Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Skulduggery Pleasant

By Derek Landy

 Meet Skulduggery Pleasant:
Ace Detective
Snappy Dresser
Razor-tongued Wit
Crackerjack Sorcerer
Walking, Talking,
Fire-throwing Skeleton.

 As well as ally, protector, and mentor of Stephanie Edgely, a very unusual and darkly talented twelve-year-old.
These two alone must defeat an all-consuming ancient evil.

The end of the world?

 Over his dead body.
Fantastic! This book is my find of the month, or probably the last few months, if not the year. I absolutely and irrefutably love love love this book.  Irish author Derek Landy has the best sense of humor I have seen in writing; very akin to Rick Riordan with dry wit and wonderful back and forth bickering between Skulduggery and Stephanie. What's not to love with a skeleton detective that does magic and makes quips?  I can't recommend this book highly enough. The themes are dark magic and horror, but the way Landy handles it is appropriate and fun. It doesn't diminish the terribleness of things, but it doesn't drag your soul through the proverbial mud either when he writes about torture and death. Strange how much I enjoyed reading about Skulduggery, who is immediately likeable but dangerous underneath it all. Stephanie isn't as interesting for me, but I enjoy all the characters we're introduced to, especially Tanith Low and China Sorrows. Another Brilliant part for me is about how everyone is born with thier True name, and then have their Given name, and if they want, they can use thier Taken name as a protection against spells. I admit I spent a great deal of time coming up with a Taken name for myself just for fun that fit me. It was that much fun. And when you read this, because I am willing you with my mind powers, you should go check out the official web site (www.skulduggerypleasant.com/us) and listen to the interview with Skulduggery. It was freaking awesome. Oh how I love these books, and hope to have them on my shelves soon. And I just found out there are like 6 of them! I don't think we have all of them in the States yet, but I'll wait less than patiently for their arrival.  This is a great series for young boys in my opinion, as there aren't many that boys react well to. Like Rick Riordan? You'll love Derek Landy. READ SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT!!!!
4 1/4 out of 5- Because it was above average, and I loved it so much I want to own it. That doesn't happen often.
This is just for fun:

My Boyfriend Merlin

By Priya Ardis

17 year-old Boston high-schooler Arriane, aka Ryan DuLac just found out the guy she’s been crushing on, hot biker Matt, is a little older than he was letting on. In fact, he is really Merlin—the Merlin, King Arthur’s Merlin, the greatest wizard who ever lived. Frozen in a cave for over fifteen hundred years, he’s woken for a purpose. But Ryan’s not impressed. Tired of being a relationship loser, she’d rather kick his legendary behind. Sure, the world has been crazy ever since the sword and the stone fell out of the sky like a meteor. But despite the gruesome gargoyles, a deadly new world of magic, and the guy driving her crazy, Ryan knows that family is everything. Will Merlin sacrifice hers to save the world? Will she be able to stop him?

Why do I do this to myself? I see a fun cover, a possibly entertaining idea, and I think 'it's probably garbage, but maybe it's not' and then proceed to read it. Now, this wasn't "garbage" but it was disappointing for me. I found myself comparing it to "Avalon High" by Meg Cabbot and that made it difficult to enjoy this spin-off arthurian tale. having loved Cabbot's version infinately more. It's all about finding the new wielder of Excalibur, and Ryan is in the middle of things when she finds out her adopted brother is a candidate to take the sword, and that might've been the only reason Matt aka Merlin dated her in the first place. She's pretty upset. What I really hate about these teen books lately is the whole otherworldly attraction that is described as fate or destiny instead of what it simply is: infatuation and a crush.  As far as writing goes, it's well crafted and the plot is diverse enough to hold the reader's attention and keep them reading into the wee-hours. I admit I was ticked at Ryan's fickleness toward Merlin, and I was uncomfortable at the making out and messing around-nothing graphic, but it was enough to make me try to loosen my invisible colar in discomfort.  It was a page-turner. Who knows, I'm half likely to pick up the next one if I can find it in a library somewhere...

I give it a 3 1/2 out of 5- Because it was really entertaining, and my beef was mostly personal taste. It really was pretty good. A little above average.


By Lois Lowry

They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

Anyone who has read "The Giver" agrees that it is an incredible book; though some people don't think it is appropriate for children. I personally would let kids read it because of the message. Well, I devoured "Gathering Blue" and "The Messenger" after I found out they were set in the same world. To my delight I just found out before it was released that "Son" is the ending of this series. Wow did it need this book! It ties things together that seemed vague or loose and I was very pleased to find Jonas and Gabe again and to get to know Claire. She is an incredible character whom I fell in love with almost immediately. Now all I want is another short story to know whether Claire was able to go back and be with the man she fell for on the island...won't spoil it for you! Claire is brave and determined to find her son, and goes through everything imaginable just to find him again. Read about her journey, you won't regret it.

