I'd really rather give this one 4.5 stars, because it was an excellent book. Although a young adult book, it is definitely sophisticated enough for an...moreI'd really rather give this one 4.5 stars, because it was an excellent book. Although a young adult book, it is definitely sophisticated enough for an adult to enjoy it (I don't consider myself sophisticated, but I still think a person who is would like it). I liked that the suspense builds. There are no cheap thrills or shock value scares. Instead, the author takes his time and builds up the menace so that you spend your time trying to prepare yourself for the scare. Even still, you won't hear someone yelling 'boo.' Instead the moment of dread will come and you will think, whoa, "I'm glad I'm not in Tom's shoes right now." I do love stories where a character comes into their destiny, and this is one of them. Tom wasn't really sure that he wanted to be a spook after all. But he didn't have any other trade in mind, and he definitely didn't like farming. But it turned out his destiny was waiting for him as the seventh son of the seventh son. He was apprenticed to train as the next Spook, which is a person who rids the towns of evil, supernatural creatures. It is a job that is looked down on by others, and promises to bring the bearer a lonely life. But at the time, Tom figures it's better than farming, and his mother doesn't really give him much of a choice. Let's just say she had his destiny determined long before he was born. You get to see Tom struggle with his role as the Spook's Apprentice, several times, deciding to quit but having his mind changed in various ways. He makes some mistakes along the way, but learns from them, so there is also a good coming of age story in this book.
I like that there is definitely good and evil in this book. But there are also humans who could go either way. Yes there are bad witches, but there are some that are benign. There is one character that is likely to be in-between, and she has a very pivotal role. I believe that she will have a very important place in Tom's life as he matures. Perhaps there will be a romantic future for Tom and Alice when they get older.
The parts with the witches really did unnerve me. They are horrible creatures who kill and eat people and use their bones for dark magic. It was refreshing to read a book that actually had bad witches for once. I was very proud of young Tom for facing off on not one, but two witches that were out for his blood and his bones, and saving a young child that was likely to be one of their victims.
The author really did a great job of setting a sinister tone. It wasn't over the top, but very subtle and building. His use of words drew a very vivid image, where I felt as though I was standing there and the witch was crawling out of the grave to get me.
Another thing I liked was that this story was not predictable. You don't know how it's going to end. You don't know the way in which the witch will manifest herself. She could have possessed any one of the people in the house during the climax moments of this story.
Tom was a sympathetic, likable narrator. He was realistic for his age, but I truly did admire his bravery although he was scared when a rational person would have been scared. He was often left to deal with situations that would have been challenging for a grown-up, much less a boy of twelve. He risked his life to do the right thing, and that was very admirable to me.
There are questions that I would still like answers to, but reading the next books in the series, will definitely give insight into the enigmatic Spook, and Tom's mother, who has gifts that are still somewhat mysterious at this point.
If you want to read a young adult book that has the appeal of giving a good, sustained scare instead of a series of shock value, short-lived scares, I think you would enjoy this one. A cool bonus with this book is pages of Tom's journal, a map of the areas in the book, and the key to the codes used by a Spook in his trade.(less)
Another downer from Oprah's bookclub. But it was a very good book. I really liked the protagonist and I felt for his difficult situation, being very y...moreAnother downer from Oprah's bookclub. But it was a very good book. I really liked the protagonist and I felt for his difficult situation, being very young and having to take care of his sisters and wanting a life of his own. Some quite disturbing things happen in this book, so a reader should be prepared. The ending is not overtly sad, but it could be happy. I believe there is hope for this young man's future and that was encouraging to me.(less)
I loved this book. It was very different and kept my interest in a way that a great urban fantasy should. I really fell in love with Cal and his broth...moreI loved this book. It was very different and kept my interest in a way that a great urban fantasy should. I really fell in love with Cal and his brother Niko. I love books that show a positive view of siblings since I love my sister and get along so well with her. If you enjoy the relationship between Sam and Dean on Supernatural, you'd probably like this book for that reason. Some of the elements of their relationship bring to mind the Winchester brothers. Niko is a man that I could marry. His love for his brother was so intense and so all-consuming the way a sibling should love. I love his dedication to being the best warrior that he can so that he can protect Cal when his "other relatives" try to take him back. When he cut his hair off in grief, I just about lost it.
