Friday, September 09, 2011

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One
Synopsis:

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?


Pages: 384 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition
Released: August 16, 2011

What do you get if you took World of Warcraft, the Sims, and The Surrogates and mixed them in a blender for 80 seconds? If you said that you’d get a world where you could control your own ‘Sim’ in a huge massively multiplayer online world, where you can go on quests, hang out with friends, and even go to school. And in this world, it allows players to be anything that they wanted to be. A hotter body, sure. An awesome warrior with cool weapons and has huge muscles, of course. A player, in both senses, whatever you want you can get. The world offers a better you, a better life, a better world, so much so that some people spend their entire time in the online world that they forget about the real world.

If this was your answer, then you’d be correct. You’d also be correct if you said that you’d get the delightful debut novel, Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.
When James Halliday, the creator of OASIS, passes away it kicks off contest like no other. Since he was never married and has no offspring or friends, his entire fortune is up for grabs. And what better way to do this then with a game? In his will, he left a puzzle. Solve it and you get to do a quest, once you do that, you get another puzzle. Solve that and you do a question...I think you get the idea.

The only way to get this is if you immerse yourself in all things Halliday. He loved the 80s, so even though the year is 2040, the 80s made a huge comeback. The more you know the better chance you have at winning the inheritance and gaining total control over OASIS.

The main character, Wade, goes on this quest, but finds that the further he gets into this puzzle, the deadly it becomes for him, not only in OASIS, but in the real world to.

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Overall:

Ready Player One has a lot of great things going for it. As a gamer, I loved reading about the world that Cline created and seeing how it affected everyday life. Even though I didn’t grow up in the 80s, I did get a lot of the pop culture references and what not. Just a note, there is a lot of 80s references. A lot.

The story, as a whole, is fairly interesting. On one hand, it’s exciting and seeing how Wade figures out the puzzles was fun to read. But on the other hand, the book did tend to tell you things instead of showing them to you. I think with this book it was a bit hard to not have an info dump here and there, because of the nature of the story. I just wish that the info dumps weren’t so much. I wanted to read more about what Wade was doing and even learn more about his dystopian world.

The characters are a bit hit and miss too. I found Wade annoying and stupid, but he was an interesting character. But I think the main problem is that the good guys are clearly labelled; and therefore, they don’t have as much depth to them as I would have liked. The same goes with the bad guys. The Sixers, minus the head honcho, had no personality. The main villain was a touch over the top. You do get some development, but not as much as I'd like.

I think my biggest con of this book is the first few pages. In the prologue, Wade tells us that he was the winner of the competition and is writing this book in order to set the record straight. I felt like this kind of took away from the climax of the story. Instead of wondering whether Wade makes it or not, I already knew that he got it. The sense of surprise was taken out.

This may seem like I hated the novel, but I didn't. I actually liked the story and felt like Cline did a great job for his debut novel. There are problems, but I did like the premise and the gamer in me had fun reading this. I'll be looking forward to Cline's next novel. Definitely check this one out.

3.5 stars

ps. There is a movie coming out about it soon.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Review: The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto

The Lake
Synopsis:

A major literary sensation is back with a quietly stunning tour de force about the redemptive power of love.

While The Lake shows off many of the features that have made Banana Yoshimoto famous—a cast of vivid and quirky characters, simple yet nuanced prose, a tight plot with an upbeat pace—it’s also one of the most darkly mysterious books she’s ever written.

It tells the tale of a young woman who moves to Tokyo after the death of her mother, hoping to get over her grief and start a career as a graphic artist. She finds herself spending too much time staring out her window, though ... until she realizes she’s gotten used to seeing a young man across the street staring out his window, too.


Pages: 192 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Melville House
Released: May 3, 2011

Before I start, I just want to say that if you see this book at amazon, goodreads, book depository, the library, the book...basically anywhere that you can find this book. Do not, under any circumstances, read the synopsis past the point that I've posted here. Why? Because the synopsis kind of spoils the book. So if you plan on reading this, don't read the synopsis.

I've only read one book by Banana Yoshimoto, Asleep, which I enjoyed. I love her writing style and how it gives off a very dreamy sort of style. I'm still not sure if it's correctly translated, but I think for the most part, Michael Emmerich did a great job.

The story is about Chihiro and Nakajima and their complicated relationship. Chihiro is still suffering from the death of her mother and it's clear that Nakajima has a painful past that no one could ever imagine. (unless you read the synopsis, so don't!) The more Nakajima learns to trust Chihiro, the more she wants to heal him. It's a complicated relationship, but one that both of them want and need.

~-.-~

Overall:

The Lake is a relatively short book. It's only 192 pages. But after reading Asleep and now The Lake, I've noticed that even though her books are short they feel longer. I remember reading this and feeling like a long time has passed, but I was only on page 70. Now, whether this is a bad thing or a good one is entirely up to the reader.

As far as the story goes, it's okay. There is a sense of loneliness, grief, and pain throughout the pages. This is a pretty dark book, but one that I thought was quite good. Like I mentioned before, I became a fan of Yoshimoto's writing style after reading Asleep and I was glad that the same translator was used for both books. When I read her books I feel a sense of disconnect from her characters, but they still keep me engaged. It's weird, but it's one of the things that I like about her writing.

The Lake does start off slow and I did feel like it dragged on at some points, but I still enjoyed my time reading this.


ps. Did I mention that you shouldn't read the synopsis?

4 stars

This was provided by netgalley

Review: Practical Jean by Trevor Cole

Practical Jean: A Novel (P.S.)
Synopsis:

Jean Vale Horemarsh is content, for the most part, with the small-town life she’s built: a semi-successful career as a ceramics artist, a close collection of women friends (aside from that terrible falling-out with Cheryl years ago), a comfortable marriage with a kind if unextraordinary man. But it is only in watching her mother go through the final devastating stages of cancer that Jean realizes her true calling. No one should have to suffer the indignities of aging and illness like her mother did—and she, Jean Horemarsh, will take it upon herself to give each of her friends one final, perfect moment . . . and then, one by one, kill them.

