Monday, November 30, 2009

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo (3.5/5 stars)

This is the third DiCamillo book I have read. I really enjoyed both "The Magician's Elephant" and "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane". I liked this book too, although not as much as the others of hers that I have read.

Rob Horton's mom died and then his dad decided they should move to Florida, where they currently reside in the Kentucky Derby Star Motel. Rob has a perpetual rash on his legs, and is constantly being beat up by the boys at school. His gloomy life changes when two things happen; first he finds a tiger caged in the woods and second he meets a girl called Sistine.

This is more of a novella than an actual full-length novel. It is not as magical or atmospheric as the other two DiCamillo novels I have read. DiCamillo does do a good job capturing how it feels for a young boy to be sad and alone.

The majority of this book deals with children trying to cope with strong emotions. Rob is perpetually sad because of his mom's death and his dad won't let Rob talk about it. Sistine is perpetually angry at the world because of her dad cheating on her mom. Somehow Rob and Sistine strike an odd friendship that focuses around this tiger they find in the woods.

The tiger is more of a symbol than anything in the story. In the end Rob and Sistine both find ways to cope with their emotions through events that happen with the tiger. The book is more of a fable from this aspect.

I love DiCamillo's writing style. This book does a very good job of showing children the right and wrong way to cope with sadness and anger. It would be a good story for younger children. Not my favorite of DiCamillo's though. I would definitely check out one of her other novels if you are a first time DiCamillo reader.

Kin (The Good Neighbors, Book 1) by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh (4.5/5 stars)

This is the first book in series of graphic novels called "The Good Neighbors" by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh. Looks like right now there are going to be three books. The second one is called "Kith" and it is already out. The third will be called "Kind" and will be out in 2010. I enjoyed this graphic novel a lot. Both the artwork and the story are very engaging.

Rue's mom has disappeared and her dad has been accused of murdering one of his students. As if this isn't bad enough Rue is starting to see things that she shouldn't; things that no one else can see. What is happening to Rue and her family? Will she be able to figure it out in time to save her dad and find her mom?

This book had a good plot; I was intrigued and am looking forward to reading the next graphic novel. As with most graphic novel series, this first book basically introduces you to the main characters and sets up the beginning of the story. Rue is a great character. Her friends are interesting and the fair folk Rue meets are the most intriguing characters of all.

The illustration throughout is awesome. I really enjoyed Naifeh's drawing style. All the pictures are in black and white. The detail that is in them is amazing; there are a number of pages you need to stare at for some time to process all that is going on in the drawings. Naifeh does an excellent job portraying the character's emotions.

Both the writing and the illustration are dark and moody. This is definitely not a child's fairy tale, although there isn't anything that makes this a mature book (no swearing, minimal violence, etc.). This is a great graphic novel for young adults or adults who love fairies and love Holly Black's writing.

I am eagerly awaiting the next book "Kith".

Sunday, November 29, 2009

ArchEnemy (The Looking Glass War, Book 3) by Frank Beddor (3/5 stars)

This is the concluding book in The Looking Glass Wars trilogy by Frank Beddor. It was okay. I think Beddor did a good job of wrapping things up, but I just couldn't get into either the characters or the story.

After King Arch devises to set off the bomb to kill all imagination; both Alyss and Redd are left without imagination. They are left wondering if/when imagination will return to Wonderland. When Arch turns against Redd, Redd is left without an army or allies and she is forced to ally with the one person who believes in imagination as much as she does...Alyss. Will imagination return? Will Arch be the one to rule Wonderland in the end? What are those darn caterpillars up to anyway? Who is the Everqueen?

I felt like everything about this book was luke warm. A lot happened, but not a lot of it really drove the plot forward. Alyss was in the story but didn't do much, she kind of let herself be shuttled around from place to place. Dodge was in the book but not a very empathetic or supportive character. The whole relationship between Dodge and Alyss fell flat, leaving me not caring whether they worked things out or not. There are no surprises in the plot, everything ends up exactly how you think it should. I found this book to be a boring and lengthy read, I really had to push to get through it. None of the characters were engaging, none of the villains all that bad, and everything ended just as predicted. There were some action scenes that could have been awesome, Beddor does an okay job writing them but didn't make me sit on the edge of my seat in anxiety waiting for the outcomes. The characters in the fight scenes are just to stoic and cardboard-like, you never know what they are thinking, feeling, or experiencing.

There were some things that redeemed the book. Hatter M and Molly are pretty good characters. These are some of the only characters that really showed some feeling throughout the book. Redd is one of the only characters who takes decisive action action King Arch, and she was way more interesting that any of the good characters. Beddor does do a good job tying up all of the loose ends, but he does it in such a straightforward and tidy way that it was not much fun for me to read. I guess to be fair I didn't really like "Seeing Redd" all that much either, so I may just not enjoy Beddor's writing style.

I am glad I read the conclusion. Disappointed that I figured out who the Everqueen was near the beginning of the book. Also disappointed in the characterization. So all in all an okay read, read it if you have read the others. It didn't make me excited to read more Beddor books though.

Mailbox Monday - 11/30

Mailbox Monday can be found at: The Printed Page

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

I got another ton of books this week. Most of them were from my wishlist. I am not going to comment on all of them individually. Needless to say I want to read them all! The only book that I acquired in a different way was "Band Goes the Troll", this one I got through the Amazon Vine program.

So check out all the awesome books I got below! Hope you all have a good week and happy reading :-)

"Faefever" (Fever, Book 4) by Karen Marie Moning

First Sentence: "I'd die for him."
From "He calls me his Queen of the Night. I’d die for him. I’d kill for him, too.

When MacKayla Lane receives a torn page from her dead sister’s journal, she is stunned by Alina’s desperate words. And now MacKayla knows that her sister’s killer is close. But evil is closer. And suddenly the sidhe-seer is on the hunt: For answers. For revenge. And for an ancient book of dark magic so evil, it corrupts anyone who touches it. Mac’s quest for the Sinsar Dubh takes her into the mean, shape-shifting streets of Dublin, with a suspicious cop on her tail. Forced into a dangerous triangle of alliance with V’lane, an insatiable Fae prince of lethally erotic tastes, and Jericho Barrons, a man of primal desires and untold secrets, Mac is soon locked in a battle for her body, mind, and soul."

"The Final Empire" (Book 1, Mistborn Trilogy) by Brandon Sanderson

First Sentence: "Ash fell from the sky."
From "Brandon Sanderson, fantasy’s newest master tale spinner, author of the acclaimed debut Elantris, dares to turn a genre on its head by asking a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails? What kind of world results when the Dark Lord is in charge? The answer will be found in the Mistborn Trilogy, a saga of surprises and magical martial-arts action that begins in Mistborn.

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot.
But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed."

"Soulless" by Christopher Golden

First Sentence: "Curtains of punishing rain fell upon the sea of dark umbrellas populating the Manhattan sidewalks, commuters hurrying to get to work on time."
From "Times Square, New York City: The first ever mass séance is broadcasting live on the Sunrise morning show. If it works, the spirits of the departed on the other side will have a brief window -- just a few minutes -- to send a final message to their grieving loved ones.

Clasping hands in an impenetrable grip, three mediums call to their spirit guides as the audience looks on in breathless anticipation. The mediums slump over, slackjawed -- catatonic. And in cemeteries surrounding Manhattan, fragments of old corpses dig themselves out of the ground....