I give it a 4 out of 5- Above average, and finally some answers to questions in the previous books!


By Caragh M. O’Brien

After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever. She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enlcave and persuade the Protectorate to grant them refuge from the wasteland. In Gaia’s absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher. Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what—or whom—she loves most?

This book probably deserves a better review than I'm about to give it, simply because I apparently read it while I was sorta emotional....or it made me emotional or something.  Without giving spoilers suffice it to say that I was incredibly upset about the events at the end of the book, I couldn't believe how evil the people in the Enclave are to Gaia. Holy frijoles. I was so worked up when I finished, I was blinded to anything else that happened after I read the section that I got so upset with; it did end well and happy-ish. I don't know, it was a sort of dark series for me with torture and gentics and lots of invasiveness and blatant information about babies and sex and what not- it was towing the line for me about whether or not to read it. I'd be careful of letting young people read it, just depending on the sort of person you are. Like I said, some stuff upset me. It's very well written, if a little slow. That was my other beef. It felt like forever before something happened that I was truly interested in; and really most of the book I wasn't all that interested.  I dunno how to review this book. I'm certain that there will be some die-hard fans of it, and others like me who just shrug there shoulders helplessly not knowing what to think. I can't really recommend it personally, but if you enjoy the dystopian genre and aren't bothered by stolen children, werid genetics, strange customs, and references to rape, sex, etc. You might like it...

I give it a 3 out of 5- another Average. 

Daughter of the Centaurs

By Kate Klimo

 Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. My main beef: it seemed to climax too soon. I got to a point where I felt it was at a high, and it still had about 150 pages left. It was downhill and not as exciting from there. Don't get me wrong, it held my attention, it wasn't drudgery to read, it just wasn't quite as good and I was annoyed at the less than exciting ending. All that being said, it was lovely for the horse information, and Malora's wildness was intoxicating at times and recalled a woman completely free and independent at the cost of sociality and conversation. The Centaurs were interesting and differently depicted than I've seen in other books, being more human-like than wild. I found that ironic that Malora was more horse-like and free than the horse-men and women were. This was a well-written novel that was rich, but I think the plotline could've been worked out better. Not sure if I'll continue it or not. We'll see if Malora finds her a love interest, I think I might pick it up again if it looked like I could get some good warm-fuzzies out of it.
I give it a 3 out of 5- Average.

Fallen Star

By Jessica Sorenson

 For eighteen year-old Gemma, life has never been normal. Up until recently, she has been incapable of feeling emotion. And when she’s around Alex, the gorgeous new guy at school, she can feel electricity that makes her skin buzz. Not to mention the monsters that haunt her nightmares have crossed over into real-life.
But with Alex seeming to hate her and secrets popping up everywhere, Gemma’s life is turning into a chaotic mess. Things that shouldn’t be real suddenly seem to exist. And as her world falls apart, figuring out the secrets of her past becomes a matter of life and death.

Well, here's a freebee on my Kindle that I decided looked interesting. It reminded me a bit of Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" with a girl being a fallen star. (I don't consider that a spoiler seen as how most readers would put the title and the summary together). It was interesting and a little strange. I would've liked it to be a bit more...well more. It was very much the common plotline of late: awkward girl meets new boy at school and is inexplicably attracted to him. The weird thing I was trying to figure out the whole time was that Gemma is convinced that Alex hates her, but they don't even go into why, the only explaination that is offered is that he's "moody". That was a total cop-out. As for plot though, I was okay with everything, but it didn't interest me enough to go and buy the next book in the series. If it's free again I might give it a go when I have nothing better to read. Maybe. There was an interesting vampire...sort of.  Purple eyes were cool, as the cover shows. It's got some interesting things it in, sorcery and magic, falling stars and the end of the world to avert. If you like this genre, you might like to read this; give it a go if you've got some time and a Kindle to get it for free. Who knows, you might love it like I didn't! 

2 3/4 out of 5- because it was slightly below average for me personally.

Death Comes for the Archbishop

By Willa Cather

This novel follows the life story of bishop Jean Latour and his work as a catholic in a new and untamed land of the Southwest.

This was the last Willa Cather book I had to read for my major authors class and it was my least favorite. Compared to Cather's other works, this one fell short for me; it felt stale and disjointed. It follows the stories in the life of Jean Latour and his hardships in the southwest and trying to firmly place Catholisism in the lives of the people. It is interesting and infomative, as well as some choice descriptive scenes by Cather, but it lacked the richness of her Prarie narratives. It was much like One of Ours, toward the end when it is set in France and less interesting; except it was through the entire book. Anywho, if you're going to read Cather, I'd suggest reading The Professor's House or O Pioneers!