Of course, female friendships are quite complicated things, and Jean is soon to discover that her plan isn’t as simple as she initially believed it to be.

Pages: 320 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Released: October 18, 2011

When I first heard about this book, I was excited. The blurb sounds like a fun dark comedy, the cover fits the blurb to a tee, and overall I knew that I would have a great time reading this. Then I read it and it only left me with mixed feelings.

Jean Vale Horemarsh had to take care of her dying mother, during the ordeal she realized that the entire process was horrible and didn’t want to see anyone else go through that. When her mother finally kicks the bucket, Jean is left with this feeling and wondering what to do. Her husband is worried that she isn’t showing any grieving signs and her friends keep telling her that they’ll be there for her, but Jean just can’t shake this annoying feeling.

Then it hits her. Dying, the way her mother died, was horrible. Dying, when you’re happy, is best. So she comes up with the plan to kill all of her closest friends, so they don’t have to suffer like her mother did. She meets with them, one by one, and tries her best to give them an evening of happiness before she murders them. It’s the least she could do for someone she cares so deeply about.

~-.-~

Overall

This was kind of hit and miss with me. The concept, the cover, and the synopsis made me feel like this would be a fantastic dark comedy to read, and for the most part it is. The very idea that Jean would feel compelled to kill her friends and make sure they are happy before death is a morbid topic. But every so often Cole will add some comedic moments that do make you laugh.

Sadly, I felt like the book dragged on at some points and I did feel bored. Jean was a character that I didn’t really care for. I don’t need to like the main character in order to like a book, but there has to be something interesting about them. Jean seems like a very nice woman, who decides to do something horrible in order to fit her own selfish needs. This sounds interesting, but I don’t know if it carried well in the book. At least for me, it didn’t.

The Cheryl side story was interesting at the beginning, but Cheryl has to be one of the most pathetic characters I've ever read. Reading her parts, even though it was needed in the story, did pull me out of Jean and her plot to kill her friends. Actually, I don't even think the Cheryl plot was needed, now that I think of it.
This is still a fun little book to read and if you like black comedy then you’ll definitely want to check this out.

3.5 stars

This book was provided by net galley.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten! by Trisha Speed Shaskan

Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!; The Story of Little Red Riding Hood as Told by the Wolf (Nonfiction Picture Books: The Other Side of the Story)
Synopsis:

OF COURSE you think I did a horrible thing by eating Little Red Riding Hood and her granny. You don't know the other side of the story. Well, let me tell you...

Pages: 24 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Capstone
Released: August 1, 2011

One of my all time favourite kids’ books is The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. I remember reading this as a kid and falling in love. It was also the book that got me into fairy tale retellings, so it has a very special place in my heart. I can praise this book till high noon, because it was funny, it was insightful, and the illustrations were great. But I can’t.

So why did I bring it up? Well, when I heard about Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten! I was excited. It reminded me of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs with the Big Bad Wolf telling his side of the story about why he ate poor Granny and Little Red Riding Hood. Also, the artwork is cute and reminded me of Capstone’s other novel Secrets, Monsters, and Magic Mirrors.

The story is a simple one. The Big Bad Wolf is a vegetarian and a big lover of apples, whether it’s Golden Delicious, Fuji, Pink Lady, it doesn’t matter because he loves them all! But he’s run out of apples and he’s run out of food, now he’s starving and isn’t sure what to do.

Then one day he smells something wonderful and sees a big apple. The apple in question isn’t a Ginger Gold, Cameo, McIntosh, or even a Zuccalmaglio's Reinette. No, this huge incredibly rare apple is Little Red Riding Hood, who has clearly been snacking on a lot (and I mean a lot) of cakes. When the wolf runs off to Granny’s House expecting to see old women, he’s welcomed by the biggest Granny Smith he’s ever seen.

Gee, the Big Bad Wolf has it rough.


~-.-~

Overall

The story isn’t anything new, but Trisha does help the reader try to see things from a different perspective. And the artwork helps push this point by displaying the wolf’s desperation. The story is also cute and I’m sure any kid would love this.

But due to my love of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and the epicness of that story, I think I felt a tad disappointed in how the story ended up. That isn’t to say this is a bad book, it isn’t. I was just wanting more. The artwork is great though.

3.5 stars

This book was provided by net galley.

Review: Liar's Kiss by Eric Skillman and Jhomar Soriano

Liar's Kiss
Synopsis:

Nick Archer isn't much of a detective, but he's managed to get himself one pretty sweet surveillance gig: once a week he sends a jealous millionaire the photos that prove his wife is faithful, leaving Nick plenty of free nights to spend making a liar of both himself and the client's wife. But when the client turns up dead, his cheating wife is the prime suspect and it's up to Nick to clear her - except Nick has an agenda of his own, and connections to this case that go deeper than anyone realizes.

Pages: 120 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Release: May 10, 2011

~-.-~

It starts off as a normal night for Nick Archer. He takes pictures of a millionaire's wife to show that she's faithful. Once that's done, he finally gets down to business by hooking up with his client's wife. It seems to be a win-win situation for Nick and his client's wife. He gets money for proving her innocent and she gets to have a little fun without her husband knowing.

After their midnight tryst is over, she goes home only to find her husband's cold dead body waiting for her. Needless to say, she becomes the prime suspect in the murder. She couldn't have done it though, she has a solid alibi. She was with Nick. Except if she says that she won't get the inheritance money and there are also those pictures that Nick took of her being a 'faithful' and 'loyal' wife.