The spirits have returned. The dead are walking. They will seek out those who loved them in life, those they left behind...but they are savage and they are hungry. They are no longer your mother or father, your brother or sister, your best friend or lover.

The horror spreads quickly, droves of the ravenous dead seeking out the living -- shredding flesh from bone, feeding. But a disparate group of unlikely heroes -- two headstrong college rivals, a troubled gang member, a teenage pop star and her bodyguard -- is making its way to the center of the nightmare, fighting to protect their loved ones, fighting for their lives, and fighting to end the madness"

"The Rise of the Wyrm Lord" (Book 2, The Door Within Trilogy) by Wayne Thomas Batson

First Sentence: "Thunder rolled, heavy and abrupt, shaking the windowpanes of Aidan's room."
From "Separated from his friend by a thousand miles and unable to return to The Realm of Glimpses himself, Aidan Thomas needs a way to reach Robby with the message of King Eliam, the one true King.

Enter Antoinette Lynn Reed, a bright but headstrong young lady who believes in the Scrolls of Alleble and has a passion for full-contact Kendo. When Aidan discovers that Antoinette has been called to enter The Realm, he solicits her help to find Robby's Glimpse before it is too late.

When she arrives in Alleble, Antoinette finds the kingdom is in turmoil. Alleble's allies are inexplicably beginning to turn away, renouncing former ties with King Eliam. And there are rumors that the dark Prince of Paragory is seeking an ancient evil to crush Alleble once and for all.

Can Antoinette and a team of Alleble's finest knights learn the secret of Paragory's growing power? And will they be able to stop the Rise of the Wyrm Lord?"

"The Chosen One" by Carol Lynch Williams

First Sentence: "If I was going to kill the Prophet," I say, not even keeping my voice low, "I'd do it in Africa."
From "Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever."

"Bang Goes a Troll" (An Awfully Beastful Business) by David Sniden, Matthew Morgan, and Guy Macdonald

First Sentence: "High on a snowy monutaintop, a blizzard was howling."
From "When a messenger bat arrives at the RSPCB, boy-werewolf Ulf receives a warning that beasts are in trouble in the wild. Unaware of the danger he is facing, Ulf soon uncovers foul play: A rare colony of trolls is being smoked out from their caves to be used as game in an evil beast-hunting preserve. It's up to Ulf to save the day!"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King (4.5/5 stars)

I've been wanting to read this book for a while. It ended up being a very creative and intriguing read; I enjoyed it a lot.

Emer Morrisey was a terrifying pirate in the 1600's who was on a quest for independence and to find her childhood sweetheart. Just when her and her sweetie have reunited and decided to give up pirating for good she is killed and cursed with the Dust of 100 Dogs. She has to live through 100 lives as a dog and then she will finally take human shape again; through it all her memories are intact. Now she has been reborn as Saffron; she is a teenage daughter in a lower income family. Her family thinks Saffron, with her great intellect, will be their ticket out of the poorhouse. What they don't know is that Saffron has unfinished business from her past life as Emer; college and a great job are not part of those plans...going to Jamaica to hunt down buried treasure are.

This book was structured in an interesting way. The chapters alternate between Saffron and Emer. Saffron's chapters are dedicated to her struggles as a teenager trying to get on her quest to Jamaica. Emer's chapters start when she is a young girl and follow her history up to her rise to piracy and, eventually, death. Interspersed between these chapters are short sections of "Dog Facts"; these sections give pointers on how to be/raise a dog based on the extensive experience of many lifetimes. The writing style itself is nothing special; but is very readable and engaging.

I thought this was a very creative book. Emer/Saffron is a very fascinating character and is very engaging. The side characters are not as well developed or engaging as Saffron, but they are all somewhat interesting. The plot was also well done. The switches between Emer and Saffron feel very natural and make the story flow very well. The plot was also very gripping and made the book hard to put down. The main driver is wondering if Saffron will ever find Emer's buried treasure.

I wouldn't necessarily call this a young adult read because it is extremely violent both in sexual and plain old gory ways. Saffron often dreams of torturing the people she deals with daily in very creative and well-explained gory ways. Many of the less pleasant aspects of Emer's live are also detailed. She is raped and tortured, she tortures others. Emer's way of life is just extremely violent and occurs in a difficult time for humanity in general. I don't think the violence is uncalled for or even odd for the time that it takes place in, but it might give more sensitive readers pause.

Overall though it is a read I can recommend. The book is great for both its creativity and the peek it takes into the 1600's. Those who don't tolerate reading about violence, rape, and torture may want to pass on this book though. I will definitely be looking into other books by King.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund (4/5 stars)

I was excited to read this book by Peterfreund. I mean it's about evil, carnivorous unicorns, how can you not be excited? It was a very creative book and pretty engaging.

Astrid is your typical teenage girl, except she has a mother than has raised her on stories about evil, man-eating unicorns. Things are going pretty good for Astrid, that is until her boyfriend gets gored by an evil unicorn while they are out in the woods making out. From there things get kind of weird. Astrid is shipped off to a convent in Rome by her overzealous mother, where supposedly, she is going to learn how to become a unicorn hunter. Apparently Astrid comes from a long line of female unicorn hunters.

The best thing about this book was the creativity. The whole idea of evil rampaging unicorns is a lot of fun and Peterfreund does an excellent job of integrating the existence of unicorns into current history and society. Astrid is a great character that has a dry sense of humor and a pretty good sense of self. The book itself clips along at a good pace and is engaging. At the end of the book you want to find out more about these huntresses.

There was a part mid-way through the book after their trainer left that things slowed down a bit too much. It never got boring, but it didn't match the rest of the pace of the book. Also this book takes place in modern time, which for some reason I was expecting more of a fantasy. It is more of a paranormal or maybe urban fantasy type of book. While Astrid and her cousin were both engaging characters, I didn't find the side characters as engaging as I would have liked. Maybe there were just too many side characters or maybe enough background wasn't provided. Lastly there wasn't as much hunting and fighting as I expected; there was a lot of time spent on the social aspects of being a huntress...mainly keeping your virginity.

This was a good read. It will appeal mostly to a young female audience; but fans of unicorns and huntresses may also find it appealing. The main strength of the story is the creativeness of it and the ease with which the unicorns are brought into the modern day world. The characterization of the side characters could have been more well done and the action scenes more plentiful and better detailed; but all in all it is a decent story. I will be keeping an eye out to see what other books along the fantasy vein Peterfreund comes up with.

Waiting on Wednesday - 11/25

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

This week my WoW book is "Radiant Shadows" (Wicked Lovely, Book 4) by Melissa Marr. This is the 4th out of 5 books. The last book in this series was okay, and I am looking forward to reading the next one. The cover art was just released last week and it is beautiful just like all of the covers have been :-)

"Radiant Shadows" (Wicked Lovely, Book 4) by Melissa Marr
Pages: 352 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: Apr 20th, 2010

Synopsis: " Hunger for nourishment.
Hunger for touch.
Hunger to belong.

Half-human and half-faery, Ani is driven by her hungers.

Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries’ coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani’s death.

Ani isn’t one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin’s plans—and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?