I enjoyed the new twist on elves, and I found the action sequences so vivid they jumped off the page at me. There were some genuinely scary moments that sent a chill down my spine (I love a good scare). I liked the noir-esque narrative, peppered with wry humor and in a voice that really sounded like a young man (I was surprised the author is a woman) who has seen more bad than good in the world. In fact, I think Cal is a great character and a real trooper considering what he has gone through and the heritage he has to face.
I love that Cal's sweet on a young woman who is biracial and can see the future (you know me and my love for interracial romance). Fans of shows like Buffy and Angel would like this book because it has the feel of these shows, but delves deeper than an hour long show can. I liked the very interesting secondary cast of characters and beasties (as a lifelong fan of folklore, I am always happy to see some of the beasties in fiction books). I loved that I actually had to look up a few like the boggle who lived in the pond in Central Park. Fans of Harry Dresden from the Jim Butcher novels and John Taylor from Simon R. Green's Nightside novels will probably like this book and consider it a book that might show what Harry and John might have been like as a young man. In the end, I just can't say enough good things about this book. I will buy every book Rob Thurman writes and particularly the Cal Leandros series. If you are an old fan of urban fantasy, a new fan, or wanting to branch out to this wonderful genre, please read this book.(less)
This book is one of the best books I've ever read. It has so many layers. It is an excellent coming of age book that deals with the issues of racism,...moreThis book is one of the best books I've ever read. It has so many layers. It is an excellent coming of age book that deals with the issues of racism, injustice, intolerance, and bigotry so eloquently. It also shows the love between a father and his children, and the true meaning of courage. It's a shame that Harper Lee only wrote this one book. But at least she hit the ball out of the park with this one book. Atticus Finch is one of my all time favorite heroes.(less)
To be honest, I didn't understand the book when I read it. The Cliff Notes helped me to understand what a powerful book it was. It is very artisticall...moreTo be honest, I didn't understand the book when I read it. The Cliff Notes helped me to understand what a powerful book it was. It is very artistically written, and that is appreciated. I like the symbolism that Faulkner used, and the use of different narrators in each section. I felt tremendous sympathy for Dilsey and Benjy, and Caddy (seen through the eyes of the other characters), and I strongly disliked Jason.
I owe this book for the symbolic phraseology of "Caddy smelled like trees." This was how Benjy knew that Caddy was a virgin, and when she was no longer a virgin, she lost the smell of trees. I went around that whole summer saying that. How lame am I?
I pat myself on the back that I did finish this book, even if I needed the Cliff Notes crutch. If you are a fan of Southern Gothic, a uniquely American twist on the gothic genre, in which the decaying manse on the moor is replaced by the decaying southern mansion, but the same elements of insanity and breakdown within family. If that is your thing, you should read this book, and maybe you will understand it better than I did.(less)
Elsewhere is moody. It's from the viewpoint of young people who have dropped out and live on the streets, forming their own families and relationships...moreElsewhere is moody. It's from the viewpoint of young people who have dropped out and live on the streets, forming their own families and relationships. I don't especially feel comfortable with the idea of kids living this way, but that's one of the best things about reading. You get to see different worlds, lives, existences, and realize that humans are all the same, no matter what kind of lives they live.
Ron came to the Bordertown to find his older brother. He was living in denial, and this trip helped him to find himself, to let go of notions about who he was and what was important in life. I liked seeing him go through that evolution.
It was interesting how his name changed as his personality, or should I say who he thought he was, went through transitions. It was kind of ironic that he found peace within when his last manifestation would have seemed the most unfortunate. He found a family in the place he least expected it, but he sort of came full circle. To say more would be spoil the book.
