are supposed to be three books total in this series.

"Darklight" by Lesley Livingston
Pages: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: December 22, 2009

“Much has changed since autumn, when Kelley Winslow learned she was Faerie royalty, fell in love with changeling guard Sonny Flannery, and saved New York City from a rampaging Faerie war band. When a terrifying encounter in Central Park sends Kelley tumbling into the Otherworld, her reunion with Sonny is joyful—but cut short. For they’ve been plunged into a game of Faerie deception and wavering allegiances in which the next move could topple a kingdom…or part them forever.

The fans who flocked to Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange will fall hard for Darklight, the soaringly romantic second book in the trilogy. Breathless high stakes and vividly magical characters make this a can’t-miss fantasy for readers of Melissa Marr and Holly Black.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

News - Kitty Norville books 8, 9 , and 10

I just read on Carrie Vaughn's blog that she just signed the contract to produce 4 more Kitty Norville books!
So those of us worried that all the Kitty fun would be done with book seven can breath a big sigh of relief.
The first three books planned are books 8, 9, and 10 in the series; the fourth is a collection of short stories about Kitty.

You can read more about it on her blog here.

Until then we can all just be excited for the 7th installment. Find more information on "Kitty's House of Horrors" here.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

I got an ARC of this book through the Amazon Vine program. This was an interesting book and I am still struggling a bit about how I feel about it. Parts of it were great and parts were very deliberate and boring. This is a massive book; over 600 pages and it was an interesting story. It seems to me like the ending is left somewhat open for a sequel; although I wasn't able to find any information on whether or not there is going to be one.

Ethan Wate has been dreaming about a girl. In the dream he is always trying to hold on to her in a raging storm, but she always manages to slip away. This is the biggest event of his life right now given that he lives in the boring typical southern small town of Gatlin. Then one day a new girl shows up at school, Lena Duchannes. As a new girl she gets a lot of flack from the other kids, on top of that she is the niece of the town recluse who lives in the supposedly haunted estate of Ravenwood, which doesn't help her popularity with the kids any. When Ethan first sees her he realizes that she is the girl he's been seeing in his dreams. Ethan finds out that Lena is more different than he could ever have imagined. Lena is part of something big and, as her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena will face the biggest challenge of her life. Lena will find out if the dark or light in her soul will prevail and the results will change who Lena is forever.

There were some things I liked about this book. The whole book has a very mysterious and urgent aura that hangs on every word. This book is as much a mystery as anything else. The characters are very well done. You are really pulling for Ethan and Lena throughout the book. The supporting characters are also very well developed; for example Amma and Ravenwood both have intricate and interesting pasts. You can tell a lot of work went into making this book as historically accurate as possible. There are a ton of interesting facts about Gatlin and they are all well-woven into the plot to give the story a lot of believability.

There were also some things that I didn't like about the book. The first 200 pages were very slow moving; they did build some tension into the plot but I had some trouble getting through them because I thought it got kind of boring. I also thought during this first part of the book that the foreshadowing was just overdone; I understood that Lena and Ethan had a connection very quickly and I was confused as to why this was drawn out so much. Then for the next hundred pages the action was non-stop and the story absolutely griping. Then after that there were another 200 pages of nothing much happening and boredom. Then again the last 100 pages were non-stop action and the plot was developed so quickly that it was hard to stop reading. I personally thought that the book could have been paced a bit better; then I wouldn't have had to struggle to stay interested for the majority of the book.

I also groaned a little bit when I realized that this book was yet another teen book channeling the whole "Twilight" premise of boy and girl can't be together because one of them isn't exactly human, but yet they will struggle to find a way.

Overall this book gets 3.5 stars from me. I liked the writing style, the magic, the detailed history and the mystery. I didn't like the erratic pacing and the overlying story of yet another pair of star-crossed lovers. By the end of the book, I was mostly glad that it was finished. I wasn't struck with a yearning to find out more about these characters. To be completely honest if there is another book in this series I probably won't read it...especially if it take over 600 pages to deliver a 300 page story.

Teaser Tuesday - 10/27

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser this week is from "Beautiful Creatures" by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

Here it is: "Everything around me changed, and it was like I was somewhere else. I was in the garden, but not in the garden. And the smell of lemons changed, into the smell of smoke-" Pg. 81

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mailbox Monday - 10/26

Mailbox Monday can be found at The Printed Page.

So what did I get in my mailbox this week? I got one book "Ice" through the Amazon Vine program. It is another retelling of the classic tale "East of the Sun, West of the Moon". Ironic that this was offered since last month I read "Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow" by Jessica Day George, this book is another beautiful retelling of this classic tale. I am really looking forward to reading this book to see how they compare. Eventually I would actually like to read the classic tale itself.

The second book I got because it is Halloweeny and spooky and I realized that I had never actually read the story. It is "The Picture of Dorian Grey" by Oscar Wilde. A classic that I have never read and am looking forward to reading. I got this through

The last book I actually bought. After reading "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" by Kate DiCamillo (and loving it) I saw "The Tale of Despareux" at half price books for a couple dollars. So I picked it up.

See below for more into on these books!

"Ice" by Sarah Beth Durst

First Sentence: "Once upon a time, the North Wind said to the Polar Bear King, 'Steal me a daughter, and when she grows she will be your bride.'"
From "When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.

Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back -- if Cassie will agree to be his bride.

That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her -- until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice."

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde

First Sentence: "The studio was filled with the rich odor of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amid the trees of the garden there came through the open door the heavy scent of lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn."
From "A lush, cautionary tale of a life of vileness and deception or a loving portrait of the aesthetic impulse run rampant? Why not both? After Basil Hallward paints a beautiful, young man's portrait, his subject's frivolous wish that the picture change and he remain the same comes true. Dorian Gray's picture grows aged and corrupt while he continues to appear fresh and innocent. After he kills a young woman, "as surely as if I had cut her little throat with a knife," Dorian Gray is surprised to find no difference in his vision or surroundings. "The roses are not less lovely for all that. The birds sing just as happily in my garden." As Hallward tries to make sense of his creation, his epigram-happy friend Lord Henry Wotton encourages Dorian in his sensual quest with any number of Wildean paradoxes, including the delightful "When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy." But despite its many languorous pleasures, The Picture of Dorian Gray is an imperfect work. Compared to the two (voyeuristic) older men, Dorian is a bore, and his search for ever new sensations far less fun than the novel's drawing-room discussions. Even more oddly, the moral message of the novel contradicts many of Wilde's supposed aims, not least "no artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style." Nonetheless, the glamour boy gets his just deserts. And Wilde, defending Dorian Gray, had it both ways: "All excess, as well as all renunciation, brings its own punishment."

"The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo

First Sentence: "The story begins within the walls of the castle, with the birth of a mouse."
From "Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.

From the master storyteller who brought us BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE comes another classic, a fairy tale full of quirky, unforgettable characters, with twenty-four stunning black-and-white illustrations by Timothy Basil Ering. This paperback edition pays tribute to the book's classicdesign, featuring a rough front and elegant gold stamping."