Can Nick save her before the book is over? Dun Dun Dunnnnnnnnnn


Overall

Jhomar Soriano's artwork was my favourite thing about Liar’s Kiss. It's detailed in all the right places and really brings out the whole crime noir feel of this graphic novel. Eric Skillman's writing is crisp as well. Instead of including long pieces of dialogues, he made everything, for the most part, short and sweet with a lot of back and forth between the characters. It reminded me of an 80's crime drama, so I enjoyed that.

One of the things that I didn't like was how some of the characters were clich├ęd, but I think that's to be expected when you write in this genre. Some of the dialogues did seem a little over the top; and therefore, making the situation not as serious as it should be. The ending did wrap up a bit too quickly for my liking. As a lover of twists, I liked the ending. I just wish there were a few more pages to fully flesh it out and give it that oomph.

Other than that this was a fun quick read. The writing is crisp, the artwork is stunning, and the pacing made this book helped keep you engaged. There are a few problems, but if you're looking for a short graphic novel filled with betrayals, secrets, lies, and murder then you'll want to check this out.

3 stars

This book was provided by net galley

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Interview: Jennifer Brown

I'd like to welcome Jennifer Brown. Jennifer is the author of two very popular teen fiction novels, Hate List and Bitter End (both of which I've reviewed on my blog). After reading both of these books, I thought it would be a great idea to interview Jennifer and see what she has planned for next.



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Congratulations on your success! What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Thank you! My advice to aspiring authors is it's all about self-belief. Rejections hurt and can make you doubt yourself and feel like you'll never make it. And you will be rejected, no matter how awesome you are (because sometimes rejections truly aren't about how good or bad the work is). But you have to believe in yourself. You have to believe that you will eventually get published. And you have to keep trying. Don't ever give up. You'll get there.


Both of your books dealt with serious social issues that teens go through. In Hate List it was bullying and a school shooting and in Bitter End it was about abuse. What attracted you to these kinds topics and what makes it interesting to write about?

What makes those subjects interesting to me is that they're real. Teens are dealing with those issues (as well as many other tough social issues) every day, and I think it's important to get people thinking about, and talking about, them. In my mind, thinking and talking about tough social issues are the first steps to making changes, and that's what I'd really like to see--a day when school shootings no longer exist and relationship abuse no longer happens, and many other positive social changes. Teens are powerful--more powerful than they sometimes realize, I think--and are totally capable of bringing about positive changes in this world. I like writing books that reminds them of how powerful they really can be.


Hate List
Do you think you'll continue this trend with your writing?

I do imagine I'll continue to write about social issues, but I'm also eager to prove that I'm not a one-trick pony, and have some other ideas in the works as well. Ultimately, I'd like to have a nice balance of work in many different genres exploring many different thoughts.



Even though you write teen fiction, do you see yourself writing for other audiences in the future?

I do have an interest in writing for other audiences. Last year I wrote a middle grade fantasy novel that I'd like to see published someday and right now I'm working on an adult literary novel. I'm a big believer in writing the story that wants to be written, and have dabbled in mystery and women's fiction in the past (and am a former humor writer!), so I would never squash a project just because it wasn't YA, or any other genre.


What do you have planned for next?

Right now I'm finishing up copyedits on my third YA novel, which is called Perfect Escape. It's about a sister who runs away with her older brother to try to cure him of his OCD (and also to run away from her own problems, but she doesn't like to admit that). After that, I do have some stories up my sleeve, but those are still in the thinking stage.


Bitter EndIf Valerie and Alex met, what do you think would happen?

I'm hoping that they'd be understanding of each other's situation, given all they'd gone through. I'd even like to think they'd find a commonality and would be friends. But, let's face it, Valerie's going to be a tough nut to crack her whole life. It will take a lot to build a friendship with her, and I'm not sure Alex will have it in her to try hard enough, especially since she already has Bethany and Zack in her life.

Jennifer

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For more information about Jennifer and her books, please visit her website: Jennifer Brown

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: Misfit by Jon Skovron

Misfit
Synopsis:

Jael Thompson has never really fit in. She's changed schools too many times to count. The only family she's ever known is her father, a bitter ex-priest who never lets her date and insists she attend the strictest Catholic school in Seattle. And her mother--well, she was a five thousand year old demon. That doesn't exactly help.

But on her sixteenth birthday, her father gives her a present that brings about some unexpected changes. Some of the changes, like strange and wonderful powers and the cute skater boy with a knack for science, are awesome. But others, like the homicidal demon seeking revenge on her family? Not so much.

Steeped in mythology, this is an epic tale of a heroine who balances old world with new, science with magic, and the terrifying depths of the underworld with the ordinary halls of high school.

Pages: 384 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release: August 1st, 2011

Jael is half mortal and half demon. It's not something she's really worried about until her sixteenth birthday when her father reluctantly hands her a necklace. He doesn't want her to have it, but his dead wife made him promise her that he'd give it to Jael when she turns 16. The necklace opens up Jael's demon powers, but also makes her a target for a big demon who has been hunting her for many years. He hates half breeds and wants to kill her, just like he killed her mom.

This is a hard review for me to write. Every time I start to write something, I end up deleting it because it doesn't sound right. Nothing seems to sound right. I kind of what to delete what I wrote above too, but it's too late for that. The reason why I'm having a hard time with this novel is because I really disliked this book. Not just a little bit, but a lot. It might be my least favourite book of the year.

This book had a lot of things going for it. The premise and the mythology that was used made me want to like this, but I just couldn't. I think the biggest reason why I didn't get into this book was the writing style. It's not easy to write a present tense novel and make it appealing. It's hard for a lot of readers to get into. I don't mind it, but that's only if the novel is fast paced and a lot of things are happening. When it's like this, I think it works. When the novel is slow moving, then you shouldn't be using present tense.

