I like the story. I like the magic. I like the writing. But it all seemed a little sexist too me. That made me uncomfortable. I do, however, recommendI like the story. I like the magic. I like the writing. But it all seemed a little sexist too me. That made me uncomfortable. I do, however, recommend it. It builds a cool world of magic and explains lots of fantastic creatures and phenomena....more
This is why I trusted my friends and re-watched Seven Samurai. Some great things. Things you might love, just aren't right for you at that moment in tThis is why I trusted my friends and re-watched Seven Samurai. Some great things. Things you might love, just aren't right for you at that moment in time. I read the first volume of the big hardcover editions about 2.5 years ago. I wasn't that into. I read it for pleasure and it felt like homework. Read that review here. Now I read it for homework and it felt like pleasure. I sat outside, drinking a beer, grilling some burgers and just loving every minute of it. Sad that Gaiman found this work lacking on rereading it, I found it refreshing....more
I gave the last volume 5 stars although I don't remember why. Early on I really loved this series. It was strange, violent, funny, and action-packed.I gave the last volume 5 stars although I don't remember why. Early on I really loved this series. It was strange, violent, funny, and action-packed. Then it began to wear on me. In the beginning the action scenes were clear, later in the series they became muddy and confusing. I didn't feel I was reading something fresh and inventive. Instead, as the series wore on I felt I was reading something just trying to stay afloat until the end. And thank goodness for the end. The inevitable end. *Snooze*...more
Call it award baiting, but this book has classic written all over it. No wonder it won the Caldecott. Charming and gentle. This book will be read forCall it award baiting, but this book has classic written all over it. No wonder it won the Caldecott. Charming and gentle. This book will be read for years and years to come.
I gave this to another librarian, who has worked in our children's department since I was a child, and she loved it. She said it reminded her of books from the 70s. Couldn't agree more. And I love the vintageness. Our new books feel well-read, and lived in.
Condie, A. (2010). Matched. New York, NY: Dutton Childrens Books.
In Cassia’s society Officials choose everything for the citizens, from what they eatCondie, A. (2010). Matched. New York, NY: Dutton Childrens Books.
In Cassia’s society Officials choose everything for the citizens, from what they eat to who they marry. When Cassia is matched with her best friend, life couldn’t get better. Until an error makes her rethink everything. It seems most YA books being publishes include love triangles. This one is no different. However, Cassia really does have a hard time choosing and it doesn’t seem added just to create drama. While the romance is front and center, imagine Twilight meets The Giver, the political intrigue set-up for the later books is far more interesting. On that same note, this book draws to a natural conclusion, the hero makes her choices, and there are consequences and delights in it, but then it wears out its welcome. The last few chapters are merely set-up for later books in the series, which will leave some readers unsatisfied.
Just a quick note: The audiobook is great, but the end really seems to drag here. I would have just picked up the book if it wasn’t checked out at my library.
Similar Titles (Read-A-Likes): The Line by Terri Hall, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien, Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Giver by Lois Lowry...more
Billingsley, F. (2011). Chime. New York, NY: Dial Books.
Briony is a witch. She killed her stepmother. She drove her twin sister crazy. She thinks sheBillingsley, F. (2011). Chime. New York, NY: Dial Books.
Briony is a witch. She killed her stepmother. She drove her twin sister crazy. She thinks she deserves to hang for her evil. But when Eldric, an older boy, arrives from London she begins to relish being bad. Billingsley creates a heroine that is wholly unique, and maybe darker than she lets on. The voice is consistent, but, at times, annoying. "My heart rings itself out. I am drowing in heart juice" (p. 335) Some may find this endearing. Like I said, it is consistent and true to Briony. On the other hand, it often feels forced, like Billingsley is trying to show the reader how clever she is. Maybe she is clever though. Chime is rarely predictable, filled with magic, suspense, and romance that many teens will fall in love with.