Those are the books that entered my house this week! Hope that you all have a good week and happy reading :-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston (3/5 stars)

This was the first book in the Wondrous Strange series by Lesley Livingston. The second book "Darklight" is supposed to be released December of 2009. Supposedly there are going to be three books in this series.

Kelley has moved to New York city to pursue her acting dreams. She is employeed as an understudy in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and when the actress playing Queen Titania breaks her ankle; Kelley is suddenly thrust into a lead role. This is just what she had always dreamed of. Then one night she goes to Central Park to practice her lines and stumbles into a young man named Sonny. He is mysterious and appears near her a number of times after that. That same fateful night she rescues a horse from a pond, the horse follows her home and proceeds to live in her bathtub. What she doesn't know right away is that the horse is a kelpie and Sonny is a part of the Unseelie King's elite guard, the Janus. From here on out things get stranger and stranger; she needs to figure out how Sonny is involved and how she herself is involved before she is hunted down.

I will state right out that I am getting a bit burned out on these "girl is a part of fairy but doesn't know she is" books. I thought everything about this book was okay, but none of it blew me away. I didn't really like any of the characters that much, the plot was pretty predictable, and the book was only kind of engaging. It was a quick read, and I liked it okay. I just think I have read too many of these types of books lately and this one really didn't stand out from any of the others.

Sonny fits the stereotype of a conflicted assassin-type perfectly; down to his unexplainable love of Kelley. Things happen much as you would expect them to happen. There were more action scenes than I expected, and they were done okay but they lacked energy and didn't really pull me into the fight. When I finished this book, I was kind of like, "Oh, well that's done. What should I read next?" It didn't really make a lasting impression on me.

I recently read "Lament" by Maggie Stiefvater and I actually liked that book better than this one. Although this book had a lot more well-developed fairy world and you meet a broader variety of fairy folk than you do in "Lament". I liked the writing style of "Lament" better. The writing style of this book was very straight-forward and easy. Which is okay, it made it a fast read. I would compare the level of this writing to Melissa Marr's "Wicked Lovely" series. Although I did enjoy the characters in this book more than the characters in "Wicked Lovely".

You could also compare this book to Aprilynne Pike's "Wings"; which I liked better than this book because I thought Pike dealt with fairies in a more interesting way. You could also compare this book to Holly Black's "Modern Fairy Tale" series; but I absolutely think that Holly Black's series blows all of the aforementioned ones out of the water.

So in summary, if you liked "Wicked Lovely", "Wings", "Lament", or "Tithe" I think you will probably like this book too. I would recommend "Wings", "Lament" and "A Modern Fairy Tale" over this book. I think it is similar to the "Wicked Lovely" series in writing quality. Will I read the next one in the series? Probably. I really love books about the fairy realms and there aren't a ton of them out there. So, yeah I will pick up "Darklight", but I will probably get it from the library.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On the Edge (The Edge, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews (5/5 stars)

This was the first book in The Edge series by Ilona Andrews. I read somewhere that this is going to be a duology. I wasn't able to find the second book's title, but it is supposed to be released in September of 2010. This was an excellent book! I love Andrews' writing style. Those who love Andrews' Kate Daniel's series will not be disappointed.

In this book Rose is raising her two brothers Jack and Georgie in the Edge. The Edge lies between the Broken (the world we live in) and the Weird (a magic analogue of our world). Rose is special in that she can "flash" brighter and hotter than anyone else in the Edge; her brothers are also significantly magical. Jack can shapechange into a cat and Georgie can raise the dead. Rose is just trying to eek out a living for her and the boys in the Edge by working as a maid in the Broken. Unfortunately things are starting to go wrong. Rose's family is being stalked by horrible creatures that ooze evil; and then one day Declan stumbles into Rose's life. Will Declan be a help or is he there to bring an even greater evil to Rose's life?

Of course a lot of people were introduced to the Andrews writing team through the Kate Daniels series so it is hard not to compare this series to that one. This is definitely a different series and a different type of book. Rose is a very different type of person from Kate (as she should be). Rose is kind of a one-trick-wonder. She can flash and that is her thing; other than that she is just trying to make a living and give her brothers a decent life in whatever way she can. This book has a bit more romance than the Kate Daniels series too and is a bit more graphic about love scenes, there is also a different tone to the story. Rose is not a bad-ass, although she has her moments. Declan has a lot of the alpha-male personality that Curran has in the Kate Daniels series, but a lot of the aspects of his personality are also quite different.

That being said I really loved all of the characters. They are complex and interesting. I love how the Andrews incorporate children into the story and treats them realistically; the children aren't forgotten or conveniently removed from the plot at tough spots. Jack and Georgie are always there and are, in their own right, extremely interesting and complex characters. They also play a major part in the story and plot itself.

The things I love about the Kate Daniels series also hold true for this book. Very creative and complex world-building. Tons of action scenes that are very well-written. A plot that is complex but easily followed and clips forward at a fast rate. The writing style of this books is fabulous. Most of the action scenes are no-nonsense in their writing style, but detailed and beautiful descriptions are added in at the parts where it really benefits the story for it to be there. The book is completely engrossing and engaging; it was super hard to put down.

All in all? A wonderful, wonderful read. I can't wait for the next book. I can't wait for the next Kate Daniels book either. My husband also likes Kate Daniels and I am trying to get him to read this book to see what he thinks the differences are. He has been a bit put off by the cover which is kind of romancy looking; I have to agree with him....the cover gave me pause and made me wonder if this book was going to involve some pretty heavy romance. No worries though! It is a wonderful urban fantasy with a bit more romance than the Kate Daniels series. I think anyone who has read the Andrews before should read this one, and anyone who hasn't should give it a go too! Now if only I could get past the sadness of having to wait for more books from Andrews!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Raven by Allison van Diepen (2/5 stars)

I have to admit I picked this book up at the library because I liked the cover. I was a bit worried about dedicating time to reading it because it kind of sounded like another "Twilight" wanna' be. In many ways that it what it ended up being, although it was different in a lot of ways too. Still, I thought the story was just okay and I got through it, but didn't find it an especially enjoyable read.

Nic, or Raven, works at a bar with a lot of awesome people. For some reason she is drawn to Zin the bartender. Zin and Nic are also on a brake-dance team together. Zin, of course, is incredibly handsome and is an awesome dancer, and seems drawn to Nic in return. When Zin protects Nic from being mugged one night, Nic sees a light move into Zin from the attacker. Now Nic thinks that Zin may not quite be human. She needs to figure out what he is and why he continually rebuffs her, even though he clearly loves her.

This wasn't all that great of a book. If the plotline sounds familiar, well it is. It is your basic awesome guy and girl fall in love, but can't be together because awesome guy is not human. But, awesome guy just sees something special in girl that makes him want to break all the rules and try to have a relationship with her. Except in this case the girl loves to break dance.