But using present tense and third person, when the novel is slow moving (at least until the end) that just spells trouble. Because it's written this way, Jael never connected to me. She was just there. And she sounds incredibly annoying, selfish, and stupid. I understand that she's lived a very strict lifestyle, so learning more about being a demon is her way of rebelling to her dad. But why didn't she take the time to actually talk to him about it?

Jael's relationships with other people in the novel never rang true to me either. The other characters, other than her dad, are not fleshed out well and sound more like stereotypes; you have the cool and accepting uncle, the understanding teacher, the bad guy, who is a stupid bad guy, the skater boy, who is good at math and science and the best friend who is a hard core conservative, but fools around with a lot of guys.

There are a few chapters, told in third person past tense that tell us about Jael's parents life before and when they had her. This was slightly interesting, but I couldn't get into this due to my ill feelings caused by the rest of the book.

I found that the more I read, the more nitpicky I got. Brit, the best friend, using J all the time when she is talking to Jael annoyed me. Rob, the boyfriend, using Betty or Bets all the time when talking to Jael annoyed me. Dagon, the uncle, using kid all the time when talking to Jael annoyed me. Jael, the main character, using Uncle D when talking to her uncle annoyed me. Seeing 'says' a lot annoyed me.

~-.-~

Overall

The cover is beautiful, the content inside not so much. I had to force myself to finish this book, when I really didn't want to finish this book. This had a lot of potential and I can see this becoming a series, but sadly it wasn't executed properly and because of that I didn't enjoy this at all.


1 star

This book was provided by net galley

Review: Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson

Ultraviolet
Synopsis:

"Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her."

Sixteen-year-old Alison wakes up in a mental institution. As she pieces her memory back together, she realizes she's confessed to murdering Tori Beaugrand, the most perfect girl at school. But the case is a mystery. Tori's body has not been found, and Alison can't explain what happened. One minute she was fighting with Tori. The next moment Tori disintegrated--into nothing.

But that's impossible. No one is capable of making someone vanish. Right? Alison must be losing her mind--like her mother always feared she would.

For years Alison has tried to keep her weird sensory abilities a secret. No one ever understood--until a mysterious visiting scientist takes an interest in Alison's case. Suddenly, Alison discovers that the world is wrong about her--and that she's capable of far more than anyone else would believe.

Pages: 306 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books; 1 edition
Release: September 1st 2011

Alison wakes up in white room with no memory of how she got there and is told that she'll be transferred to Pine Hills, a mental institution for teens. Sure she can taste sound and smell words, but she's kept that to herself. Other than that she's completely sane. The police, the staff at Pine Hills, and her mother and friend don't think so. It's probably because on the night that Tori disappeared, Alison came home covered in blood screaming that she killed Tori. When police tried to apprehend her, she attacked them and attacked herself as well.

The night Tori died is still a mystery to Alison. One minute they were fighting, the next minute Tori disintegrated and hasn't been found since. Even though the situation is completely unbelievable, Alison believes that she's the cause of Tori's disappearance. In fact, she believes she killed her with her mind.

As the novel goes on, we learn more about Alison's rare, but completely human ability (you can even find it on wikipedia). But sadly, that takes up the majority of the novel. I would have liked to hear more about Tori and the mystery surrounding her. We do find out, obviously, but it's rushed. More Tori would have been appreciated.

~-.-~

Overall

If you are expecting a supernatural fiction novel, which is what the synopsis kind of tells you, then you might feel disappointed. This isn't supernatural fiction, the beginning is regular teen fiction, but near the end it turns sci-fi. This didn't really bother me and I hope this doesn't deter others from reading this.

I felt like the time spent in Pine Hills did drag on quite a bit, considering that you're expecting to hear more about the mystery. It was interesting though. One of the things that I didn't like was Alison's love interest. As a standalone character, he was alright, but when he’s together with Alison and then they confess their love to each other that was a little off for me. I understood why Alison felt the way she felt, sure it didn’t scream love it was more of confused because you were nice to me when no one else was. But she’s a teen, so it’s normal for her to confuse this feeling with love. Him on the other hand, it never rang true with me.

Ultraviolet did take me a few days to finish, but every time I picked up my iPod to read this I did get hooked. There are a lot of good points in this novel and I could see this turning into a series, but also some things that I didn't quite like. Overall, this was a fun and very different read so I enjoyed it.

3.5 stars

This book was provided by net galley

Monday, July 11, 2011

Review: Secrets, Monsters, and Magic Mirrors by Donald B. Lemke


Synopsis:

Five of the world's greatest fairy tales are retold in the popular and attractive graphic novel format. Beautiful, bold illustrations give these timeless tales a modern edge. The stories include Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Princess and the Pea, Snow White, and Thumbelina.

Pages: 176 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Capstone
Released: August 1, 2011

Because this is a collection of stories, I'll be providing a brief review for each story.

Rapunzel
I've heard of this version of Rapunzel before, so this wasn't something new to me. I thought the artwork was fitting for this story. When we see the witch and her scenes, the art is very gray and dark. When we see Rapunzel and her prince, there is a lot more life and colour on the pages. Even when the witch and Rapunzel were together, the witch was gray and Rapunzel was full of life.

Thumbelina
Even though this story is quite famous, I've never read it before. So this was my first time seeing Thumbelina. The art in this story is very colourful, which again fits the story. I quite enjoyed watching Thumbelina go from her home, to the frogs, to the mouse, and everywhere in between.

Snow White
In terms of artwork, I would say that Snow White has a very mature style. Once again, it works for the story, but it doesn't match the theme of this collection. All the other stories have some sort of cuteness to them. Snow White doesn't. It kind of reminded me of the Anita Blake graphic novel. The evil stepmother looked evil, but also slightly manish. I did like how the seven dwarfs looked though, they were very cute.

Beauty and the Beast
In terms of artwork, this was my second favourite story out of the 5. It reminded me of felt artwork and the backgrounds were beautifully done. Everything was simple, but the little details made it really stand out. The story was good too!