Alluring romance, heart-stopping danger, and sinister intrigue combine in Melissa Marr’s next volume of Melissa Marr’s New York Times bestselling Wicked Lovely series."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Unbound edited by P.N. Elrod (4/5 stars)

This anthology includes 5 new stories by popular paranormal authors. In all cases (except for Marr's story) the stories are set in preexisting worlds created by the authors. My favorite of the bunch were "Ley Line Drifter" which gives you a closer look at Jenks' family and "Rekoning" which introduced me to Jeaniene Frost's writing. This book made me want to learn more both about Frost and Drake and read some of their series. "Dark Matters" by Petttersson is an important read for those of us reading the "Signs of the Zodiac" series as it explains in full some of the events that happened in "City of Souls". Marr's first adult story "Two Lines" was also a pleasant surprise and I liked it quite a bit more than her young adult series.

In general the stories in this book tend more towards action/urban fantasy than romance. I personally enjoyed that. All in all a great collection of stories. See below for more detail on each story in this anthology.

"Ley Line Drifter" by Kim Harrison (5/5 stars)
An excellent story set in Harrison's Hollows world, it's about Jenks helping a fellow pixie. You learn more about pixie culture and there is a ton of action. Given the ending I am wondering if what Jenks and Ivy unleashed will come back to haunt them in the next Hollows book.

"Reckoning" by Jeaniene Frost (5/5 stars)
A prequel to the Night Huntress series by Frost. This story tells about a vampire named Bones who is hired by the New Orleans Queen vampire to take out some serial killer Ghouls. On top of this hunt for the killers, someone is trying to kill Bones. I have never read any of Frost's Night Huntress books but based on this story I will have to check them out. I like her writing style; no-nonsense and lots of action. Bones was an intriguing character and Frost creates an interesting variation on paranormal alternate worlds.

"Dark Matters" by Vicki Pettersson (3/5 stars)
This is a prequel to her "Signs of the Zodiac series". It tells the background/history of JJ/Hunter. It was good to read a story that made the events in the "City of Souls" (book 4) make more sense. I still don't understand why "City of Souls" couldn't have explained what this story did. If you are reading the "Signs of the Zodiac" series then reading this story is a must. As for the story itself I didn't like it all that much (aside from the info it gives). The story is more a romance than anything and much of the action is pushed aside for numerous sex scenes. It was okay, but nothing to write home about.

"The Dead, the Damned, and the Forgotten" by Jocelynn Drake (4/5 stars)

Prequel to the Dark Days series by Jocelynn Drake; I have not read any books in this series. This story follows Mira as she tries to track down a nightwalker killer and avoid assassination herself. Both Mira and Knox are intriguing characters. The story was action packed and hints at an interesting world. An enjoyable read. I will have to check out the Dark Days series eventually to see how I like the full novels.

"Two Lines" by Melissa Marr (4/5 stars)

This story tells about Eaven, she is a human that will become a glasitig is she ever does two things: kill and have sex. She is hell bent on staying human. Things get out of control when she starts hunting a drug lord. When her grandmother provides a sexy bodyguard for her Eaven begins to wonder if her desire to stay human is worth the sacrifice. Not as much action as the other stories, this story presented a very unique world with supernatural creatures different than I was used to seeing. I actually like Marr's writing style in this story quite a bit more than her writing style in her "Wicked Lovely" series.

Teaser Tuesday - 11/24

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 "Unound" Edited by P. N. Elrod

Here it is: "Together they listened to destruction as glass shattered and heavy things hit the earth. Slowly the roaring wind faded to leave the frighted calls of people and the growing sounds of sirens" Pg. 36

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5/5 stars)

This was another one of those books where I wasn't sure what to expect. I am super glad I read it though! It was a thoroughly entertaining, amusing, and heartbreaking read.

Death is the narrator of this novel in the most literal sense. He follows the story of a young girl Liesel. Liesel is a young girl following a tough road. Her mother, brother and her flee to a small town near Munich. When they get there her brother dies, and her mother takes her to be put into a foster home. Liesel finds a decent home with her foster parents and eventually befriends a young boy named Rudy. This book follows both Liesel's journey and the journey of those around her as they struggle through trying to make a living in Nazi Germany.

This was a fabulous book. Death as a narrator is genius. He is portrayed as a guy who does his job, but doesn't relish in it. He does what needs to be done and survives by looking at things with a dark wit and sardonic nature. Much of the narrative is darkly humorous and witty coming from Death's perspective. Occasionally Death bemoans the fact that Nazi Germany kept him extremely busy and wore him to the bone. Death occasionally gets off topic and rambles about what death a certain side character met, or a time when one of the characters narrowly avoided him. The narrative of Death is not all humor though; he is touched by compassion for humanity and sometimes struggles with the trials he sees humans put through.

Liesel is another fascinating character in what is a vast array of fascinating characters. She starts stealing books before she can even read them. In the end it is her book stealing (and reading) skills that help put the town at ease in a time of trial; in the end it is her book reading that saves her. It was fascinating to watch how Liesel and her friends struggle with being proper Germans in a Nazi Germany. You always here a lot about the races the Nazi's oppressed, but you don't often read about how oppressed the normal German people were under Hilter's thumb. Rudy is, of course, very interesting in his own right as is, Max, the Jew Liesel's family helps hide.

I was really impressed by how much depth and history all of the characters, even minor ones, bring to the story. All of the characters seem so real and you feel for them all. You even feel sorry for Death. Yet at the same time most of the characters look at their lives with a type of dark humor that makes life bearable.

This is a long book and not a quick read; but every page was worth it. The story always has some urgency as things get worse and worse for the townspeople, the Jews, and Germany in general. Towards the end I found myself cringing as I got closer and closer to what I knew wasn't going to be a very happy ending. Keep in mind this is about Nazi Germany, not much ended happy in that time for anyone. At times this book will make you laugh, at times it makes you angry, and at times it will make you cry. It is wonderful for a book to be able to evoke all those emotions, and to be honest the book took a couple days to process after I read it.

I think everyone should read this book. I think everyone's kids should read this book. People need to remember and know what happened in Nazi Germany and this perspective, from a common German girl's viewpoint, is a great way to get a relatively unbiased viewpoint. I will definitely read anything else that Zusak writes; this book is a keeper.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange (2.5/5 stars)

This is a book that tells the story of what happens between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy after "Pride and Prejudice" ends. It was an okay book. I was a bit disappointed in the simple dialogue and the lagging plot.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy get married and are embarking on their wedding tour. Elizabeth is surprised by Mr. Darcy's quickly changing moods. Then he tells her that they are not going on a tour of the Lakes but instead to Paris. As Elizabeth grows increasingly depressed over Mr. Darcy's lack of attention and fickle nature; she wonders if maybe they should have married at all. What she doesn't know is that there may be more to Mr. Darcy's moods than she could have ever imagined.

First let's talk about what was good in this book. Grange did a wonderful job of seamlessly tying this story in with "Pride and Prejudice". Grange recalls scenes from the original book that support her evidence for Mr. Darcy's strange behavior. She does this very well. She makes Mr. Darcy being a vampire seem like a credible thing. Grange also does an excellent job of integrating vampires into normal European society in a very believable way.

Unfortunately there was a lot about this book that I didn't like. The fact that it is called "Mr. Darcy, Vampyre" takes much of the tension in the plot away from the reader. Elizabeth spends the majority of the book figuring out that Mr. Darcy is a vampire. The reader knows this from the beginning, so it takes a lot of the mystery away from the story. Additionally I found that Elizabeth had been dumbed down as a character. Much of the sharpness and wit she showed in "Pride and Prejudice" is mellowed; for much of the book I was frustrated by how she blindly followed Mr. Darcy's lead. It took her forever to question him about his actions; the original Elizabeth as portrayed by Austen would never have taken that long.