The plot wasn't all that engaging. It kind of focused around Nic's brother's drug addiction and then around Nic trying to decide if she wanted to become "other" like Zin. There wasn't really much outside force driving this plot somewhere interesting. The way everything ends up was fairly predictable too. The characters themselves are pretty 2D; I didn't really love any of them. The society of Jiang Shi lacked depth and seemed kind of pieced together; it didn't really fit into the world well and was secluded to this small group.

There were a couple other things that bothered me too. The first was that Nic is in high school and works nights at a bar. It was strange; I really didn't know any high-schoolers that served drinks at a bar...I guess I thought you had to be older to do that. Most of the story takes place in this dance club/bar though. It was just odd. The other is the writing style. Van Diepen mostly writes in very short sentences without much description. It makes the writing style a bit sparse and simplistic; I guess it results in a very easy reading level, but it took something out of the story.

The last thing that bothered me (but others may like) is that a lot of time was spent discussing break-dancing moves. I personally don't know (or care) much about break-dancing/hip-hop. It is just outside of the realm of things I am interested in. So, I honestly found these long scenes of practice and dance battle to be boring. Someone who is really into that might dig that about this book, but not me.

As I write the review, I realize that their really was't much I liked about the story. I got through it, it was a quick read. The story wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great. I honestly don't think I can recommend this as a great read. I suppose if you are looking for filler reading with the whole "we can't be together because you are immortal" premise, you might like this. But, honestly there are so many better young adult books out there. You can check out The Vampire Academy Series, Generation Dead, or Lament. All of these are better books and touch on immortal love.

Waiting on Wednesday - 10/21

Okay "Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

This week my WoW book is "Voices of Dragons" by Carrie Vaughn. This is the first book in a new young adult series Vaughn is writing. I like the Kitty Norville books pretty well, so I was intrigued when I saw that this book was going to be released. I couldn't find a blurb about what the book is about, but the cover art is shown below.

"Voices of Dragons" by Carrie Vaughn
Pages: 320
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 16, 2010

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (5/5 stars)

I really wanted to read DiCamillo's new book "The Magician's Elephant" and while I am on the waiting list at the library to get it I decided to check out some of her other books. After reading the synopsis of a couple, I decided this book looked interesting. It ended up being a very well written story and an amazing book.

Edward is a china rabbit that belongs to a young girl. But Edward is a vain rabbit, more concerned about his appearance than about how the little girl loves him. Edward can see the world around him and think about the world but he cannot really interact. Edward's life changes forever when he is lost overboard into the sea and goes on a journey that takes him through many people's lives.

DiCamillo is an excellent story teller. There are few writers out there that you can just tell right away are excellent classic story tellers; DeCamillo is one. This story engaged me immediately and took me on a wonderful emotional and physical journey; where I watched as things unravel from Edward'sperspective.

While the story is more focused at children, I think all ages will adore it. For an adult it is a very quick read, but a wonderful read nonetheless. At some parts it reminded me a little of "TheVelveteen Rabbit" and at other parts the story telling reminded me somewhat of Neil Gaiman's stories for children. What surprised me is despite the number of characters that Edward meets all of them are very real and engaging. I was surprised at both how heart-breaking parts of the story were and how beautiful other parts were. It takes a good writer to pack that much emotion and that much journey into such a slight novel. A couple points in the novel are quite sad, and I wondered if I would be able to get through them while reading aloud without crying. So, a warning to parents who would read this to their children, maybe take a quick breeze through it first to see what you think.

I was also impressed at the lesson the tale tells. It teaches a good lesson about what is really important in life. This is one of those stories that can be enjoyed on many levels. Kids will love the story about a thinking china rabbit on an adventure and adults will be drawn in my this rabbit's quest to figure out what it means to love and be loved. It is a wonderful writer who can appeal to such a wide audience at so many levels. Overall, a wonderful story; I am looking forward to reading more of DiCamillo's books.

Teaser Tuesday - 10/20

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from "Generation Dead" by David Waters.

Here it is: "He didn't smell like a dead person, for that matter, either. The crisp scent of pine and autumn leave was all she could smell." pg 87.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Generation Dead (Generation Dead, Book 1) by Daniel Waters (4/5 stars)

This is the first book in Generation Dead series by Daniel Waters. Right now, I believe that 5 books are planned. The 2nd book "Kiss of Life" came out May 2009 and the third book "Passing Strange" is planned to release in May of 2010. I really liked this book; I'd give it 4.5 stars. The book itself deals with deeper issues than the somewhat hokey cover would lead you to believe.

Suddenly American teenagers who have died are coming back to life. There is only a small percentage of them that return to life and no one knows why. Phoebe's high school is considered to be one of the better schools for the "living impaired" or, more politically correct, "differently biotic," teenagers. When Phoebe meets Tommy, she is fascinated by the fact that he is dead but still very intelligent and very focused. When Tommy tries out for, and makes, the football team he meets Adam, one of Phoebe's best friends. Tommy joining the football team upsets a lot of people who believe that the "Dead" kids should stay dead and buried. Then a research foundation asks for kids to join a study work group focused at helping relations between the traditionally biotic (trads) and the differently biotic (zombies). Suddenly Adam, Tommy, Phoebe, and a few others who join the study group find them selves targets for violence and are ostracized.

When I started this book I was concerned that this would be just another young adult high school drama but with zombies. It is a lot more than that. Waters creates characters that are very personable, engaging, and believable. Phoebe is a wonderful sweet and smart girl; who communicates very effectively with her parents and her friends. Adam and Tommy are also great characters. In fact every single character in this book is very well developed and interesting to get to know. This isn't a story about some crazy zombies, it's a story that talks about how society deals with things that are different.

I was also impressed with how Waters treats the living impaired teenagers. This book is approaching un-death as a disability or a new race. As such many social and political aspects of society are realistically dealt with in surprising depth. Many questions about how having a new race of un-dead teens affects family life, school life, social life, and the world as a whole are dealt with.

So, overall I thought this was a surprisingly well-done book. Of course, you do have the standard things a lot of teen books have. You have a love triangle between Tommy, Phoebe, and Adam to create some tension between the characters. You have a prom dance, and you have the standard jock jerks that try to make everyone's lives miserable. These things were dealt with tastefully though.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was the middle of it. I thought that the story started to drag a bit in the middle. The whole portion where they are forming the support group could have gone a bit faster. Also it would have been nice to have more urgency to the plot and maybe something urgent happening. You have the whole impending sense of doom that something bad is going to happen to the undead kids, but other than that there isn't a ton to the plot. That being said, the beginning and ending of the book kept me pretty hooked; given the ending I wish I had "Kiss of Life" in hand so I could start reading it now. I will definitely be keeping up with this series.

Eyes Like Stars (Theatre Illuminata, Act 1) by Lisa Mantchev (4/5 stars)

This is the first book in the Theatre Illuminata series by Lisa Mantchev. It is the first book of three; the second book "Perchance to Dream" is supposed to be out in Fall of 2010. I liked this book pretty well, it is a very creative premise. Although I thought the main character Bertie was a bit immature.