Princess and the Pea
This was my favourite story in the collection. The art was colourful and vibrant and the story was incredibly cute. I've read a Princess and the Pea many times as a kid, but it was never a story that I actively sought out. The idea of someone being so fragile that a pea would bother then didn't make sense to me. I wondered why she didn't just get off the bed and sleep on the floor? So I wasn't expecting much in terms of story from this, but I loved watching the prince search for a princess to wed. The characters he meets on his travels were unique, funny, and very weird.

~-.-~

Overall


I quite liked this collection. I love fairy tales, so I knew that I would be a fan of this right from the get go. One of the things I liked, other than the artwork, was how each story came with a brief history about it. Where the stories came from, how the stories changed throughout the years, when did the Brothers Grimm find it. Reading this was one of my favourite parts in this collection. Also, before each story would start, we'd be told the cast of characters.

The artwork was beautifully done as well, each had its own unique style but still shared some similarities to the other stories. For the most part, it's very kid friendly.

If you are looking for something original or a retelling of these classics, then this might not be the book that you're looking for. But if you're a fan of fairy tales, or want to introduce fairy tales to your kids, and want to see those stories told in graphic novel format, then this might be just for you.


3.5 stars

This book was provided by net galley.

Review: Rampant by Diana Peterfreund

Rampant
Synopsis:
Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns . . .

Astrid Llewelyn has always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one attacks her boyfriend—ruining any chance of him taking her to prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient Cloisters the hunters have used for centuries. However, all is not what it seems at the Cloisters. Outside, unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from bone-covered walls that vibrate with terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to her growing attraction to a handsome art student . . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything.

Pages: 416 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: August 25, 2009


~-.-~

All her life, Astrid's mother has been telling her that unicorns are not the cute cuddly creatures we've come to know and love, they are actually dangerous man eating creatures. With fangs. The only protection that humans have against these ferocious creatures is getting unicorn hunters to deal with them. Unicorn Hunters are descendants of Alexander the Great and must remain virgins in order to fight unicorns. The moment you have sex, you lose your power.

Naturally, Astrid thinks her mother is crazy, I mean really, man eating unicorns? But when her boyfriend gets attacked by a unicorn and is saved by her mother, Astrid starts to see the world in a completely different light.

Astrid is sent to Rome to train with other girls to become unicorn hunters. All of the girls realize the dangers of fighting unicorns, but know that they are the only ones who can stop it. But because their magical unicorn powers stems from their virginity, they are also told to stay away from boys.

That doesn't stop Astrid and her cousin Phil to meet up with some boys. But as Astrid starts getting closer to Giovanni, she starts to question if this is really the life she wants to live.

Overall:

Rampant has been on my radar for awhile now and I was ecstatic that I got the chance to finally read it. I've only heard good things about this so I knew that this would be great, and for the most part it is. Astrid is quite a strong female, in fact all of the girls in the unicorn hunting business are. It was nice reading about them and seeing their struggles and hardships.

I didn't like that the subject of Brandt wasn't really discussed. After they find out he runs away, I wondered why no one bothered to find him. He does show up in the sequel to Rampant, so that does make up for that.

Another thing that I didn't quite like was the relationship between Giovanni and Astrid. I could tell they liked each other, but they only met a couple of times, so I didn't find their relationship all that believable.

Other than those two things, I liked Rampant. It's a fun story with a very original premise great characters and of course, Killer unicorns.

4 stars

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Bitter End
Synopsis:

When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole -- a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her -- she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate . . . someone who truly loves and understands her.

At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats.

As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose "love" she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose -- between her "true love" and herself.

Pages: 368 pages(Hardcover)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition
Released: May 10, 2011

~-.-~

Cole is the new boy in town and is Alex is assigned to tutor him. Alex is instantly taken by him and it seems Cole likes her two. As the days go by, both of them steal looks at each other while they work. When they start dating, everything is perfect. Cole is a true gentleman and Alex loves being with him. Ah young love, how sweet it is.

The only weird thing is that he hates how close Alex and Zack, one of her best friends, is. And he hates that Zack touches her all the time, so he wants that relationship to stop. Alex understands, I mean, what guy would want another guy touching his girlfriend? She's in a relationship now, so things should be different.

But Alex wants her friends and Cole to get along, so when she gathers the crew up to go to a party she only assumes the best will happen. Too bad things start to go downhill from there.

Alex believes that if a guy ever touched her she'd leave right away, but when the emotional and physical abuse starts to happen Alex finds herself drawing nearer to Cole despite herself.

Overall:

The Bitter End is a tale of abuse, you pretty much get that idea from reading the synopsis, so when Alex first meets Cole you already know what's going to happen. It's a big hard to watch her get sucked in, when it's clear that he's a bad guy. I don't want to say she's stupid for what happened and letting herself get taken away, because she's not. Unless you're in that situation you never know what you'll do. Alex is a great character, but she's a great character that got sucked into a really bad and unhealthy relationship.

I did like reading about Cole's family though. His family life is pretty crummy and even though it's never really said, I did suspect that Cole's mother is being abused by his father.

One of the things that confused me, while reading the novel, was how long the abuse was going. At first, I thought this was going to be simply emotional abuse since it seemed to be going that way, but then he starts hitting her.

The book isn't as depressing as Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, but it does touch on some important points that teens should read about.

4 stars

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: wk3


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!

Bitter End
I felt even more blood rush to my face, and all of a sudden the room got very serious. I planted both palms on Zack's back and pushed.

~ page 85 of Bitter End by Jennifer Brown


I just started and I know what's to come, but was afraid of jumping in the middle for fear of spoiling myself. I enjoyed Hate List, so I have high hopes for Bitter End. Be sure to be on the look out since I'll be interviewing Jennifer Brown soon.