I also found the dialogue in general to be disappointing. At points the dialogue was very witty; but much of the time it sounded more awkward and forced than free-flowing and snappy. There were a number of times, especially early in the story, where I thought the dialogue was very immature and couldn't imagine any of the original characters speaking that way. "Pride and Prejudice" was all about the witty banter; and this book missed that mark for me.

Lastly the pacing was a bit off. The beginning of the book starts to drag on as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy go from one location to another; then suddenly there is a ton of action packed into the last chapter. I wish that the action had been spread out more; it would have been nice to see more of how Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth dealt with him being a vampire and it would have been nice to have the end quest take up some more page space.

In summary, the book was an okay read. It is a nice fluffy diversion if you are really into vampires and "Pride and Prejudice". Personally though, if you are in interested into taking "Pride and Prejudice" into a paranormal realm I would read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" instead; this zombie version retains much of the original story's wit and adds to it a little. I probably won't be checking out any other of Grange's books; I just wasn't that impressed with her writing style.

Mailbox Monday - 11/23

Mailbox Monday can be found at
The Printed Page

I received a ton of books this week. All of them from It's a wonderful place to swap books. All of these were from my wish list on there. I am not going to go through all of them individually, there are just too many! You can read about them below though. Needless to say I am excited about reading them all :-)

Hope you all have a good week! Happy reading :-)

"The Storyteller's Daughter" by Cameron Dokey

First Sentence: "A story is alive, as you and I are."
From "Once upon a time, there lived a king whose heart was heavy. He had been betrayed by the woman he loved. Though the queen's schemes were discoverd before she could deprive her husband of his life, her dying curse killed something deep within him: his ability to love and trust.

And so he makes a terrible resolution: He will take a bride for one night only. In the morning she will face a horrible fate. Then he will choose another. Nothing can change his course, until one brave woman steps forwward. Shahrazad, the Storyteller's Daughter.

Steeped in the ancient art of her mother's people, Shahrazad embarks upon a perilous course. With words alone, she will seek to restore the king's heart. As she tells her tales a bond forms between them that neither can deny. But will it be strong enough to hold them together when unexpected danger erupts?"

"The New Policeman" by Kate Thompson

First Sentence: "J.J. Liddy and his best friend, Jimmy Dowling, often has arguments."
From "Who knows where the time goes?
There never seems to be enough time in Kinvara, or anywhere else in Ireland for that matter. When J.J.'s mother says time's what she really wants for her birthday, J.J. decides to find her some. He's set himself up for an impossible task . . . until a neighbor reveals a secret. There's a place where time stands still—at least, it's supposed to. J.J. can make the journey there, but he'll have to vanish from his own life to do so. Can J.J. find the leak between the two worlds? Will a shocking rumor about his family's past come back to haunt him? And what does it all have to do with the village's new policeman . . . ?"

"Unquiet Dreams" (Connor Grey, Book 2) by Mark del Franco

First Sentence: "No good phone calls come at seven o'clock in the morning."
From"Fueled by a mysterious new drug, Celtic fairies and Teutonic elves battle for turf and power-with humans caught in the middle. As the body count rises, Connor Grey uncovers a vast conspiracy that threatens to destroy not only the city, but the world."

"My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding" edited by P.N. Elrod

First Sentence: "Hattie McCoy smoothed the front of her flowing white dress and sat down by an adjacent tree."
From "Werewolves, vampires, witches, voodoo, Elvis---and weddings.
An “ordinary” wedding can get crazy enough, so can you imagine what happens when otherworldly creatures are involved? Nine of the hottest authors of paranormal fiction answer that question in this delightful collection of supernatural wedding stories. What’s the seating plan when rival clans of werewolves and vampires meet under the same roof? How can a couple in the throes of love overcome traps set by feuding relatives---who are experts at voodoo? Will you have a good marriage if your high-seas wedding is held on a cursed ship? How do you deal with a wedding singer who’s just a little too good at impersonating Elvis?"

"Pretty Monsters" by Kelly Link

First Sentence: "All of this happened because a boy I knew named Miles Sperry decided to go into the resurrectionist business and dig up the grave of his girlfriend, Bethany Baldwin, who had been dead for not quite a year."
From "Kelly Link has lit up adult literary publishing—and Viking is honored to publish her first YA story collection. Through the lens of Link’s vivid imagination, nothing is what it seems, and everything deserves a second look. From the multiple award-winning “The Faery Handbag,” in which a teenager’s grandmother carries an entire village (or is it a man-eating dog?) in her handbag, to the near-future of “The Surfer,” whose narrator (a soccer-playing skeptic) waits with a planeload of refugees for the aliens to arrive, Link’s stories are funny and full of unexpected insights and skewed perspectives on the world. Her fans range from Michael Chabon to Peter Buck of R.E.M. to Holly Black of Spiderwick Chronicles fame. Now teens can have their world rocked, too! "

"Dragonbreath" by Ursula Vernon

First Sentence: "The sea was calm...but then the silence was broken by the fearsome sound of pirates!"
From "It’s not easy for Danny Dragonbreath to be the sole mythical creature in a school for reptiles and amphibians—especially because he can’t breathe fire like other dragons (as the school bully loves to remind him). But having a unique family comes in handy sometimes, like when his sea-serpent cousin takes Danny and his best iguana friend on a mindboggling underwater tour, complete with vomiting sea cucumbers and giant squid. It sure beats reading the encyclopedia to research his ocean report . . .

Using a hybrid of comic-book panels and text, Ursula Vernon introduces an irresistible set of characters with a penchant for getting themselves into sticky situations. It’s perfect for both the classroom and the Wimpy Kid set"

"Thorn Queen" (Dark Swan, Book 2) by Richelle Mead

First Sentence: "Sad fact: lots of kids know how to use knives and guns."
From "Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire, paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld. But after her last battle, she s also become queen of the Thorn Land. It s hardly an envious life, not with her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and Eugenie eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind. And now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one--except Eugenie--seems willing to find out why.

Eugenie has spilled plenty of fey blood in her time, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and nursing a very personal grudge. And the men in her life aren t making things any easier. Her boyfriend Kiyo is preoccupied with his pregnant ex, and sexy fey king Dorian always poses a dangerous distraction. With or without their help, Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in an unpredictable power she can barely control. Reluctant queen or not, Eugenie has sworn to do her duty--even if it means facing the darkest--and deadliest--side of her nature..."

"Best Served Cold" by Joe Abercrombie

First Sentence: "The sunrise was the colour of bad blood."
From "Springtime in Styria. And that means war.
There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. Armies march, heads roll and cities burn, while behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.
War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste. Betrayed and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.
Her allies include Styria's least reliable drunkard, Styria's most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that's all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started...
Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.
BEST SERVED COLD is the new standalone novel set in the world of Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy."

"Last Arguement of Kings" (First Law, Book 3)

First Sentence: "Superior Glokta stood in the hall, and waited."
From "The end is coming.

Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him-but it's going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the king of the Northmen still stands firm, and there's only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy: it's time for the Bloody-Nine to come home.

With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no one is safe, and no one can be trusted. As his days with a sword are far behind him, it's fortunate that he's deadly with his remaining weapons: blackmail, threats, and torture.