This tells the story of Bertie. Bertie lives in The Theatre; her bedroom is a scene and she is constantly going through scene changes. Her friends are the Players of the plays that the Theatre runs and are bound to the Theatre and the plays that they continuously perform. Someone wants Bertie kicked out of The Theatre and Bertie is desperate to stay, it is the only home she has ever known. For as long as she can remember she has never been outside The Theatre. On one side she has the mysterious and breath-taking Ariel pushing her to leave and on the other side the dashing pirate Nate, who is quite the gentleman and is willing to help Bertie come up with a plan to stay. Flitting through it all are Cobweb, Moth, Mustard Seed, and Peaseblossom the fairies who constantly accompany Bertie providing advice, most of it not so helpful. Will Bertie ever find a way to stay in the Theatre? Will she ever figure out her past before she was left to The Theatre's care?

I really wanted to love this story. When I started it I was a bit disappointed. The first couple chapters basically deal with Bertie dying her hair blue and getting in trouble for was not the depth I had been hoping for. I actually put it down for a while and then picked it up when I had a large block of time to read more and get further into the story. As the story went on though it got a lot better. The idea of people being bound to a Theater and only existing in the realm of their characters' personalities was incredibly interesting. I will admit it was a bit tough to keep a picture in my mind of exactly what was happening, with all the scene changes and stuff at the beginning, as the book went on through I got the hang of it and had an easier time with visualizing what was going on. The way everything in the book is set up like a play was also cute and clever and added some to the creativity of the book.

Mantchev's writing style is pretty straight-forward and easy to read. At times I wondered why this book was young adult. The characters are fairly child-like and the plot is easy reading. Which brings me to the biggest thing I didn't like about this book, and that was Bertie. I thought she was very juvenile for her age and very ditsy. I also thought she wasn't really all that likable. Lucky for her the supporting cast made up for her lack. The fairies always provided humorous banter in the background, which managed to never really get annoying and actually added to the story. Nate was written as a wonderful handsome, sincere, and dashing pirate. He was a great character. Ariel was also a wonderful character with his alluring magic and his bouts of temper. Nate and Ariel are the ones who really carried this book.

The book was a very easy read and a humorous read at parts. I enjoyed the concept. If Mantchev had made Bertie and bit less, well stupid, and a bit more mature this book could have been a 5 star-er. For me though Bertie's lack of characterization and the simplistic writing style brought this book down from something wonderful for me. I still liked it a lot and am eager to read the next book. I am curious to see what Bertie will do next. This book was fairly well-wrapped up but enough loose ends were left that I am going to have trouble waiting for the next book!

Mailbox Monday - 10/19

Mailbox Monday can be found at The Printed Page.

I am trying to keep my vow to get my "to be read" pile under 100 books before I add new ones. Still, I got some wishes granted on my wishlist this week. So, those are the books listed below. I also keep getting books from the library...I have to stop that!!!

Anyway, the first book below is another Daniel Pinkwater book; I read two of his novels earlier this month and really enjoyed them. They are hilarious! So I ordered it "4 Fantastic Novels" book off of

2nd book is "Life as We Knew It" by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I have heard a lot about this book and am excited to read it.

The 3rd book is "The Barbed Rose"; this is the 2nd book in the Compass Rose trilogy by Gail Dayton. I am trying to collect all three before I start reading this series.

See below for the books and more info on them!

"4 Fantastic Novels" by Daniel Pinkwater

First Sentence: "This is how Borgel turned up."
From "Whether you know Daniel Pinkwater as a children's book author (and you should, he's written over 40 fabulous books) or as a National Public Radio commentator, you must agree that he is a very, very funny guy. Though his books are perfectly nonsensical and absurd in all the best ways, they leave you feeling strangely serene about the universe. Whether his books introduce us to muffin-eating polar bears (Larry), really old time-traveling men (Uncle Borgel), or 266-pound chickens (Henrietta from The Hoboken Chicken Emergency), they each reflect a polite world where people (and other species) basically respect each other--warts, multiple heads, foul smells (we're thinking of the Bloboform), and all. As luck would have it, four of Pinkwater's previously published novels are now combined in one delicious and aptly named paperback volume, 4 Fantastic Novels. In it you'll find Borgel, Yobgorgle: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario, The Worms of Kukumlima, and The Snarkout Boys and the Baconburg Horror, none of which will disappoint. Fans will want to pick up 5 Novels as well, a collection which includes Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars, Slaves of Spiegel, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, The Last Guru, and Young Adult Novel."

"Life as We Knew It" by Susan Beth Pfeffer

First Sentence: "Lisa is pregnant."
From "It's almost the end of Miranda's sophomore year in high school, and her journal reflects the busy life of a typical teenager: conversations with friends, fights with mom, and fervent hopes for a driver's license. When Miranda first begins hearing the reports of a meteor on a collision course with the moon, it hardly seems worth a mention in her diary. But after the meteor hits, pushing the moon off its axis and causing worldwide earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, all the things Miranda used to take for granted begin to disappear. Food and gas shortages, along with extreme weather changes, come to her small Pennsylvania town; and Miranda's voice is by turns petulant, angry, and finally resigned, as her family is forced to make tough choices while they consider their increasingly limited options. Yet even as suspicious neighbors stockpile food in anticipation of a looming winter without heat or electricity, Miranda knows that that her future is still hers to decide even if life as she knew it is over."

"The Barbed Rose" by Gail Dayton

First Sentence: "Halt, stand and identify yourself and your business."
From "Demon hordes still threaten the Kingdom while open rebellion has broken out within its cities, separating Kallista from her new family.

Assassination attempts, magical attacks -- she's surrounded by devastation unlike anything she's ever known, and her unique magic power no longer works as it should. Yet her own pain must yield to the needs of her country, for this military mage is charged with searching the four directions of the world for the other "Godmarked" -- the only ones who can help her keep demon invaders from shattering her world.

But can she find them in time?"

That's it for this week! Hope you all have a good week :-) Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente (5/5 stars)

Previous to this book I had read a short story of Valente's called "A Delicate Architecture" in the Anthology "A Troll's Eye View"; I loved that story and was eager to read a full length novel by Valente. This novel was absolutely wonderful. The imagery Valente creates is phenomenal, and the premise of the story is one of the most creative I have read in some time.

This is the story of four stangers. Oleg a locksmith that lives with his dead sister, November a beekeeper who is obsessed with her bees, Ludovico a rare book binder who loves his books above all else, and Sei a young Japanese woman who is enraptured by trains. All four of them have something in common, they all chance to meet strangers that they connect with and sleep with. Each of the strangers bears a spider-webbed map-like mark on their body. The four protagonists in turn find themselves with a black map mark and when they dream after the encounter they find themselves in the city of Palimpsest, a city that can full-fill all your dreams. For a while and at a cost.