I picked this book up after some Twitter friends were all a-buzz over it. I disagree with them that it is the bee's knees. But that isn't to say it is a bad book. It just wasn't for me. The first chapter is maybe one of the best first chapters I have read . . . ever. It just never lives up to that hype. And, well, I just grew tired of Briony. I didn't want to keep picking this up, and it was a chore to finish it.
I started to think this is one of those books that will be popular with librarians and teachers, but will find a limited audience with teens. I could be wrong, I know many teens who have this one on their radar. However, who cares if it is a book just for librarians and teachers? People act like that is a bad thing. Librarians and teachers are patrons too. For that matter, they are readers. Go librarians!
Speaking of people who liked this book, here is a review from Wicked Awesome Books . . . just to have a more balanced view for you.
Similar Titles (Read-A-Likes): We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (this recommendation came from Bookshelves of Doom on Twitter), Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, Rebel Angels by Libba Bray, Greenwitch by Susan Cooper...more
Le Guin, U. K. (1968). A wizard of earthsea. New York, NY: Spectra.
Le Guin's classic fantasy novel introduces a Ged, a young wizard who needs to learnLe Guin, U. K. (1968). A wizard of earthsea. New York, NY: Spectra.
Le Guin's classic fantasy novel introduces a Ged, a young wizard who needs to learn how to harness his powers. During his wizard training Ged accidentally releases a great evil. He spends most of the novel trying to defeat this foe, which proves difficult. Some fantasy uses magic as a way to get its characters out of trouble. A Wizard of Earthsea, however, doesn't let the wizards practice magic without consequence. And while the beginning is slow-going, Le Guin builds suspense through her story and packs it full of danger and the dark arts. As Ged matures, and comes to understand his power, the reader will get wrapped up in the wonderfully built world. Recommended for 8th grade and up.
Similar titles (Read-a-Likes): Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, Howl's Moving Castle by Diane Wynn Jones, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien...more
Oswalt, P. (2011). Zombie spaceship wasteland: a book by Patton Oswalt. New York, NY: Scribner.
Oswalt, a bit of a cult comedian, mixes memoir and bitOswalt, P. (2011). Zombie spaceship wasteland: a book by Patton Oswalt. New York, NY: Scribner.
Oswalt, a bit of a cult comedian, mixes memoir and bit comedy in his strange and nearly perfect first book. Told in short vignettes, starting with his time working in a movie theater and moving to his time as a comedian, Oswalt shows he is a surprisingly gifted writer. He is capable of laugh-out-loud moments, his notes on an improbably fart and masturbation filled romantic comedy are pure gold. He is at his best in this book though when he is observing his life. His matter-of-fact, terse style can manage to give insight into his life as well as destroy the reader in 10 words or less. The collection is still a bit of a hodgepodge with not enough of his soul-piercing insight. Recommended for 9th grade and up.
Those familiar with Oswalt's standup will not be surprised by the hit-and-miss nature of this book. He is a great observationalist, and he rarely goes for easy jokes, but he can sometime miss his mark entirely or drag a joke on a bit too long. That isn't really the problem here. He doesn't drag out joke or stories, he just doesn't have enough of the really good stuff here. The stories "We're Playing in a Snow Fort" and "Peter Runfola" manage to capture his off-kilter view of the world, while also destroying me as a reader with simple truths. And many of the stories are like that, interspersed with really funny gags, "Punch-Up Notes" is one of these (that's the one about the romantic comedy). I loved laughing at the funny parts and loved reading his stories, which prove he is a truly talented writer. The two never seem to co-exist though, and that is probably my problem.
Similar Titles (Read-A-Likes): The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (No, I am not joking), Seven Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin by James Sullivan, I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny At All edited by Judd Apatow, Satiristas: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians by Dan Dion, I Drink for a Reason by David Cross
Full Disclosure: I checked this book out from my library....more
Bacigalupi , P. (2010). Ship breaker. New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Nailer scavenges ship parts on the beaches of a hurricane raBacigalupi , P. (2010). Ship breaker. New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Nailer scavenges ship parts on the beaches of a hurricane ravaged New Orleans. When him and his friend, Pima, come across an expensive clipper ship they hope they can earn enough money to get them out of a miserable life. Bacigalupi creates a violent and hauntingly prescient future where children literally scavenge to stay alive. Everyone in the world dreams of discovering a way above their current status, and Nailer finds just that. The writing is crisp and vibrant. Blood feels like it could be coming from the reader. And when Nailer finds himself immersed in viscous oil early in the book, his lack of breath is so clear, the reader may find themselves struggling to get free as well. The world is bleak, but the characters are hopeful. The novel reads as a standalone, which is a plus as it is part of a proposed series.