Jezal dan Luthar has decided that winning glory is too painful an undertaking and turned his back on soldiering for a simple life with the woman he loves. But love can be painful too-and glory has a nasty habit of creeping up on a man when he least expects it.
The king of the Union lies on his deathbed, the peasants revolt, and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No one believes that the shadow of war is about to fall across the heart of the Union. Only the First of the Magi can save the world, but there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, than to break the First Law..."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Elephant's Magician by Kate DiCamillo (5/5 stars)

I have read DiCamillo's story "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" previously and really liked it. When I saw she had written another book I was really excited to read it. This is a fabulous book; but touches on more adult topics than her other books.

Peter Augustus Duchene is a 10 year old boy who has lost his father to war, his mother to childbirth, and his sister at birth. He lives with a military friend of his father's. The problem is that Peter remembers hearing his sister cry and is convinced that she isn't dead. A fortuneteller tells his that he will find his sister if he follows the elephant; but he can't figure out what she means as there are no elephants in Peter's life. Then a magician tries to perform a feat of magic that goes horribly wrong. Peter needs to figure out how the lonely elephant will help him find his sister. The elephant needs to get home, but before that it will open the eyes of the citizens of Peter's city to the fact that wondrous things can happen.

This was a wonderful book. The characters are engaging and colorful, the writing wonderful. Like DiCamillo's other works the writing style follows classic fairy tale-type prose and results in a darkly atmospheric setting. The story is interspersed with wonderful illustrations by Yojo Tanaka, that fit the mood of the story perfectly.

The book itself is pretty small, at most a couple hours of reading. It seems like it would be a good book to read to children as it starts. As I continued to read it though I think many of the adult characters' pondering and some sensitive topics might make this more suited to the young adult (or older) crowd. At one point the elephant contemplates suicide and Peter's caretaker is occasionally quite cruel. Much of the story centers around characters outside of Peter himself and these characters spend a lot of time contemplating how the wonder of an elephant appearing in the city changes their perception of their lives, because if that can happen anything can happen. I think these contemplations will be lost on a younger child and they may find the book to be very slow moving and boring at parts.

I personally found these contemplations to be fascinating and thought-provoking. This is the kind of book that sounds very good when read out-loud and is very lyrical. The story itself is hopeful as well as thoughtful; although the overall atmosphere is very dark and dreary. I thought it was just a superb story. I look forward to reading DiCamillo's future works and will keep an eye out for her future publications.

News - Edge Book 2 by Ilona Andrews, Cherie Priest's Clockwork Universe, Generation Dead Book 3, Jaz Parks Book 6, and Anita Blake Books 18 and 19

Okay so lots of book series news today. At least for me. Some of this might be old news to other.

Ilona Andrews posted on her website that the 2nd book in "The Edge" series now has a name: "Bayou Moon". You can read more about it here.

Cherie Priest announced (a while back) that there will be two more books in the Clockwork Universe. "Boneshaker" which I reviewed here is the first. It will be followed by two books set in the same universe but with different characters. "Clementine" will be the second book released in Spring of 2010 and "Dreadnought" will be the third book released in Fall of 2010.

The third book in the Generation Dead series by Daniel Waters will be called "Passing Strange" and will be released in May of 2010. I loved the first book in this series and am anxiously awaiting the second book from my library.

The seventh book in the Jaz Parks series by Jennifer Rardin will be titled "Bitten in Two" and will be released in 2010. There are 8 books currently planned for this series.

Lastly there are two Anita Blake books coming out next year. Book 18 will be titled "Flirt" and is due to be released in Jan. 2010 and book 19 will be called "Bullet" and that will be released in June 2010. So lots of fun for Anita Blake fans next year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grave Secret (Harper Connelly, Book 4) by Charlaine Harris (4/5 stars)

This is the fourth (and surmised last) novel in the Harper Connelly mysteries series. This was a pretty good book and it tied up a lot of the mystery surrounding Harper and Tolliver's family.

In this book Harper and Tolliver are doing a job near the area they were raised in as children. During Harper's reading she unintentionally upsets her client by revealing some unknown information about death of one of the people in the cemetery. She thinks nothing of it until someone shoots Tolliver through the window of their motel. During a visit with Tolliver's brother, Mark, they find out that their dad (Tolliver's dad, Harper's step-dad) just got let out of jail. All of these things start piling on top of each other; someone's out to kill Harper, Tolliver's dad won't leave them alone, there is a spotting of Harper's sister who went missing twelve years earlier, and Harper's most recent client is out to get some answers. Could it all be coincidence? Or is everything that is happening related?

This was a great mystery. I was a bit concerned when the beginning of the book read more like a complex soap opera than anything else. But to Harris's credit there are a lot of entangling relationships to set up at the beginning of the book. Maybe a third way through the book things really start to pick up pace as the mystery grabs hold and Harper is constantly fearing for her life.

I have always liked Tolliver and Harper's characters. They are believable and vulnerable; and yet, they do their best to be good people. I loved how Harris dealt with their evolving relationship. Harris does a good job with all of the characters in this series.

The plot was twisted and somewhat complicated. I enjoyed it. The pace of the book is definitely relentless and griping once you get past the first third. Poor Harper goes through so much over and over again. It was a well put together book, with a good pace, and a good plot.

I also enjoyed how everything was wrapped up. You get answers to most of your questions, there are a couple small unknowns left, but the book sums up everything nicely and leaves the characters in good spots. This has been a fun series to read all around and this book was no exception to that.

Waiting on Wednesday - 11/18

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

This week my WoW book is "Changeless" (The Parasol Protectorate, Book 2) by Gail Carriger. I just finished reading the first book in this series "Soulless" and really liked it. Now I am dying for book 2 to come out!

"Changeless" (Parasol Protectorate, Book 2) by Gail Carriger
Pages: 400 pages
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: Mar 30th, 2010

Synopsis: "Alexia Tarabotti, now Lady Maccon, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her into the backwaters of ugly waistcoats, Scotland, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only A soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it. "

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (5/5 stars)

I will be honest I picked up this book because I loved the cover, then I read the premise and it sounded interesting. I am so glad I read this book, it was an awesome and wonderful read.

Calpurnia is an eleven year old girl who lives in south at the turn of the 19th century. This book takes place in the summer of 1899; just as wonderful things like Coca-cola, telephones, and cars are being introduced to the region. Calpurnia (usually called Callie) is struggling through a long hot summer as the only girl in the family (she has six brothers). Then one day she wonders why the green grasshoppers and the yellow ones are different. She decides to ask her somewhat intimidating grandfather. Her grandfather opens up a whole new world to her. He used to be a naturalist for National Geographic and now he is teaching Callie all about the science behind nature, how to be a good scientist, and how to be a naturalist. Callie loves spending time learning about how to be a good scientist, unfortunately as the only daughter in the family, domestic issues rear their ugly head. Callie is expected to learn things like sewing, cooking, and tatting. She struggles with her parents expectations of her as a daughter even as she gets deeper and deeper into the science of what it means to be a naturalist.

I loved this book. The book is written in a wonderful way and has a great sense of humor about things. All of the characters in the book are well developed; and Kelly writes in such a way that you are really brought into the South during that hot summer. There are little things added in that keep the story engaging and give it some urgency; so it ends up being very hard to put down and quite the page turner.