This was a very creative premise. Basically the only way to enter Palimpsest is to have sex with a stranger. Then when you enter Palimpsest you can only visit the parts of the city that you have previously visited or the parts that are marked on the map-like tattoo of the stranger you sleep with. So, the more people you sleep with, the more parts of the city you can visit. But you can only ever visit in dreams; the characters spend a lot of the book trying to figure out how to stay in Palimpsest permanently.

Palimpsest is a city like no-other. Palimpsest is a character in herself, and often encounters the characters on their journey through her. Each of the four characters are all a bit ironic because they each have things they obsess and love over all other things, and they are not conventional things like people; yet, the characters are continually forced to enter into interactions with other people to enter Palimpsest at all. The plot and story are intricate and mysterious, and by no means straight-forward. I found myself loving the plot and loving the fact you have to constantly think and try to figure out exactly what is going on.

If you are the type of person who likes your narratives easily understood and likes quick straight-forward writing styles I would steer clear of this book. Nothing about this writing is straight-forward. Valente weaves intricate and luscious pictures out of the most mundane things. She brings everything so alive that you can picture it glittering and sparkling in your mind. In fact everything is detailed so delicately and deliberately at times the plots spins away for a while and you are lost to the environment of the book. Much of the beginning of the book and all of the scenes that take place in Palimpsest have a very surreal and dream-like quality to them. I thought they were beautiful beyond imaging, but if I wasn't the kind of person who likes being ale to image and savor every beautiful and glinting detail of the world, I suppose it might have been irritating.

Given the premise of the story, I should mention that although sex is pivotal to the story it actually isn't really involved in much of the story. The sex scenes are very brief and not gone into in great detail or even very explicit detail. Keep in mind all these characters love something and, in general, it is not people. The sex is used a vehicle to get into Palimpsest, as such, it is dealt with in that way. So, people who don't like sex in their books, should still give this a try as it is not a huge part of the story.

I loved this story to death. The writing was absolutely enrapturing. I savored every word I read. The story was incredibly creative and very interesting to piece together. People who don't like a dream-like quality to their books and who prefer straight-forward stories should steer clear though. Will I be reading more Valente? You bet! I would like to read everything she has written.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mothstorm (Larklight, Book 3) by Philip Reeve (5/5 stars)

This is the third, and I believe last, book in the Larklight series by Philip Reeve. This was an excellent book. Full of funny space travel, dangerous battles, and the wonderful characters that I loved from the first two books. I listened to this book on audio book, and it was very well done. You wouldn't have to read the first two books to enjoy this book, but the first two do add a lot of background story that would make parts of this book more meaningful.

A message about "Danger to the known world" is received from the depths of space near Georgium Sidus (also known as Uranus by us more uncouth peoples). This is coupled by the appearance of a strange cloud near the planet. Well, off our adventurers go exploring. What they find is something to rival their Mother, another shaper, but this shaper is hell bent on taking over all of known British space.

Most of the story is told from Art's perspective. As with the last two novels, Myrtle takes over at certain parts to give her perspective on things. The whole story is told with the same over-the-top British bent to it as the previous two books. We get to add another wonderful character to the story in Charity, whom Art greatly admires.

The action is non-stop in this adventure, there are numerous battles fought. Slissa finally gets to find her origins. This was another wonderful book. It is full of biting humor and reminds a lot of The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, but in Victorian times and for younger readers. The pictures sprinkled throughout the book are wonderful too and add a lot to the story (I did listen to it on audio book, but then I acquired the book in hardback to keep on my shelf).

I think that this book should appeal to a wide audience. There are some scary bits, but violence is kept to a minimum and the language is all very polite. I really loved this series and am a bit sad that this is the last book. This book does do a good job of bringing the storyline to a closure though. So if you like adventure, space, British humor, steampunk, or pirates this is the book for you; no matter what your age.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October In Review

It was a good reading month for me. I read lots and lots of books :-) I even finished a few series including: Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black, the Barcode Tattoo duology by Suzanne Weyn, and the Larklight series by Philip Reeve.
For once I also threw caution to the wind and started reading quite a few new series. I usually try to keep new series to a minimum since I am already in the middle of 30 something. Below are the new series I started reading.

- The Luxe by Anna Godberson (I am dropping this series because I didn't like the first book much at all)
- Shiver series by Maggie Steifvater
- Twenty Palaces by Harry Connolly
- Lament series by Maggie Steifvater
- Theatre Illuminata series by Lisa Mantchev
- Generation Dead series by Daniel Waters
- The Edge Chronicles by Ilona Andrews
- Wondrous Strange series by Lesley Livingston

I know, I know do I really need to start all these series? No, but they are so much fun!

I read a ton of great books in October. Some of the highlights were:
- "The Child Thief" by Brom; a wonderfully dark masterpiece retelling the story of Peter Pan
- "The Neddiad" by Daniel Pinkwater; a crazy and extremely funny story about a kid who saves the world with a stone turtle
- "Child of Fire" (Twenty Palaces, Book 1) by Harry Connolly; super high action urban fantasy set in a spectacular new world.
- "Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception" by Maggie Stiefvater; Wonderful story that focuses on music and fairies. Reminded me a lot of Charles DeLint's books.
- "Mothstorm" (Larklight, Book 3) by Philip Reeve; a spectacular conclusion to the Larklight series. Think space pirates in Victorian British Space. Hilarious and full of wonderful adventure.
- "Palimpsest" by Catherynne M. Valente; wonderfully descriptive and dreamy book with a very creative premise.
- "Generation Dead" (Generation Dead, Book 1) by Daniel Waters; a neat and novel zombie book about zombies becoming a new race of teenager.
- "On the Edge" (The Edge, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews; the first book in the Edge Chronicles. If you like Kate Daniels you will love this series too. The characters are different by the wonderful writing and creativity remain consistent.
- "The Van Alen Legacy" (Blue Bloods, Book 4) by Melissa De La Cruz; fourth book in the Blue Bloods series. This series just keeps getting better and more exciting.

As for the clunkers I read this month. There weren't many of them. The ones that didn't meet my expectations are listed below.
- "Raven" by Allison van Diepen; a "Twilight" wanna' be with concentration on break-dancing and 2D characters.
- "A Touch of Dead" (Sookie Stackhouse: Complete Stories) by Charlaine Harris. None of them added much to Sookie's character, they were all forgettable stories.
- "Wild Blood" By Nancy Collins; this is the worst of all her books that I have read. I absolutely have loved every other book of hers, but this book did not follow in the stead of the others.