What's your teaser this week?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Orochi: Blood by Kazuo Umezu

Orochi: Blood
Synopsis:

Two sisters. One perfect. The other... not. What begins as a dark tale of sibling rivalry turns into something all together different when a young girl named Orochi - who possesses a strange supernatural power - enters the picture. What is the secret of the Monzen family? It is only years later, when Orochi, in an unusual form, revisits the sisters in their adulthood that the secret is revealed, and along with it, the true nature of these blood sisters. Capturing both the wonder and terror of childhood with haunting and beautiful art, Orochi: Blood is a Gothic masterpiece from one of the all-time great manga storytellers, Kazuo Umezu.

Pages: 224 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC; 1st edition
Released: September 5, 2002

Before this review starts, I have to mention that this is the only book that has been translated in the Orochi series. Sadly, this is also the last book in the series. Also, this manga is read from Left to Right, instead of the traditional manga format of Right to Left. This isn't that big of a deal, but I was thrown off a bit when I went to the back of the book and noticed that I was at the end instead of the beginning.

Anywho, here is the review. Orochi is an immortal being that is fascinated by the lives of Lisa and Kazusa Monzen. Kazusa, the older of the two sisters, is the clear favourite in the family and after years of Lisa being compared to her beautiful, intelligent, all round amazing sister, she becomes a recluse. Despite the difference in upbringing, the two are close and Lisa would do anything for her sister.

Even though Orochi is the main character in this series, it's clear that the story is about Lisa and her struggles as being the black sheep of the family. The story follows Lisa being cast aside as a child, to her awkward years as a teen, to her marriage life, to when she's an old woman. It isn't pretty and you quickly sympathize with her and want her to succeed in life, but of course things don't always work out in the end.

The artwork is great and I did enjoy the story, but I do have some issues that prevented me giving this a glowing review. Lisa is fleshed out and the reader gets a good sense of who she is and why she does what she does. Not much is known about Kazusa, but it works because the story is about Lisa.

However, the main character of this series and this volume is Orochi and we don't know very much about her. I'm guessing that this is due to the fact that this is the last volume in the series.

~-.-~

Overall:

This isn't my first time reading Orochi, but I was disappointed in this collection. One of the things that I like about this series is that Orochi intends to do good and help people, but she's too naive in her thinking. She doesn't understand that people are complex and what she expects to happen sometimes back fires and leads to horrible consequences.

Another thing I like about her is her curious nature. She's interested in people's lives and becomes emotional invested in them, even though she may not watch everything that has happened she does wonder about them and eventually goes to check up on the humans she's been watching.

But because this is the last volume and the only one out in the Orochi series spanning 5 or 6 volumes, then you don’t really get a good sense of her character or her motivations. She’s just there, which really doesn’t do justice to her character.

I don’t know if putting out the final volume out first was the smartest thing to do, but this was a good story in its own right. I just wish the other volumes were released to so we can get a full sense of Orochi’s world.

3.5 stars

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

The Lying Game
Synopsis:

I had a life anyone would kill for.

Then someone did.


The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

Pages: 320 pages (Hardcover)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: December 7, 2010

I remember reading the Pretty Little Liars series and gobbling up each book, well not each book since I haven't finished the series yet, but from the books I had I gobbled them up. Each book had me hooked and I was hoping that the Lying Game would do the same.

Sutton is dead. She has no memory of what has happened and why she's now following her long lost twin sister, Emma, around. When Emma finds out about her sister, she decides to leave her foster family and meet her sister. Emma's life has been hard as she's been tossed from one foster family to another and never really fitting in with any of them. So when she finds that Sutton has lived a charmed life, she does feel a pang of jealously. When she finds out that Sutton has been murdered and the murderer wants Emma to act as Sutton and play along, Emma decides to find out what really happened before the killer goes after her next.

The writing does take some time in getting use to; it's mostly rewritten in third person as Shepard tells us about Emma and her struggles in portraying Sutton. But Sutton's thoughts and commentary are written in first person. So there are times when one paragraph is written in third person and the next is written in first, before going back into third person once again. It takes some getting used to, but it does ultimately work in the end.

I liked how Shepard didn't make this a supernatural novel. Yes Sutton's spirit is following Emma around, but Emma never notices. She does get Sutton's flashbacks, but that doesn't happen very much. Emma is pretty much left to her own devices as she tries to fit in and find out what happened.

~-.-~

Overall:

There are similarities between The Lying Game and Pretty Little Liars, both deals with privileged teens who have someone watching their every move and making their lives miserable. Both are television shows (The Lying Game was recently picked up by ABC Family) and both are fun reads.

But I think that's where it ends. I do find that Pretty Little Liars had better characters. I think this is because it had more characters to focus on, so you knew the characters better. With The Lying Game you know about Emma and Sutton and a little bit about the others. I felt like some of Sutton's friends all meshed together, so I didn't know who was who.

I think that would be my only complaint about the novel though. Shepard's writing is still just as exciting and crisp and the mystery and suspense still keeps you at the edge of your seat. The mystery isn't revealed yet though; this is series after all, so I can't wait to read Never Have I Ever to find out more about Sutton's murder.


4 stars

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List
Synopsis:

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Pages: 432 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: October 5, 2010

Once upon a time, I did a project on bullying and the legal side behind it for my law class. Obviously, bullying is a horrible thing, but we never really hear about it until it's too late. Since that project, I've been fascinated by fictional books about bullying and seeing what the author does with that kind of story.

Jennifer Brown took a story about bullying, school shooting, and made it into something different. The story isn't about Nick, the one who was bullied and decided to shoot a bunch of people at school before turning the gun on himself. It's about Valerie, the shooters girlfriend who had no idea that this was going to happen and where everything went wrong.