Calpurnia is an intriguing character. She is smart and she is fair in how she judges things (although sometimes it is hard to be fair). Even as she hates learning domestic chores she does grudgingly recognize the value in learning them. She struggles with trying to figure out how she can fit science into her parents' idea of what a girl should be. This insight and thoughtfulness makes for a wonderful character. At one point she recognizes the futility of her mother's work as she discusses how her poor mother labors over house, cloths and food and then has nothing to show for it when it all needs to be done again the next day.

Callie also has a wonderful sense of humor; at one point wondering why she can't get a wife of her own to do all of these horrible chores. Much of the second half of this book has Callie struggling with gender roles. She sees the necessity of them, but she can't fathom why her brothers can't do domestic work so she can have more time for science. It is people like Callie, that made it so women like myself can make a good career out of science without causing too much trouble in this day and age.

Kelly does a wonderful job of showing life in the south as it was at that time. I loved watching the characters experience phones, cars, and Coca-cola for the very first time. The whole book was just a pleasure to read as you witness Callie's brothers' antics as well as her own.

Kelly also did an excellent job of presenting scientific theory in a wonderful and interesting way. Kelly really captures the wonder of discovery and the things that drive scientists to do what they do. This book will make you re-examine the world around you and take new wonder in everything you see. As a scientist myself, this book really made me remember why I do what I do.

I really loved this book. Not only was it a great portrait of that late 1800's, but Calpurnia really captured my heart both as a girl and as a scientist. I was a little disappointed that we didn't find out what Calpurnia's future was going to be. But, that wasn't the point of the story and the story ended as it should have; it ended realistically. Still, I can't help but wish I could read more about Calpurnia in a future book.

This is definitely a keeper. A great book for all ages, genders, and interests. I will definitely be keeping tabs on Jacqueline Kelly to see what wonderful thing she writes next.

Teaser Tuesday - 11/17

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 "Grave Surprise" (Harper Connelly, Book 4) by Charlaine Harris

Here it is: "Are you telling me someone threw a rattlesnake at Granddaddy? And that gave him a heart attack, and then that someone just left him?" Pg. 9

Monday, November 16, 2009

Storm Glass (Glass, Book 1) by Maria V. Snyder (3/5 stars)

This is the first book in the Glass trilogy by Maria v. Snyder. This book follows Opal, the glass maker involved in some of the Poison Study stories. It was an okay book; but the characters lack a lot of the charisma seen in the Poison Study series. I actually listened to this on audio book and the audio book was very well done.

Something is wrong with the Stormdancers' orbs. Storm season has almost arrived and two Stormdancers have been killed by shattering orbs. Opal and her mentor are sent to the Stormdancer clan to see if they can help fix the glass the orbs are created out of. There Opal meets Kade the only surviving Stormdancer in the clan. Upon completion of that mission Opal is sent on a mission with her hated classmate, Pazia, to look into some black market diamonds and also tasked with building a glass shop in the keep. The incidents with the orbs and the diamonds seem intertwined, but how? Can Opal figure out what is going in without getting into too much trouble?

The plot and storyline were very well done. Snyder does well creating intricate plots and has a nice writing style that is descriptive, serene, and easy to read. The world of Citia is well thought out and this series flows seamlessly with the first series. The adventures get a bit overdone; you feel like Opal never has time to take a break she is constantly thrown from one panic to the next. This relentless pace make have had some impact on the biggest thing I didn't like about the book which was the characters.

Unfortunately Snyder missed the mark with the characters in this book. Opal is a hard character to like. She spends much of the book in uncertainty, constantly feeling sorry for herself, and needing constant assurance of how talented she is. For some reason the surrounding characters constantly tell Opal how clever and smart she is despite the fact that Opal is dense and always confused about what is going on. There were a number of times during the book where it took Opal many pages to realize that something straightforward was going to happen. My husband and I listened to this together; and many times we would end up rolling our eyes as it took Opal forever to think her way through something that we figured out instantly. Then Ulrik or Kade would be "Oh Opal you are so smart!" It was ridiculous. The story would have been much better without Opal. The only thing I did enjoy about Opal's character were the increasingly interesting powers she developed as the book went on.

The other characters were not much better. Ulrick, was boorish and selfish. I couldn't understand why Opal liked him, outside of the fact he was cute and could blow glass. The whole deal with Ulrick shadowing Opal was a bit overdone; I understood Ulrick was shadowing Opal, I didn't need as many reminders as Snyder gave. The villains were also fairly one dimensional; minimal time as given to their backgrounds or personalities. The only character I actually found interesting was Kade and he was out of the picture most of the time.

In summary the plot development and writing style were very similar to the Poison Study series. The characters in this book have none of the fire and spirit to them that Yelena and Valek did though. I think the book would have been vastly improved with either different or more in depth characterization. Will I read the second book in the series? I am not sure right now. Opal's character drove me nuts; she was just so dense. But, I do really like Kade, so following the rest of the story for his sake might be worth it. We will see.

Mailbox Monday - 11/16

Mailbox Monday can be found at: The Printed Page

I was a bit light on books this week. Got in three new ones. The first one "Mr. Darcy, Vampyre" is on loan from a friend. I was mildly curious about this book and my friend gave it to me to check out. The second two books I got through I have been looking forward to reading both "The Affinity Bridge" and "Anathem" for quite some time. I have loved all of Neal Stephenson's previous works, so I hope "Anathem" follows them.

Details are below. Hope you all have a great week and happy reading!

"Mr. Darcy, Vampyre" by Amanda Grange

First Sentence: "Elizabeth Bennet's wedding morning was one of soft mists and mellow sunshine."
From "Amanda Grange's style and wit bring readers back to Jane Austen's timeless storytelling, but always from a very unique and unusual perspective, and now Grange is back with an exciting and completely new take on Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre starts where Pride and Prejudice ends and introduces a dark family curse so perfectly that the result is a delightfully thrilling, spine-chilling, breathtaking read. A dark, poignant and visionary continuation of Austen's beloved story, this tale is full of danger, darkness and immortal love."

"Anathem" by Neal Stephenson

First Sentence: "'Do you neighbors burn one another alive?' was how Fraa Orolo began his conversation with Artisan Flec."
From "For ten years Fraa Erasmas, a young avout, has lived in a cloistered sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside world. But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change—and Erasmas will become a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world, as he follows his destiny to the most inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.

Anathem is the latest miraculous invention by the New York Times bestselling author of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle—a work of astonishing scope, intelligence, and imagination."

"The Affinity Bridge" by George Mann

First Sentence: "The flies. Always the damn flies."
From "Welcome to the bizarre and dangerous world of Victorian London, a city teetering on the edge of revolution. Its people are ushering in a new era of technology, dazzled each day by unfamiliar inventions. Airships soar in the skies over the city, while ground trains rumble through the streets and clockwork automatons are programmed to carry out menial tasks in the offices of lawyers, policemen, and journalists.

But beneath this shiny veneer of progress lurks a sinister side.

Queen Victoria is kept alive by a primitive life-support system, while her agents, Sir Maurice Newbury and his delectable assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes, do battle with enemies of the crown, physical and supernatural. This time Newbury and Hobbes are called to investigate the wreckage of a crashed airship and its missing automaton pilot, while attempting to solve a string of strangulations attributed to a mysterious glowing policeman, and dealing with a zombie plague that is ravaging the slums of the capital.

Get ready to follow dazzling young writer George Mann to a London unlike any you’ve ever seen and into an adventure you will never forget."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner (3/5 stars)

I had been wanting to read this book for a long time. Overall it is an interesting book with a creative premise. I thought it was okay, but it didn't blow me away.