The full list of books read is shown below! I hope you all had a good month of reading too :-)

1. "The Child Thief" by Brom (5/5 stars)
2. "The Neddiad" by Daniel Pinkwater (5/5 stars)
3. "The Luxe" (The Luxe, Book 1) by Anna Godbersen (3/5 stars)
4. "Marvel 1602" by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert (4/5 stars)
5. "The Wyrm King" (Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, Book 3) by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi (4/5 stars)
6. "Shiver" by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5 stars)
7. "Bar Code Tattoo" by Suzanne Weyn (4/5 stars)
8. "Barcode Rebellion" by Suzanne Weyn (4/5 stars)
9. "Child of Fire" (Twenty Palaces, Book 1) by Harry Connolly (4/5 stars)
10. "A Touch of Dead" (Sookie Stackhouse: Complete Stories) by Charlaine Harris (3/5 stars)
11. "Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception" by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5)
12. "The Yggyssey" by Daniel Pinkwater (4/5 stars)
13. "Wild Blood" By Nancy Collins (3/5 stars)
14. "Mothstorm" (Larklight, Book 3) by Philip Reeve (5/5 stars)
15. "Palimpsest" by Catherynne M. Valente (5/5 stars)
16. "Eyes Like Stars" (Theatre Illuminata, Act 1) by Lisa Mantchev (4/5 stars)
17. "Generation Dead" (Generation Dead, Book 1) by Daniel Waters (4/5 stars)
18. "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" by Kate DiCamillo (5/5 stars)
19. "Raven" by Allison van Diepen (2/5 stars)
20. "On the Edge" (The Edge, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews (5/5 stars)
21. "Wondrous Strange" by Lesley Livingston (3/5 stars)
22. "Beautiful Creatures" by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (3/5 stars)
23. "The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death" by Daniel Pinkwater (4/5 stars)
24. "Ice" by Sarah Beth Durst (4/5 stars)
25. "The Van Alen Legacy" (Blue Bloods, Book 4) by Melissa De La Cruz (5/5 stars)

Wild Blood By Nancy Collins (3/5 stars)

I really love Nancy Collins' writing; I was excited to read one of the few books of hers that I haven't read. I loved her Sonja Blue series and even loved the books I read outside that series, for example "Angels on Fire". I have got to say though "Wild Blood" is not one of her better novels. It is an okay read but she has written much, much better stuff than is found in this book.

In this book Skinner, who starts the book as your typical college student, finds out (through a series of disasters) that he is a werewolf. Skinner ends up immersed in an uber-violent society as he tries to figure out what it means to be one of these super powerful creatures. Skinner works to find a place for himself in this new lifestyle as he struggles to maintain the morals he was raised with.

Those of you who have read Collins before know that she doesn't pull punches when it comes to violence. She is one of the few writers who can occasionally make me nauseous with the violent and perverse turns that her novels take. So, if you don't like violence (I am including both blood and guts violence, humiliating violence, and sexual violence in my violence statement) I would stay away. There is nothing beautiful about this novel, it is very, very dark..oh and did I mention violent?

The pace of the story is pretty good and actually keeps the reader very engaged. Skinner is not the most engaging or interesting character ever, but he has a uniquely down-to-earth yet tormented personality. Most of the surrounding characters are not at all likable. The book, unfortunately, is very predictable. The blood and violence, there is a ton of rape and other sexual violence in this book, was less necessary to the plot than in other books of Collins that I have read.

Surprisingly the ending to this book is rather gentle. Which is a bit odd for those of us familiar with Collins's other works; she is not one for a happy ending. Compared to the rest of the book the ending was actually very positive and sweet.

Overall it was an okay read. Nothing extraordinary. A good book to read for Halloween. For those paranormal lovers, this book definitely tends more to the horror side of things. There is definitely not a focus on romance or supernaturals as misunderstood members of society. Personally, if you want to read Nancy Collins I would start with the Sonya Blue Collection, it is much better.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Yggyssey by Daniel Pinkwater (4/5 stars)

This book was the sequel to Pinkwater's "The Neddiad". While this book wasn't as hilarious and quirky as "The Neddiad" it was still a great read.

Iggy is wondering why the ghosts that live in the hotel her and her parents permanently inhabit are disappearing. With the help of the main characters from the Neddiad (Neddie and Seamus) she tries to find out. As with the Neddiad the path to the answer is funny, not at all straight-forward, and full of general craziness.

I was excited that this book was told from Iggy's perspective; I really liked her character in the Neddiad. I was surprised to find that I didn't enjoy her perspective quite as much as Neddie's. Neddie was just so matter-of-fact and fascinated by everything that it was really funny to follow his thoughts. Iggy is more practical and down-to-earth. I also missed the cross-country traveling present in "The Neddiad"; the majority of this book takes place in LA.

The other thing that bothered me a bit was that the beginning of the book was rather slow. About half way through things really take-off as the kids start off on their adventure to find the ghosts, but it takes too long to set all that up. Also this story doesn't have the-world-is-ending urgency of the first novel.

Despite the above complaints, this book was still a fun and quirky read. Some of the coincidences that take place, the crazy references, and the quirky characters are amazing. It was a very hard book to put down. I think you could read this book without reading "The Neddiad"; although you will miss out on some of the jokes in this book as well as the better of the two books (which is "The Neddiad").

It is again a book I would recommend to all types and ages of people. I can't wait to read it to my son when he gets a few years older (at two he doesn't have the patience for non-picture books yet). Both "The Neddiad" and "The Yggyssey" were great books. They prompted me to acquire more of Daniel Pinkwater's previous works. He is such an interesting (and hilarious) storyteller.

Waiting on Wednesday - 10/14

Okay "Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

This week my WoW book is "Grave Secret" by Charlaine Harris. This is the fourth (and rumored final) book in Harris's "Harper Connelly" series. This has been a very good mystery/paranormal series that I enjoy for a light read. Hopefully it is better than the latest Sookie book was.

"Grave Secret" (Harper Connelly Mysteries, Book 4) by Charlaine Harris
Pages: 320
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover
Release Date: October 27, 2009

From "Lightning-struck sleuth Harper Connelly and her stepbrother Tolliver take a break from looking for the dead to visit the two little girls they both think of as sisters. But, as always happens when they travel to Texas, memories of their horrible childhood resurface.

To make matters worse, Tolliver learns from his older brother that their father is out of jail and trying to reestablish contact with other family members. Tolliver wants no part of the man- but he may not have a choice in the matter.

Soon, family secrets ensnare them both, as Harper finally discovers what happened to her missing sister, Cameron, so many years before.

And what she finds out will change her world forever."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5)

This is the first book in the Books of Faerie series by Maggie Stiefvater. There is a sequel to this book called "Ballad" that was recently released; but I couldn't find out if any more books are planned after that. I had previously read "Shiver" and liked this book more than "Shiver". In general it was a good read.

Deirdre is a talented musician. She runs into a boy named Luke at a musical competition. Luke accompanies her on his flute, resulting in a stellar performance and a Grand Prize win. Then the 4 leaf clovers start appearing and Deirdre starts developing telekinetic powers. She is drawn to Luke, but can't figure out who or what he is. As the plot unfolds Deirdre finds out that her life and the life of those she loves are all in jeopardy. She also finds out that Luke has a very dark past. Can she figure out what is going on and how to fix everything before things get too dangerous?