I totally recommend this book. Especially to those looking for some violent dystopias (Hunger Games?). The action is quick, and there is plenty of meat to keep readers minds active. Not to mention the fact that there are a few times that Paolo Bacigalupi keeps the reader on edge. Literally.
Pima and Nailer find a girl, whom they think is dead, upon the clipper ship. Pima tries to take the rings off of the girl’s fingers. It doesn’t work, so she tries to cut the girl’s fingers off. Her eyes fly open. HOLY CATS! I COULD BARELY SLEEP AFTER THAT!
Similar Titles (Read-A-Likes): Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, The Hourse of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer, The Big Empty by J.B. Stephens ...more
Clare, C. (2007). City of bones. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry.
Clary Fray is just a normal teenager, until she encounters a murder that no one eClare, C. (2007). City of bones. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry.
Clary Fray is just a normal teenager, until she encounters a murder that no one else could see. Then a monster breaks into her house and kidnaps her mother. As if things couldn’t get any stranger, Clary discovers she is an integral part of an underground world. A world that includes demons and the Shadowhunters that kill them. Fans of Buffy or Supernatural will love this urban fantasy. City of Bones is snarky and dark, building an interesting new world for Clary and her new Shadowhunting friends to play and slay in. Overall, the writing is a little too cute and clever, and the story is familiar. But the characters are strong and the jokes are funny, making for a good read. (Grades 8+ for some mild language and sexuality.)
DON’T listen to the audiobook. Ari Graynor is a great actress, she is great in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but she misses the mark her. She just doesn’t have the spark to really make this a great audiobook.
The bad audiobook also points out the bigger flaws of the book book. That is . . . it is adverb city. Seriously. A hospital is aggressively air-conditioned. A character makes a fantastically illegal u-turn (or something like that). Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed this if I’d been reading the book and I would have been more into the demon killing. However, the audiobook seemed to drag on forever, and at some point I stopped caring about the story, and the characters. So all I heard were all the aggravatingly annoying adverbs.
I’m sure fans of this series are aware of its derivativeness, but c’mon. Why not just watch Buffy or Supernatural and read Harry Potter (or any other fantasy series for that matter). It’ll have the same effect.
So, I feel like I am trashing this book quite a bit, when it wasn’t really that bad. Clare does a great job of building the mythology for the series and she has a great foundation for a world. It isn’t her fault that the same thing has been done before, and that could be why she was so interested in building her world. The book certainly isn’t sloppy, and the humor is quite effective.