It's been twenty years since the fairies destroyed the human world by suffusing everything with wild magic; and twenty years since we did worse to their world. Liza is a girl raised in a town where magic is feared. Anyone with magic is killed. Then Liza's mother gives birth to a baby with silver spun hair and the baby is left to die. After that things start to change. Liza's mother leaves, leaving Liza with her abusive father; then the unthinkable starts to happens, Liza starts to show signs of having magic herself. When she flees the village and wanders into the woods after dark; disobeying the greatest rule of their village, she has no more thought than to escape and find her mother. But what happens when she finds out that her village's way of life isn't the only way of life? What happens when she finds out about the truth behind the magic?

The premise propelling the plot is amazingly creative. A post-apocalyptic world where the final war between fairy and humans tears the world apart. I love how magic suffused every aspect of the world making it dangerous and desperate. The ways that Simner came up with to incorporate magic into deadly seeds and plants was well done. Unfortunately outside of this, I didn't like much else about this book.

The characters were kind of dull. Even Liza is pretty tame until she finally stands up to her father; which takes a long time. They were okay, just not all that interesting or all that engaging. The writing style was very simplistic and this is a very short book. Really I felt like I was reading a book for younger children, except that the topics that the book dealt with (abuse, world destruction, and death) were much to heavy for a younger age set. I guess I just felt like the writing style dumbed down this fabulous concept way too much. Also the focus of the book is very narrow, involving only a few people in a small area. The scope of the world destruction felt like it should involve, well, the whole world. We never got to see outside of the tiny sphere that made up the characters' lives.

Overall is was an interesting idea that was done in a child-like way; the result for me was an okay story but nothing to write home about. I am glad I was exposed to the idea, I wish it had been implemented with more depth and more engaging characters.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate, Book 1) by Gail Carriger (4/5 stars)

This is the first book in The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. Best I can tell right now this going to be a trilogy. The second book in the series "Changeless" is due out April 2010. This was a fun read; very creative and fast moving.

Alexia is one of the Soulless; basically she was born without a soul. As a Soulless, or preternatural person, she can nullify those with excessive soul, in this case vampires and werewolves. The whole book takes place in an alternate Victorian era Great Britain. The supernaturals have been integrated into British society. Alexia finds her self entangled in a mystery when some vampires and werewolves begin to go missing and other rogue vampires mysteriously appear. Alexia finds that she herself is in danger of being kidnapped. She ends up being involved with the Alpha werewolf of the region, the very muscular and somewhat uncouth, Lord Maccon; in an effort to figure out what is happening. Despite their differences, she finds herself drawn to Lord Maccon and wonders what he wants with a 25 year old spinster like herself.

This book was a fun read. The plot clicks along pretty good pace and Alexia and Lord Maccon have great chemistry together. Alexia is a rebel for her time and has a wonderful biting sense of humor as well as a great sense of self. She is a great character. There were a number of interesting characters in this book; from Alexia's flamboyant rogue vampire friend, to Lord Maccon, to Alexia's butler...the characters are what propel this story and make it intriguing.

There is also a lot of clever world-building in this book. The way Carriger has integrated the supernatural population into Victorian London is clever and seamless. I really enjoyed this twist on the legions of paranormal books out there. The book had me laughing out loud at many points. The scenes between Lord Maccon and Alexia were done tastefully and were very steamy and enrapturing; throwing a good dash of Victorian romance into this book. All in all it was a hard book to put down and when I was finished with it I wanted more.

There were only a couple small things that irritated me about this book. The first was the continuous descriptions of Alexia; we read about her strong nose and olive toned skin a billion times. It got old and I started skimming over many of the repetitive descriptions. I also thought that the story didn't have as much bite as it should have; the action scenes were only so-so and the peril never really seemed as perilous as it should have. Because of this the book seemed a bit fluffly to me at times; that's not to say it wasn't a fun was just more fluff than substance at parts.

All in all I did really enjoy this book. It is a great start to a new series and I absolutely cannot wait to read the next book "Changeless".

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. A. LaFevers (4/5 stars)

This is the first book in the Theodosia Thockmorton series by LaFevers. I actually received the second book "Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris" though the Amazon Vine program and really liked it. After realizing that that was the second book I went back to read this one. The third book "Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus" comes out in April of 2010. This was another great Theodosia book. These are wonderful books for kids interested in Egyptian history, magic, mystery, or just reading about a smart young girl who gets into all sorts of trouble.

In this book Theodosia's mother brings back a whole load of artifacts from Egypt and they are rife with curses. Theodosia has a special talent for being able to sense curses and uses her hard-won knowledge to dispel them. One of the artifacts her mother brings back is the Heart of Egypt. The Heart of Egypt will bring about the fall of England if it is not sent back to Egypt quickly. Unfortunately Theodosia's mother is not the only one interested in it, a nefarious group steals it and it is up to Theodosia, a pick pocket named Sticky Will, and Theodosia's brother Henry to find a way to get that artifact back where it belongs.

LaFevers spins an intriguing and interesting mystery surrounding these Egyptian artifacts. I love Theodosia's resourcefulness and practicality, these coupled with the fact that she is only a young girl make for a number of very humorous moments in the book. I think after Theodosia my favorite character is Will, he is resourceful in a different way and another great character. There are many excellent characters, but by far the strength of the book is the mystery and the interesting Egyptian lore included. The plot clips along at a good rate and never becomes boring.

The only thing I didn't like was that LaFevers makes the parents so clueless, in fact most of the adults in the book are rather stupid and helpless. I kind of wish that at least some of the adults in the book had a clue, but it is a good story nonetheless.

I found this book to be a quick and fun read and suitable for children of all ages. There are some scary parts, but nothing too horrible. Overall a very enjoyable read, very in keeping with the second book (Which I read before this one) I am really looking forward to the third book in this series.

Waiting on Wednesday - 11/11

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

This week my WoW book is "The Good, the Dead, and the Uncanny" by Simon Green. This is the tenth book in the Nightside series. I love this series. There are supposed to be 13 books total in the series. I am really looking forward to this next one!

"The Good, the Dead, and the Uncanny" by Simon Green
Pages: 288 pages
Publisher: Ace Hardcover
Release Date: Jan 5th, 2010

Synopsis: "Things were going so well for P.I. John Taylor, that it was only a matter of time before everything hit the fan. Walker, the powerful, ever-present, never­to-be-trusted agent who runs the Nightside on behalf of The Authorities, is dying. And he wants John to be his successor-a job that comes with more baggage, and more enemies, than anyone can possibly imagine."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Teaser Tuesday - 11/10

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 "Keeping It Real" (Quantum Gravity, Book 1) by Justina Robson.

Here it is: "She mentally apologized to the metal elements who were temporarily blasted apart by her body's response to the command as it switched current phase from her reactor. But she thanked Sarasilien for having the wit to add such a defensive capability to her AI-self in the first place." Pg. 94

Monday, November 9, 2009

Boneshaker (Clockwork Century, Book 1) by Cherie Priest (5/5 stars)

I have been wanting to read something from Cherie Priest for some time. When I saw Boneshaker out on the shelves and read the premise of it I had to get it. It was a good buy. I really enjoyed the book, the plot, the world, the characters, all of it. This is the first of three planned books to take place in the Clockwork Universe. The books are supposed to be unrelated stories set in the same universe.