I liked this book better than "Shiver". There is more humor in it. Deirdre is an interesting character, as is Luke. There is a lot of witty banter that occurs between the two. Deirdre's friend James is also an excellent and intriguing character. The cast of Faeries in the book is diverse, if not as unique as in some other books. The store has more urgency to it than "Shiver" did and many more action scenes. Overall I thought the pacing was a lot better and the story was interesting.

This doesn't get 5 stars because I am not sold on Stiefvater's writing style. There is just something kind of loose about the way she writes. The descriptions don't quite take me all the way to truly visualizing the scenes, and the characters are engaging but not desperately so. The action scenes are okay, but not as tightly written as they could be. I also feel that the fairy realm could have been a bit more creative and had more depth to it than it did.

I enjoyed the story more than Melissa Marr's "Wicked Lovely" series but not as much as Holly Black's "Modern Fairy Tale" series. The story also reminded me of many of Charles de Lint's works, mainly because of the musical aspect of the story tied together with the faeries appearing in a modern day world. I also think Charles de Lint's books (specifically Mooheart/Spiritwalk) are better than this book.

Overall, a decent read and engaging. Not the best type of the story out there, but a pleasant addition to the genre. Fans of Marr's "Wicked Lovely" series or Holly Black's "Modern Fairy Tale" series should give this one a go.

Teaser Tuesday - 10/13

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week is from "Lament" by Maggie Steifvater

Here it is: "Luke grabbed my hand abruptly, knocking the clover out of it as he did. Relieved to be rescued, I said, "I'm glad you're here. This guy-" I turned to look at the weirdo, but there was nothing there, only the lingering scent of rosemary or thyme." Pg. 31

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse: The Complete Stories) by Charlaine Harris (3/5 stars)

This is collection of 5 short stories featuring Sookie; "Fairy Dust," "One Word Answer," "Dracula Night," "Lucky," and "Giftwrap." If you are someone who faithfully reads all of the Sookie Stackhouse short stories in previously released anthologies; then you can skip this book completely. I personally had only read "Dracula Night" which was released in the "Many Bloody Returns" anthology. This book was okay and a super quick read.

Personally I didn't like "Fairy Dust" and "One Word Answer" all that much. I thought these two stories were kind of boring. I had already read "Dracula Night" and I thought that one was okay. The two stories that stood out in this anthology for me were "Lucky" and "Giftwrap". Both of those were very entertaining and "Giftwrap" added a little to Sookie's background.

Even if you haven't read any of these stories elsewhere I wouldn't buy this book new; I would either get it from the library or buy it used. It is super short, maybe took me 1-2 hours to read all of the stories. I didn't think any of them really added a lot of understanding or background to Sookie's character. I guess if you are an absolute die-hard Sookie fan you might want this book for your collection, or if you really need to get your Sookie fix before the next book comes out.

Overall the book was okay, but most of the stories are forgettable. It's a good way to get all the Sookie short stories if you really want to read them.

Mailbox Monday - 10/12

Mailbox Monday can be found at The Printed Page

I used to read a lot of Mercedes Lackey books back when she wrote her Valdimar series. Then I didn't like the series she started after that one. I got the below books on a deal on Hopefully I will like this (kind of) new series of hers :-)

"The Fairy Godmother" (Tales from the 500 Kingdoms, Book 1) by Mercedes Lackey

First Sentence: "This is not the way to spend a beautiful spring morning."
From "The prolific Lackey (the Valdemar series) draws on the darker, Brothers Grimm side of fairy lore for her enchanting tale, the first title under a new Harlequin imprint to spotlight romantic fantasy. In the land of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, the Tradition, that ineffable magic, holds the promise of happily-ever-after for all deserving young maidens and courteous princes charming. But the Tradition also leads some in its thrall to pain, suffering and gruesome death. Feisty 19-year-old Elena Klovis seems destined to be an Ella of the Cinders (Cinderella), at the mercy of her wicked stepmother and greedy stepsisters. To escape their clutches, Elena tries to get work as a maidservant, but her fairy godmother, Madame Bella, has other plans for her. Elena becomes Madame Bella's apprentice, doing her best, among other challenges, to ensure that evil does not subvert Tradition. The only problem is that fairy godmothers are not themselves allowed to fall in love. It's up to Elena, who has vowed to reform a wayward prince, to tease out the threads of a new Tradition. Lackey has created an intelligent, self-possessed heroine with whom many readers will identify."

"One Good Knight" (Tales from the 500 Kingdoms, Book 2) by Mercedes Lackey

First Sentence: "Princess Andromeda stood on the very edge of a ledge three-quarters of the way up the cliff above the Royal Palace of her motherm Queen Cassiopeia of Acadia, holding her arms to the wind."
From "When a dragon storms the castle, what should a (virgin) princess do? Why, turn to her studies, of course! But nothing practical-minded Princess Andromeda of Acadia finds gives a definitive solution. The only Traditional answer, though, is soothing the marauding dragon by a virgin sacrifice. Things are going fairly smoothly with the lottery -- except for the women chosen, of course -- until Princess Andromeda herself is picked! But facing down the dragon doesn't go quite as planned, and now, with the help of her Champion, Sir George, Andromeda searches for the dragon's lair. But even -- especially -- in the Five Hundred Kingdoms, bucking Tradition isn't easy. It takes the strongest of wills, knowledge, quick wits and a refusal to give up, no matter what happens along the way . . . "

"Fortune's Fool" (Tales from the 500 Kingdoms, Book 3) by Mercedes Lackey

First Sentence: "Shafts of golden light pierced the green twilight, penetrating the waving fronds of the forest to leave pools of light on the ground."
From "The seventh daughter of the Sea King, Ekaterina is more than a pampered princess—she's also the family spy. Which makes her the perfect emissary to check out interesting happenings in the neighboring kingdom…and nothing interests her more than Sasha, the seventh son of the king of Belrus. Ekaterina suspects he's far from the fool people think him. But before she can find out what lies beneath his facade, she is kidnapped!Trapped in a castle at the mercy of a possessive Jinn, Ekaterina knows her chances of being found are slim. Now fortune, a fool and a paper bird are the only things she can count on—along with her own clever mind and intrepid heart.… "

That's it for this week! I hope that everyone has a wonderful week :-)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Child of Fire (Twenty Palaces, Book 1) by Harry Connolly (4/5 stars)

I got this as an advanced reading copy (ARC) through the Amazon Vine program. This book is being targeted at people who love the Dresden Files and Simon Green's "Secret Histories" series. Given that and the description provided; I was excited to read it. This is the first novel in the Twenty Palaces series; so far three books in this series have been sold. The second one is titled "Game of Cages" and is scheduled for a May 2010 release. It was a very good book.

Ray Lilly has been in prison for a while, he is released to serve as a driver for one of the members of the Twenty Palaces society, Annalise. The Twenty Palaces Society is a group of sorcerers that police rogue sorcerers and destroy any Predators they bring into the normal world. Ray and Annalise are sent to a small town to find out why all of their children are disappearing.