Even though the shooting plays a huge role in the novel, I liked how it was also about Valerie trying to find herself too. She was the one who came up with the Hate List, the list that Nick and her spent time on writing about everything and everyone they hated. It was also the list that Nick used to target people. She struggles with the feeling of guilt over her part in the shooting and it doesn't help when your family and friends believe that it's partly her fault as well.


~-.-~

Overall:

The story moves back and forth between what happened on that day and how Valerie moves on afterwards. It was nice watching her grow as a person and getting more in-tuned with herself. When it comes to her friends, Valerie is apprehensive about getting too close. She wants to be left alone, which is perfectly understandable. And even though her new friends are pushing her too move on, I kind of wish we saw some of her old friends doing the same thing. It does make sense that they wouldn't be as close anymore, but the selfish side of me wishes that there was some more scenes between them.

I was also interested in Nick and Valerie's relationship. I do believe that there was a strong love there, but you could also feel like Nick was pulling her down to his level of sadness. I liked how Valerie made a passing comment about how her friend moulds herself to fit in with others, because I felt like Valerie did the same thing when it came to Nick.

I enjoyed my time reading this. It made me tired, because I decided that the best time to read this would be before bed. This was a bad idea, since I slept really late, but it was worth it because this was a great little gem. Definitely check this one out!


4.5 stars

Teaser Tuesdays: wk2


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!

The Lying Game
"Whatever Sutton was involved in, whatever the Lying Game was, it was scary and dangerous and way too intense. Just sitting here in the school hall made her feel like a target in a rifle range."

~ page 162 of The Lying Game by Sara Shepard


Sara Shepard hasn't disappointed me yet, so I'm really excited about reading this.

~-.-~




So here's the first paragraph for The Lying Game
"I woke up in a dingy claw-foot bathtub in an unfamiliar pink-tiled bathroom. A stack of Maxims sat next to the toilet, green toothpaste globbed in the sink, and white drips streaked the mirror. The window showed a dark sky and a full moon. What day of the week was it? Where was I? A frat house at the U of A? Someone's apartment? I could barely remember that my name was Sutton Mercer, or that I lived in the foothills of Tucson, Arizona. I had no idea where my purse was, and I didn't have a clue where I'd parked my car. Actually, what kind of car did I drive? Had someone slipped me something?

~-.-~

Synopsis:

I had a life anyone would kill for.

Then someone did.


The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Review: In Search of a Distant Voice by Taichi Yamada

In Search of a Distant Voice
Synopsis:

Kazama Tsuneo is an immigration officer in Tokyo, struggling to live a 'normal' life after an event that happened eight years previously, on the other side of the world, in Portland, Oregon. When he is seized one day by a strange emotional fit, his life threatens to spiral out of control. With his arranged marriage looming, his problems worsen following the emergence of a strange voice - a woman who is trying to contact him, but without ever quite revealing herself. Imbued with a beautiful, melancholy sense of longing, the story becomes a quest narrative in which Tsuneo desperately chases this woman, and the mystery behind what happened eight years earlier.

Pages: 183 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Released: 2007

When I went to the library and came across this book, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It sounds like an interesting supernatural story, but I wanted Strangers to be the first book I read by Taichi Yamada.

Oh well.

I ended up getting the book in the end, but I do have some mixed feelings about it. The story is about Kasama Tsuneo and how he deals with his life as a immigrations officer. He struggles with feeling sorry for those he has to arrest, but goes through the motions because ultimately that is what you have to do.

When he starts hearing a voice in his head, it opens up feelings of what happened during his time in the States. Something that he feels responsible for and hasn't truly gotten over it.

The voice and Tsuneo begin conversing with each other and an awkward relationship starts to build. By the end of the novel, you do feel like something could happen between them, but alas the mystery woman who keeps talking to Tsuneo is never revealed.

Somehow, I expected this, but I still wish we found out.

~-.-~

Overall:

This is a short book, only 188 pages so it won't take you long to read. It is very surreal and watching Tsuneo deal with this mysterious voice was entertaining to watch. He has a lot more patience that I do. I don't think I would have lasted that long with a voice that doesn't wish to be scene, or known, but wants to know all about you.

I also liked how Tsuneo and the reader wasn't sure if he was going crazy, or if the voice in his head was real. As we continue to read, we find out she's indeed real and does help him move on (in a sense) with his life and get over what happened in the States.

At the same time, Tsuneo helps the mystery woman not feel so lonely anymore. The more I think about this book, the more I feel like it was an interesting novel. I did feel annoyed by everyone at the end, but writing this review did help me make sense about what happened.

3.5 stars

Review: The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People
Synopsis:

Bored with retirement, Mr. Ali sets up a desk, puts up a sign, and waits for customers for his new matchmaking business. Some clients are a mystery. Some are a challenge. Mr. Ali's assistant, Aruna, finds it a learning experience. But without a dowry, Aruna has no expectation of a match for herself. Then again, as people go about planning their lives, sometimes fate is making other arrangements.

Pages: 304 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Released: June 1, 2010

When I was at the library, I felt like this book jumped out at me. With it's brightly coloured cover and interesting synopsis, I thought that this would be a fun book to read. And it was.

I have a few Indian friends, so I've heard my fair share of the good, the bad, and everything in between about marriages that happen in their culture. Since this book deals with not only Muslim weddings but Hindu weddings as well, I felt like this would provide an interesting insight into the lives of Indians.

The book starts with Mr. Ali opening up a marriage bureau that soon becomes quite successful. Not only does he look for Muslim candidates, but Christian and Hindu as well. After taking down some information on them, he advertises it on their behalf and tries play match maker. Sometimes it works out in the end and sometimes it doesn't. Ultimately, what ever happens happens and he constantly tells his clients this.

With the success of his business, Mr. Ali needs help so his wife finds Aruna who seems to be a godsent for him. Together, they see the good, the bad, and everything in between when it comes to marriages in India.

What I liked best about this novel is how Farahad Zama shows us how different their culture is. He walks us through the caste system and the different marriage traditions that happen.