Lecviticus Blue won a contest to drill for gold in the Klondike with his invention the Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine. Only problem was that on the first trial something went extremely wrong. The Drill ripped apart Seattle and released the Blight; a poisonous gas that turned many of the residents of Seattle into walking zombies that love to feast on raw flesh. A wall was built to contain the Blight. Briar Wilkes is Blue's widow and lives outside the Wall; she is eking out a living raising her son and daily deals with the hate of her fellow humans for the actions of her husband. Her son Zeke is determined to prove that his father was not a bad man so he sneaks back into the Blight filled city to find evidence. While he is there things go wrong and now Briar must enter the city of her childhood and face all of the horrors there if she is ever going to rescue her son.

This was a great book. I mean it had zombies, so that's pretty cool right there. It also had airships, lots of shotguns, non-stop action, beautiful descriptions, and a wonderful cast of characters. It shows how both a mother's love and humanity's penchant for survival can go against all odds.

You have to love Briar as a character, she has her flaws, but she is one resourceful mother and will stop at nothing to get back her son. Zeke is an awesome character too. Priest captured the family dynamics really well. All of the side characters were fascinating and interesting too.

The action is non-stop with danger lurking around literally every corner. The descriptions of the various steampunk machinery are wonderful and well-done. This is steampunk adventure at its best. I think just about everyone will find this book a fascinating read. It could also be read to young adults, maybe not younger kids though; it gets pretty scary and there are quite a bit of rather violent fighting scenes.

The asthetics of the book also bear mentioning. This was the first book I have ever read that is on an deep off-white paper with the words printed in a deep rust color; it does a good job of setting the mood of the story. I was worried that the lower contrast would make it hard to read; but it didn't, just leant the book a very, well, steampunk feeling!

This is definitely a keeper and I look forward to reading the next two Clockwork Universe novels that are planned. I will also be checking out Priest's previous works like her Eden Moore series.

Mailbox Monday - 11/9

Mailbox Monday can be found at: The Printed Page

A lot of wonderful books this week! I got a couple books for new series I want to start reading. I got both "Unshapely Things" (Connor Grey, Book 1) by Mark Del Franco and "Wicked Game" (WVMP Radio, Book 1)by Jeri Smith-Ready through I also got the 2nd book in Kim Harrison's Darkest Powers series "The Awakening" though I have been waiting to start the first book until I got the second book; so now I can read full speed ahead!

I also bought two books. "Boneshaker" by Cherie Priest. I have heard so many wonderful things about this book and I love the premise. I can't get it at my library and no one is swapping it; so I went ahead and bought it. I hope it is worth it! I also bought "The Dust of 100 Dogs" by A.S. King. I have been wanting to read this book forever. The library doesn't carry it and no one is swapping, so again I broke down and bought it for $1 online.

The books are shown below. Happy reading to you all!

"Unshapely Things" (Connor Grey, Book 1) by Mark Del Franco

First Sentence: "The alley was slick with rain and a rainbow-hued slop I didn't want to think about."
From "In the alleys of the decrepit Boston neighborhood known as the Weird, fairy prostitutes are turning up dead. The crime scenes show signs of residual magic, but the Guild, which polices the fey, has more "important" crimes to investigate and dumps the case on human law enforcement.

Boston police call in Connor Grey, a druid and former hotshot Guild investigator-whose magical abilities were crippled after a run-in with a radical environmentalist elf. As Connor battles red tape and his own shortcomings, he realizes that the murders are not random, but part of an ancient magical ritual. And if Connor can't figure out the killer's M.O., the culmination of the spell might just bring about a worldwide cataclysm."

"The Awakening" (Darkest Powers, Book 2) by Kelley Armstrong

First Sentence: "When the door to my cell clicked open, the first thought that flitted through my doped-up brain was that Liz had changed her mind and come back."
From "If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl—someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I'm as far away from normal as it gets. A living science experiment—not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters, I'm a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control; I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

Now I'm running for my life with three of my supernatural friends—a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch—and we have to find someone who can help us before the Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying."

"Wicked Game" (WVMP Radio, Book 1) by Jeri Smith-Ready

First Sentence: "Family curses never die, they just mutate."
From "Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, '60s psychedelia, '80s goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers just how the DJs maintain their cred: they're vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.

Ciara's first instinct, as always, is to cut and run. But communications giant Skywave wants to buy WVMP and turn it into just another hit-playing clone. Without the station -- and the link it provides to their original Life Times -- the vampires would "fade," becoming little more than mindless ghosts of the past. Suddenly a routine corporate takeover is a matter of life and undeath.

To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara rebrands the station as "WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll." In the ultimate con, she hides the DJs' vampire nature in plain sight, disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around -- next to Ciara's complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the "gimmick" enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren't so eager to be brought into the light. Soon the stakes are higher -- and the perils graver -- than any con game Ciara's ever played...."

"Boneshaker" by Cherie Priest

First Sentence: "Unpaved, uneven trails pretended to be roads; they tied the nation's coasts together like laces holding a boot, binding it with crossed strings and crossed fingers."
From "In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.
But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.
Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.
His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive."

"The Dust of 100 Dogs" by A.S. King

First Sentence: "Imagine my surprise when, after three centuries of fighting with siblings over a spare furry teat and licking my water from a bowl, I was given a human nipple, all to myself, filled with warm mother's milk."
From "In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with "the dust of one hundred dogs," dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.

Now she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ballad: A Gathering of Fairy by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5 stars)

This book is the sequel to “Lament”. You wouldn’t have to read “Lament” to enjoy this book but “Lament” does provide a lot of good background between Dee and James. This was a good book, I enjoyed it. I am finding that Steifvater has a very distinct writing style; I am not totally in love with it but I do love her characters.

Dee and James have started school at Thornking-Ash. Each of them is having their own problems. James keeps hearing the song of the horned king and wants to chase it down. Then he happens upon Nuala, she is a low type of fairy who feeds off of a person’s creativity to live. Nuala and James dance back and forth, as Nuala tries to draw him into a deal. While they are absorbed in this game something big is happening in Fairy. The new Fairy Queen wants to shrug free of the power of the Cloverhand (Dee) and has a plan to do it; but how much will her plan cost in lives?

I liked James voice better than Dee’s from the “Lament”. James is just more interesting and has a more fascinating perspective on the world. The chapters alternate between James’ and Nuala’s point of view. Nuala has quite a bit of bite and is another interesting character to read about.

There is a lot of tension between James and Nuala, as Nuala struggles to not eat James life force. This makes the story interesting and propels the beginning of the story along despite the lethargic pace of the plot.

I am finding that Steifvater has a very distinct writing style. Her books are always very meandering and laid back in the beginning; she spends a lot of time talking about how the characters feel and following them through their everyday lives. Then tons of stuff happens in the last few chapters. This book is no exception to that; it follows exactly the same pattern as both “Lament” and “Shiver”. It is not my favorite writing style but it seems to work for this story. Stiefvater's real strength is in the likable and believable characters she creates, and how she makes them struggle to love against all odds.

The end of this book resolves some issues but not others. I haven’t heard that there are any more books planned in this world, but the ending leaves me to believe that they will be at least a few more.

All in all it was an enjoyable book. I still wish though that the action had been spread out more and not all shoved in at the end. That being said I will continue to read Steifvater because I really do like the characters she creates.