Similar Titles (Read-A-Likes):
Buffy Books, Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV Series), Angel (TV Series), Vampire Diaries (TV Series), and Supernatural (TV Series)...more
So I just started my MLIS after 5 years of being able to read what I want when I want. It has been a shock to my lifestyle. I have to read for pleasurSo I just started my MLIS after 5 years of being able to read what I want when I want. It has been a shock to my lifestyle. I have to read for pleasure. So I picked this up for fun. It is fun. I was a little bored, but it is playful and silly and it helped break the monotony. ...more
Whew. Wow. Whew. I mean, like, holy flippin' crap! This is an amazing book! You know . . . there are vampires. It's really hot right now. It's blah . . .Whew. Wow. Whew. I mean, like, holy flippin' crap! This is an amazing book! You know . . . there are vampires. It's really hot right now. It's blah . . . blah . . . blah . . . AWESOME! It's hard not to be let down by a book with a lot of hype. It's also easy to be surprised. Cronin falls into the latter category of surprising. Sure this is a vampire book, and the bulk of it is action-y, suspense-y, horror-y, like one might expect a vamp book to be. But it is also nuanced, layered, character rich, and fascinating, especially in the first 250 pages. It keeps a lot of its more literary elements going throughout the whole book, but it becomes more what you'd initially expect later on, moving from action piece to action piece. But it balances both accessible bits and brainy bits quite well. The vampires are scary and Cronin and his editor have a knack for leaving the readers just gasping for air, thinking, "What the freak is going to happen next?" Jeez. It is often quite intense. It's also big. I was so caught up I didn't want to return it to my library . . . but I did, and bought my own copy just so I could finish the journey faster. Most books over 700 pages don't usually keep my attention this long. Or I start to wonder where the editor was. I think, "This book could stand to lose hundreds of pages." I'm generally in the camp of brevity. Have you ever seen the Gettysburg Address . . . it is short and memorable. However, while reading The Passage, I didn't want a single page, character, word, whatever to be missing. Sure, I guess a little fat could be trimmed, somewhere. That's always true, but it wouldn't really be trimming fat . . . it'd be like, I don't have a proper metaphor, but, ok, it'd be like trimming fat to make it slightly more delicious, instead of most long books needing to trim fat just to be palatable. Then there is the end. It may cause a bit of a stir. It's bleak. It's also strange. Let me be clear, it isn't my favorite part of the book. It's not that I don't like the intention, but the placement is strange. If there is one flaw it is that, really the whole postscript could have been moved around 10 pages. The postscript could have been the chapter right before the postscript and it would have been a bleak ending, but less strange and more in line with the "there is a silver lining" that seems to run through the rest of the book. But again, I have no problem with the postscript, just that that is how Cronin chose to end the book. If it'd been a movie, I would have immediately rewatched it with commentary to get the author's take on events. ...more
This book is like uh-mazing. It looked interesting, other people I know have liked it . . . so I had high hopes. And I started it and I thought, "Oh nThis book is like uh-mazing. It looked interesting, other people I know have liked it . . . so I had high hopes. And I started it and I thought, "Oh no! I built this up too much." It starts off a little rocky, and to be fair Pierson isn't the most gifted writer. His sentences are sometimes clunky. Sometimes. However, this isn't a book that requires gracefulness, or even a steady hand. It sometimes leaps out-of-control, yet it always feels in control and, here's the key to its awesomeness, authentic. The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To is about two boys, Darren and Eric, who bond over a gigantic sci-fi epic (10 movies, graphic novels, a book series, etc.) The draw, as the title may suggest, is that Eric can't sleep. He's never been able to. So he just doesn't. He spends his extra time learning about stuff. He also has pretty bad episodes of vivid hallucinations. So the boys share this secret and this bond and their love of geeking out super big time. And Pierson handles the characters so well that it's easy to just go with the "surreal" leaps this book makes. Both Eric and Darren feel like legit teenagers. Their friendship isn't easy, but it makes sense. They are outsiders, like we've seen in thousands of books about teenagers, but they don't whine about being losers or pretend they are better than everyone. They just exist and do what makes them happy. Those thoughts come up from time to time, but they don't permeate their every minute. And they aren't too masculine. Girls and boys will be able to connect with them, because we hang out with people like them every day (OK, Eric can't sleep and he is sometimes awkward, but we know those people too.) The only downside is the one major female character, Christine. She is fleshed out to some extent later in the book. Although, for the most part she feels like a plot device, part of that is intentional; part of it is Pierson not spending enough time to develop her better. Uh, I ran out of steam . . . and thoughts. Really it's awesome. Read it ...more
I know. I know. Everybody loves Rapunzel's Revenge. I, however, found it . . . mediocre. Cool idea. Fun characters. Nice retelling. But no energy. ThisI know. I know. Everybody loves Rapunzel's Revenge. I, however, found it . . . mediocre. Cool idea. Fun characters. Nice retelling. But no energy. This, however, has plenty of energy. And I like Jack better than Rapunzel. So . . . it's better!...more
Dear Hype Train, I am glad you occasionally pick up a passenger that belongs there. Sincerely,
Scott Rader (and probably other Beautiful Creatures fans.)Dear Hype Train, I am glad you occasionally pick up a passenger that belongs there. Sincerely,
Scott Rader (and probably other Beautiful Creatures fans.)