I give it a 2 1/2 out of 5

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Michael Vey: The Rise of Elgen

By Richard Paul Evans

 Michael, Taylor, Ostin, and the rest of the Electroclan have escaped from the Elgen Academy in Pasadena and are headed back to Idaho to plain their next move. But what’s waiting for them there will change everything.

After using their wits and powers to narrowly escape and Elgen trap, a mysterious voice leads the Electroclan to the jungles of Peru in search of Michael’s mother. Once there, they discover that Dr. Hatch and the Elgen are far more powerful than anyone realizes; entire countries have begun to fall under their control. Only the Electroclan and an anonymous voice now stand in the way of the Elgen’s plan for global domination.
But is the voice that Michael is following really an ally, or is it just another Elgen trap?

This is the second book in the Michael Vey series and it was just as fun as the first. It was a little slower to start with, but only a little. Mr. Evans doesn't wait long to throw you into the next heart-stopping escape or rescue attempt for the electroclan. This book centers around the rescue of Michael's mother, and brings up more mysteries and has one heck of a cliffhanger...thanks! I hate having to wait with a cliffhanger. I decided that while reading this installment, it really reminds me a lot of James Patterson's Maximum Ride series, but (in my humble opinion) much better in that it has more depth of story and character. It isn't just a pulp fiction ride, at least it doesn't feel that way.  It's not philisophical by any means, but it does have its moments of teen insight. Fun book and probably a great buy for your young boy readers, though there is some kissy kissy. (Just a bit of fair warning for the cootie believer). 

I give it a 3 1/2 out of 5 

Journey to the Fringe

By Kelli Swafford Nielson

 Long ago, Stone Mages were revered in Lyria. They were men and women who could use powerful tradestones to harness their unique gifts of wind, rain, and earth to help those around them. But war with the Southern realm has threatened the mages with extinction. The truth about the tradestones has been lost, and the remaining magic is dwindling.

When Princess Ivy, the beloved daughter of the king, is abducted, it seems that all hope for Lyria is lost as well. But when an unlikely group of loyal subjects embarks on a dangerous journey to the far-distant Fringe, the hope of restoring crown and kingdom is renewed. Among the group is Simon, a fool with wisdom beyond his years; Gilda, a nonmagical witch; Burr, a young thief; and Merrick, a jaded sea captain. Their quest will test their courage, their strength, and their friendship.
But at the Fringe, they encounter a truth that will change everything they thought they knew about themselves, and this small band of heroes must embrace the power that is their birthright and stand together as Stone Mages of Lyria.

I was excited to read this book, in hopes that I'd found a new and totally fun series (I admit I was hoping for something like Fablehaven) and was slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it was good, it was entertaining, it had good vs. evil, magic, friendship, romance...it still sorta fell flat for me though. I'm trying to figure out why, maybe it was the fact that I never got a terrific handle on the characters, and the point of view switched throughout the novel. I think that lent a hand to it feeling a little more like a plot-driven book instead of a character driven book (which I infinitely prefer). I'm not sure I'll read the next book if there is one, (I'm still unclear as to if this is a series or not). I'll probably have to be in just the right mood if I pick it up. This is a book for lazy reading and fantasy fun.

I give it a 3 out of 5 (average)

On a Pale Horse

By Piers Anthony

 When Zane shot Death, he learned, too late, that he would have to assume his place, speeding over the world riding his pale horse, and ending the lives of others. Sooner than he would have thought possible, Zane found himself being drawn into Satan’s plot. Already the Prince of Evil was forging a trap in which Zane must act to destroy Luna, the woman he loved…unless he could discover the only way out…
So I've heard that Piers Anthony is one of the names in Science fiction, so I wanted to give him a go, and found this very intriguing book about Death personified. Well...um, I hated it. Mostly. There was lots in it that I found very interesting, but it was overwhelmed with depictions of topless women, naked women, lots of naked women. Thanks. I needed that.  I was tempted to just drop the book on the first happenstance, but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that there was some redeeming quality to the book. Nope. Not enough to justify the pornography in it. I know I'm probably being harsh by some people's standards, but honestly, it wasn't necessary to the plot. I can see one reference being helpful to the plotline of Satan's evil, but holy cow, do you have to dwell on it? Anyway, I sorta have blacked out this book in my mind as having one or two good points to about a million strange and gross ones.
I give it a 1 out of 5 (just because I found no value at all)