~-.-~

Overall:

Even though this is a novel rich with information and it's fair share of drama, this is actually a quick and somewhat easy read. It's kind of like beach read, if that makes sense. Even though a bunch of stuff are thrown at you, everything works out in the end.

The beginning of the novel is the best part and I got through it quite quickly, but as the middle portion starts up I did find myself getting a little bored. The ending makes up for it, but this is a novel that shouldn't have taken me 3 days to read. I'm not quite sure what it was about the middle section, but it did feel like it was dragging on.

This is a good book though and if you want some insight on how Indians get married, then I think you might enjoy this.

3 stars

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Review: Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

Harvesting the Heart
Synopsis:

Paige has only a few vivid memories of her mother, who left when she was five. Now, having left her father behind in Chicago for dreams of art school and marriage to an ambitious young doctor, she finds herself with a child of her own. But her mother's absence, and shameful memories of her past, make her doubt both her maternal ability and her sense of self worth. Out of Paige's struggle to find wholeness, Jodi Picoult crafts an absorbing novel peopled by richly drawn characters and explores issues and emotions readers can relate to.

Pages: 464 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: Penguin
Released: April 1, 1995

I've read my fair share of Jodi Picoult books, so I usually know what to expect. There's an interesting plot with a twist that will affect the lives of everyone involved. There is a couple going through a hard time, but they will somehow make it work at the end. And of course, there will be many scenes that involve a court room. Depending on the novel, there will also be multiple narrators telling you what happened.

So imagine my shock when Harvesting the Heart didn't have the majority of the key features that I mentioned above. There's no court room, there's no twist, and the ending is vague so we don't know if the couple makes it or not. I was surprised. In fact, I was happy that I would finally get something different.

The only problem is that the characters are not that engaging or relatable. I felt like Jodi really wanted us to understand where Paige was coming from and I did, but it felt forced. I also didn't understand the purpose of letting us know that Paige can draw people's secrets, when this wasn't really used. It almost seemed like it was thrown in there to make her seem even more quirky, except it wasn't executed well enough for that to happen.

Nicholas was another narrator in the book and even though he's a major character in the novel, I didn't really get much out of him. Whereas Paige had some depth, Nicholas didn't. He was a miracle child to parents who were trying for many years. So he grew up spoiled. When he marries Paige, she spoils him. When she goes through her depression of their son is born, he isn't as spoiled so he gets angry at her. When she leaves him, he gets even angrier. Angry, because he's not getting spoiled and has to do more work around the house.

I think the main problem I had was how Paige and Nicholas almost assumed that the other person should know how they are feeling. Why they couldn't just talk it out, I dunno. We wouldn't have had a novel then, of course, but it was still annoying for me to read.


~-.-~


Overall:
This is a character driven novel and because of that, I couldn't get into it. The characters, at least to me, were not fleshed out enough for them to carry a novel. I don't have to like the character, or even relate to them in order for me to like a book, but I do need to find them engaging and fleshed out. Paige has some depth, but Nicholas is very one dimensional.

This is the second book that Jodi ever published, so that could be the reason. Her books do get better (albeit a bit predictable), but her writing has always been smooth and crisp.

2.5 stars

Friday, June 03, 2011

Friday Finds wk1

What great books did you hear about/discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS! Friday Finds is weekly meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

I thought it might be fun to have a theme each time I do this, instead of just posting all the books I find. So for this week, it's the spooky and suspense edition.

~-.-~


The Ones That Got Away
The Ones That Got Away by Stephen Graham Jones

These thirteen stories are our own lives, inside out. A boy's summer romance doesn't end in that good kind of heartbreak, but in blood. A girl on a fishing trip makes a friend in the woods who's exactly what she needs, except then that friend follows her back to the city. A father hears a voice through his baby monitor that shouldn't be possible, but now he can't stop listening. A woman finds out that the shipwreck wasn't the disaster, but who she's shipwrecked with. A big brother learns just what he will, and won't, trade for one night of sleep. From prison guards making unholy alliances to snake-oil men in the Old West doling out justice, these stories carve down into the body of the mind, into our most base fears and certainties, and there's no anesthetic. Turn the light on if you want, but that just makes for more shadows.

Now You See Me
Now You See Me by S.J. Bolton

Lacey Flint is a London policewoman with a secret past, a morbid fascination with serial killers and a curiously empty flat. On the job she's quiet and plainly dressed. At night she has an unusual social life.

When Lacey returns to her car one evening to find a woman fatally stabbed right by it, she is taken in for questioning, but then a hand-delivered letter suggests the killer has a special interest in Lacey herself.

Suddenly she is at the centre of a terrifying murder hunt, working with the smart but damaged DI Dana Tulloch and the hostile DI Mark Joesbury, another person who seems curiously fascinated with Lacey.

Is Joesbury's interest in Lacey personal or professional? Will Lacey cope as the case pushes her into the limelight? And does the team have the skill to outwit one of the nastiest serial killers Londoners have fallen prey to since the killer's infamous role model... Jack the Ripper.


There Is No Year: A Novel
There Is No Year: A Novel by Blake Butler

A family of three: father, mother, son.

A house that gives them shelter but shapes their nightmares.

An illness that nearly arrested the past, and looms over the future.

A second family—a copy family. Mirror bodies.

Events on the horizon: a hole, a box, a light, a girl.

Holes in houses. Holes in speaking. Holes in flesh.

Memories that deceive and figures that tempt and lure and withdraw.

Warm Bodies: A Novel
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

R is a young man with an existential crisis--he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, noidentity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.

After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and stragely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.


Stay
Stay by Deb Caletti

Clara's relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she's ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it's almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is--and what he's willing to do to make her stay.

Now Clara has left the city - and Christian - behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won't let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough....

~-.-~


So what did you find this week?