This is a thoughtful book, with the capacity to inspire deep emotions in a reader. I picked it up because I am intensely interested in stories about Faerie, and this book is very good for those who like Faerie. Along with those elements is a deep story that gives a little more along with the surface fantastical elements. This book is about how we think we express our identities, purpose, bonds of loyalty and affection. How a person takes all those ingredients and uses them to become who they are meant to be, if they can make it through the painful metamorphosis that leads to the final state: that of the butterfly who emerges from its chrysalis, not without a lot of pain and effort. (less)
It seems silly to say that a book can affect you on a profound level. well I definitely believe in this power that a good book has. Jane Eyre is one o...moreIt seems silly to say that a book can affect you on a profound level. well I definitely believe in this power that a good book has. Jane Eyre is one of them. I cannot say that this was an easy book to read. But it was a book that I was very enriched by reading. Romance is a genre that is looked down on by many "sophisticated readers." Perhaps they would look down on Jane Eyre, but would probably get some eyebrows raised at them. Well Jane Eyre is the archetype for the romance novel. After having read thousands of them, I know a romance novel when I see it, and Jane Eyre does qualify. But it is much more than this. It's a story for the person who wonders why they keep trying to do the right thing, and persevering in life, instead of just taking what they want when they want it. If Jane Eyre had been that sort of person, she would not have gotten her happy ending. Instead, Jane walked away from the thing she wanted most in the world. She almost died doing what she felt in her heart was right. Had the story ended there, I probably would have detested this book. But it doesn't. We see Jane continue to grow and act as the phenomenal person that she was. Although often downtrodden, she is no meek mouse. She has a fighting spirit that keeps her going when others would have laid down and died. But despite being a fighter, she is not a user and abuser. It's hard at times for the difference to be clearly delineated. Well there is no question about Jane's level of strength and intregrity. Although it is made clear several times in this novel, that Jane is no beauty, her soul makes her a beautiful character. Beautiful in a more profound way.
There are moments when you feel, how can one person suffer so? But taking the journey, you realize that all Jane's suffering had a purpose. It refined her into a woman who could look beneath and love what others could never love or understand. It made her the woman who could love and heal Rochester.
At the same time, Rochester was made for Jane Eyre. He had searched his life for a woman like her, and made quite a few mistakes along the way. And out of love, he was able to let her go when he wanted to keep her. But she came back to him, when he needed her most.
Rochester is the hero that formed the archetype for many of my favorites: tortured, scarred, dark, enigmatic, all of those things. Best of all, loving little, plain, ordinary Jane with a fundamental intensity that pours out of the pages of this book into my heart as a reader. Despite his lack of perfection, I could not love him more.
Ah, how maudlin I sound. I can't help it. This book moved me to tears. Yet I smiled at the same time. I enjoyed the conversations between Rochester and Jane. There was a heat there, a passion. Yet this book is clean enough to read in Sunday school. That is grand romance. The journey so well expressed, that no sex scenes are needed. It's all there.
This novel is also inspirational. Not preachy, in my opinion, but for a believer, one can definitely find spiritual messages in this book. About perseverance, about not wearying about doing good. About the profoundness of God's love. It's all there, but in a narrative that expertly showcases it, not preaching it.
I feel I am failing to write the review I want to write for this book. The words do fail me. All I can say is that this book will always be a favorite of mine because of the way it touched my heart and challenged me.
This was an interesting read with a different take on vampires that borrowed from familiar nuances but took things in a different directions. Rose is...moreThis was an interesting read with a different take on vampires that borrowed from familiar nuances but took things in a different directions. Rose is a likeable protagonist, despite being a touch reckless. But then she's a teen who has a tough road ahead of her. Dimitri is some kind of yummy. A formidable warrior and guardian, he is disciplined, observant, dedicated, and hopelessly in love with Rose, although she is forbidden to him. He accepts and understands her as no one does, even Lissa, who has a unique bond with Rose. I do hope that they get together at some point, and I look forward to more interactions between Rose and Dimitri.