Lena Duchannes is the new girl in Gatlin County, South Carolina, a place that hasn't changed much, and doesn't see many "new girls." Gatlin residents are still a little broken up about the Civil War. They don't care much for progressiveness. It's the kind of backwater town people want to leave, or that get trapped in and hacked to pieces by a lunatic. Ethan Wate is one of Gatlin's residents who would rather leave. His mother recently died, and since then him and his father barely speak. He reads to escape, something not many of his friends do. He does what is expected of him, although not with great pleasure. He's one of the basketball teams stand-out stars, but readers get the feeling he's only there out of obligation. He's even dated cheerleaders. But he wants more. And if you can't see where this is going . . . well, I'll tell you. Obviously, Lena and Ethan are meant to be together. Right? Well, as the back of the book says, "Some loves are meant to be . . . others are cursed."
This is the kind of book I never really saw myself getting into. I mean, it seemed awful Twilight-y from what I read. It is, indeed, a supernatural romance between a mortal and, because I don't want to ruin things, a not-mortal. It isn't, however, as girly or cheesesauce as that may sound. Part of that comes from the awesome decision to make Ethan the narrator. Sure, he's sensitive and falling head over heels in Nicholas Sparksian love, but he's also a guy and he isn't fawning, primping, gushing, and laughing in whispers over Lena. There's also a deeper mystery that shoots through the story, so 500+ pages aren't spent on how much these two love each other. There's danger, hatred, a wonderful cast of characters, which are real instead of quirky. Look at the slightly evil Uncle Macon, who looks like Cary Grant, but may be the most dangerous person in the book, except they spend time giving him more dimensionality. He isn't just written off as pure evil or as it turns out, pure good. He, even in his good moments, always seems like he may snap and kill the entire cast, giving his character an uneasy edge every time he appears in a scene. Also, the supernatural element in Beautiful Creatures is made more human. That is more human than a vampire. Vampires can die, but they don't seem real. It makes them hard, or creepy, to be attracted or connected to. Here, however, the supernatural character (it seems like that is supposed to be a surprise to I am bobbing and weaving from saying who or what) isn't ageless or immortal. So it isn't creepy. Also, they are always in just as much danger as the "mortal" character, making their power necessary to keep both characters safe. Ok. This is tricky.
What made me fall in love with this book was 1.)the believable, 3-dimensional (no relation to Avatar) characters and 2.)the beautiful writing. Stohl and Garcia have a way of intoxicating the reader with their prose. They take some of the girly away from the romance, and gave us an intense, epic thriller to grab on to. ...more
Having "bizarre" in the title shouldn't give a book free reign to do whatever it wants, but it helps. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure certainly does whateverHaving "bizarre" in the title shouldn't give a book free reign to do whatever it wants, but it helps. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure certainly does whatever it wants. Whatever it wants including, but not limited to: a vampire with a human's body, spirit warriors, tongue devouring bugs, gamblers who play for souls, a foul-mouthed/tempered dog, and more vehicle wrecks than any Hollywood action flick could dream of. Hirohiko Araki schizophrenic epic manga series works though, because it sets up the rules of the bizarre adventure and rarely, if ever breaks them. So it's easy to accept anything and everything, as long as the reader isn't betrayed. It doesn't hurt that JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is packed with blood, humor, and pop culture references (the title itself inspired the Beatles song, "Get Back.") Also, as the kid who sold me on the series noted, the characters in JoJo's don't become magically stronger or gain a coincidental new skill to fight a stronger enemy, instead, they must use the skills they as a group or as an individual possess. While the outcome of the fights are sometime resolved unconvincingly, the series always relies on the characters using their brains to guide their brawn....more