Overall this was a great book. The plot is well-put together, the action scenes are amazing, and the action is non-stop. While Ray and Annalise are not the most likable characters, they are characters that you grow to like as a reader and they have a lot of depth to them. Ray will remind in many ways of Harry Dresden, he takes a lot of beatings and still tries to do what he things is right. The world that this novel takes place in is also fascinating and in this book you don't learn a ton about the Twenty Palaces Society, just enough to make you want to learn more.

There is a lot going on in this book, no one is who they seem to be, and the action scenes fall one into the next. I guess that is my only complaint about this book. The action scenes were basically one on top of the other and they came at you so fast you never had time to catch your breath. I also think that the action scenes were so plentiful that, at times, they prevented us from getting to spend time actually learning more about the characters. I guess I have one other small complaint and that was that this story was very isolated to this one small town. You get glimpses of another world out there, but you never get to really take part in it...hopefully we will get to see more of this interesting world in future books.

I liked this book and am eager to read the next one. I think this has potential to be a really excellent series. A great read. I agree that if you like the Dresden Files, you will probably like this series also.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Barcode Rebellion by Suzanne Weyn (4/5 stars)

This was the closing book to the Bar Code Tattoo duology by Suzanne Weyn. It was a great book, the action was non-stop and so much story was put into this little book.

Kayla is set to make the journey to Washington DC in order to join the protest against mandatory bar code tattooing. Things get confusing though when she starts showing up on TV as an advocate for the bar code. Who is this girl on TV? As Kayla's journey continues she begins to find out things that completely change the way she looks at herself and her history. Along the way new information comes to light that the bar code may have an even darker purpose than keeping track of everyone's genetic code.

This was a great story. Some wonderful new characters enter into the story. The characters are fairly well-developed but the strong point of the story is definitely the idea surrounding a bar code society. The writing style is okay. The book is a quick read and very engaging.

This book was a bit less believable than the first book. With characters wielding a number of strange abilities, like telepathy and telekinesis, things are much further displaced from a "near" future. Also the whole story about Kayla's history is interesting but kind of strange.

I enjoyed the story; it was a good conclusion to the series and a quick read. Things are nicely wrapped up. If you read the first one you have to read this one. I am actually kind of surprised these two short books weren't published as one novel. The ideas in this novel are what really make it great. Will I read more of Weyn's stuff in the future? Probably not. I will keep an eye on her writing though to see if she comes up with anymore really creative sci-fi premises for a novel.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday - 10/7

Okay "Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

This week my WoW book is "Succubus Shadows" by Richelle Mead. This is book five in Mead's Georgina Kincaid series. This series started out a bit shaky with the first book, but has been a wonderful series since then.

"Succubus Shadows" (Georgina Kincaid, Book 5) by Richelle Mead
Pages: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: March 30, 2010

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn (4/5 stars)

This is the first book in the bar code duology by Suzanne Weyn. It was a very good book, with engaging characters and a fast-paced plot that made the book difficult to put down.

In the year 2025 almost everyone has a bar code tattoo. It is not law yet, but most people get a bar code when they turn seventeen. At a few days to her birthday Kayla is trying to decide what to do; should she get the tattoo? See the thing is that her dad got the tattoo seven months ago and since then he has been a different person, depressed and miserable. Kayla wonders if the bar code has something to do with it. She ends up getting involved with a rebellious faction called Decode that is fighting against the bar code. Unfortunately the bar code is on its way to becoming law. The president of the US is part of the corporation doing the bar code tattoo and this corporation runs everything from the schools to the hospitals. What will Kayla choose? As she notices society getting stranger and stranger and notices more weird things happening to both the un-tattoed and the tattooed she is uncertain.

Overall this was a wonderful book. The characters are engaging. The premise is interesting, and Weyn takes it to lengths that are horrifying and frighteningly realistic. The pace of the book is relentless, the action never stops and you are pulled from disaster to disaster. For such a short book there is a ton packed in here both in action and in thought provoking material. Has this type of thing be written about before? Yeah, it sure has. Just think about Scott Westerfield's Uglies series and you have an example right there (of course that was published after this book) another example would be the Tripods series by John Christopher or some of Neal Stephenson's works. Still, Weyn does a great job making the story realistic and has the story centered around a young woman which was interesting.

I do have a couple pet peeves about this story though. These are mainly personal and of a technical nature. I have unfortunately worked with bar codes and RFIDs personally and I know that you can only hold a small amount of data on a 2D bar code like Weyn describes. With a little tiny bit of research Weyn would have known this. I realize it's a fantasy but it bothered me. The other thing that bothered me was the character's inconsistent technological know how. At one point Kayla says, "Send me your new web address, I'll e-mail you all the time." Okay, this is just odd I mean a web address is for a website, not to email someone. Really, you shouldn't screw that up in a sci-fi techno novel like this. The last thing that bothered me was when Kayla was at a house initially she was all worried about the government being able to track her computer use. Then later when she is hiding out with a rebel group, she decides to use the dusty old computer there. Then when someone tracks it she is, uh duh, I didn't realize that someone could track me here. Wow, that is just completely inconsistent!

Besides the above complaints, I enjoyed the book. I just tried to shrug the techno inconsistencies aside. This is a quick read and overall an interesting and fun read. I wish the small inconsistencies had been fixed, then this book would have been spectacular. Still, I am excited to read the next (and last) book "The Bar Code Rebellion".

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5 stars)

I had seen a lot of buzz around this book so I was really excited to read it. I liked it, it is a pretty darn good book. Looks like there are supposed to be two more books in the series "Linger" and "Forever".

Grace was attacked by wolves when she was a little girl. S and somewhat he remembers one wolf that drove off all the other wolves; she remembers the wolf with the yellow eyes. At almost 18 years old Grace still has a deep fascination with the wolves in the woods. In fact she sees the wolf with the yellow eyes quite often and she feels like she belongs with him. Sam is a normal kid during the summer, but when the temperature drops he becomes something different. Things get complicated when a kid is killed by the wolves, but then turns up later not at all dead.

There were a lot of good things about this story. I liked how each chapter was labeled both with the temperature and the character whose point of view it was. The idea of people becoming werewolves when the temperature lowers is intriguing, as is the idea that their time being able to convert to human only lasts so long. I also thought that the book was beautifully written, Sam especially talked in beautiful prose. The characters are very likable and easy to relate with.

The only thing that bothered me was the pace of the plot. The plot is painfully slow. There is a ton of time spent just recounting the details of Sam and Grace spending time together; and while these details are sweet, and somewhat touching, I think there were too many of them. That being said the pace picks up toward the end of the novel and the ending itself was great, if a bit rushed. If the last part of the book had taken place over maybe the last half of the novel instead of the last fifth, the pacing would have been perfect.

Overall, I liked the book. It was a pretty good read. I look forward to reading the next book in the series when it comes out.