For Darkness Shows the Stars

By Diana Peterfreund

 It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionalist is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one the could change their society… or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s facedc with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.
Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, this is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Love. Love love love. This book was great. I was hoping with such a beautiful title and the premise that it was based off of Persuasion that it would be good, and I for once was not disappointed! Yay! I finally found a good one! I have been reading classic 'rewrites' for a while in the hopes of finding something new, but familiar and found garbage and mediocrity. Diana Peterfreund does what I wanted them all to do: She took the theme and then did whatever the heck she wanted with everything else! The love story is similar, but slightly different, which I appreciated, because that is the best thing about Persuasion. But holy smokes, the plot, the setting, the characters are all unique and equally thrilling. It's set in a science fiction future where there was a reduction of humans becuase there was too much messing around with humanity that resulted in severely retarded generation of humans who cannot talk or understand anything but the simplest commands. I love that the book has such a gripping history and it isn't all about the love story, it just makes it more personal for everyone included. My only beef with it was that she had Eliot and Kai so young. I was hoping they'd be older, like in Persuasion. It worked though. I'm torn between wanting a sequel, and afraid that a sequel will just ruin this perfectly good stand-alone. Anywho, if you like sci-fi and romance, and a little Jane Austen inspiredness, I definately recomend this book. Deep characters, great plot, and intriguing world.

I give it a 4 out of 5


By Julianne Donaldson

 Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredome of bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.
From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, mariann finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke

I had heard nothing but good about this book since it came out; ladies were saying they'd cried, they'd laughed and they'd already read it about eight times. I wasn't overly inclined to read it until I kept hearing similar reports. I was afraid of a 'I'm trying too hard to be Jane Austen' author. I was warned that it was cheesy in a lot of ways, but it was a really cute book with a great CLEAN romance. That's one of the major selling pitches for the book. It is absolutely clean. Something I miss tremendously when I do get in the mood for a little romance. Erotica is revolting for me. So when I picked up Edenbrooke and started in on Marianne's story, I was immediately sucked in to the warm fuzziness of the book. It's got the romance, a mystery, an almost murder, personal tragedy, and character development. My personal favorite touch was that Marianne wasn't looking for romance...she didn't need it to survive, it happens and it's lovely. This book was so beautiful in so many ways, and it touches you. Now, for the criticism.  Being a history stickler, there are quite a few little things in this book that I knew would never happen in the Regency era between a man and a woman, and that irritated me just enough to rate this book a little lower than normal. I guess I'd call it over-familiarity?  It's nothing huge, just me being OCD. The other is the few cheesy parts that were even a little too much for this cheese lovin' gal. But overall, this is a great book for women who need a good romance in their life that doesn't come with the hot and heavy stuff.

I give it a 4 out of 5 (just because it was so refreshing to read a clean and proper romance) 

The Rise of Nine

By Pittacus Lore

 Until the day I met John Smith, Number Four, I’d been on the run alone, hiding and fighting to stay alive.

Together, we are much more powerful. But it could only last so long before we had to separate to find the others…

I went to Spain to find Seven, and I found even more, including a tenth member of the Garde who escaped from lorien alive. Ella is younger than the rest of us, but just as brave. Now we’re looking for the others—including John.

But so are they.

I was pretty happy to read this next installment of the "I Am Number Four" series. It's incredibly addicting and exciting to read. Add a little romantic drama with all the alien hunting and racing across the globe, you've got a pretty fun book. This book shifts perspectives from John, to Six, to Marina. I usually don't like shifting points of view, but it works for this book because I like all the characters in different ways. As always we get an amped up adventure of the new Lorien Guarde trying to find each other and stay together, as well as trying to figure out a way to defeat the biggest baddest Mogadorian of them all. There's also the mystery of which of the guarde that is left will turn out to be the mysterious Pittacus Lore? The obvious guess is John Smith himself, but I'm hoping for something tricky on the author's part. Here's hoping the next book comes out soon so I can find out what happens to them next! 

I give it a 3 1/2 out of 5 (slightly above average)

The Scarlet Letter

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

 The classic puritan story of Hester Prynne, an unfaithful woman who has a child out of wedlock with an unknown man and is forced to wear the scarlet letter A on her chest as a penance for her crime.  Full of symbolism and questions of what is morally right, this novel has been acclaimed as the best American work of literature.
So, I admit I'm a fan of Hawthorne, becuase he's a fellow that knows his way around words. He is one of those authors that can choose the best word possible for the situation he's writing about. That being said, in The Scarlet Letter, of which I'm sure I'm not the only one who was required to read this in high school, is more a book about symbols than people. Irritating if you're a character-oriented person. BUT...this book is pretty amazing from a literary standpoint, even if it isn't the easiest or most entertaining book out there. In my opinion, the fast plots and instant gratification of our culture has deprived us of the slow and beautiful messages of the older authors. This is the story of a woman who did a huge no-no at this point in history; in fact she was pretty lucky not to have been killed for her adultery.  While the characters are over-the-top dramatic at times, this book is a powerful indicator of what goes on behind closed doors and how lies and deciet can spiritually kill a person.  If you've never read this, go back to your Puritan roots and give it a go. If nothing else, you can cross it off of your 'books to read before I die' list.