I don't feel like I got to know Lissa nearly as well, but I hope that over the course of this series, I will come to know her. I do love that she cares just as much for Rose, and made enormous sacrifices for her, despite the fact that Rose is expected to literally lay down her life for Lissa.
Christian is an intriguing character who has the elements that I really like in a character: misunderstood, enigmatic, a little bit dark and tortured. I definitely want to know more about him.
The infusing of Slavic/Russian culture into this book was a welcome surprise. Fascinated as I am with Russian culture, I enjoyed those elements. It also added to the mysterious and in some ways sinister mood of the story.
Things I didn't care for as much: There is a good bit of the high school pettiness (I hated high school with a fiery, burning passion) in this book: reckless partying, cliques, casual sex (not the main characters), gossiping, etc. I'm not a big fan of all that, but since this is a teen/young adult book, it's expected. Despite that, I think a older person who likes a good vampire story would definitely enjoy this story and find something fresh and interesting in it.(less)
There are just some books that you have no conception of how much you will come to love, until you read the book, and fall in love. That's what happen...moreThere are just some books that you have no conception of how much you will come to love, until you read the book, and fall in love. That's what happened to me with this book. At 722 pages, I think this is the longest book I've ever read and finished, all the way through. When I read it, the world fell away. The mark of a good book.
I worry about my reviews being too repetitive, and I don't want to mess this one up. So I'll keep it simple.
I would ask this book to marry me, if it was legal to marry a book. If I had to choose a book to take to a desert island, this book would be on my final consideration list. Yes, I am known for my bizarre excitement when it comes to books. They mean so much to me. I may seem like I hype books unnecessarily. It's not the case. But, if a book finds a place on the shelf in my heart, then I do want to rave about it. Such is the case with The Name of the Wind.
If you aren't sure about diving into a 722 page book, take a chance. My game plan was to read it over the month. Hah! I read it in about a week. I was that sucked in. Not sure that your interest will be sustained for over 700 pages? I don't think you'll be disappointed, if you enjoy books with fascinating characters. And Kvothe is definitely fascinating.
This book made me cry, it made me laugh, it made me angry. I got excited, I got frustrated. I was sad when it ended. Yes, even after 722 pages, I wanted more.
I walked the long road that Kvothe walked. I couldn't abandon him. When the book would go from his story narrative and back to the inn where he was telling his story to the Chronicler, I was like, "Wait. I want to hear more." That's the kind of story that Kvothe has. I don't want to suffer the things he did. But, I like the idea of having an epic story of my life to tell someone. That probably won't happen in real life, but there's an identification factor here in this: We were all young, and rich with dreams; we have all cried bitter tears as some of those dreams died painful deaths. Only for new dreams and possiblities to be born. That is what this book shows.
I may add more to this review, because I think I could say more. Right now, I think this will do. I hope you decide to read The Name of the Wind someday.(less)
Magician: Apprentice is an appealing introduction into an epic fantasy series that a newbie can enjoy. It offers a young hero who is just at the begin...moreMagician: Apprentice is an appealing introduction into an epic fantasy series that a newbie can enjoy. It offers a young hero who is just at the beginning of his journey to find his purpose in life. Feist offers a fantasy world on the brink of war from a threat that has the capacity to bring great change to Midkemia as they know it.
While the world has a typical medieval-type feel, the variety of races presented give the world an incredible texture. I loved the descriptions of the elves and their way of life, how they are similar and different from the Dark Brotherhood, Elves who have fallen into a darker way of life. I have to say that the dwarves really caught my attention. Their beliefs, values and their skill at fighting and navigating the mines of the Stone Mountains. Of course, loved the dragon!
I wasn't sure about the Tsurani storyline initially, but it takes this story in a different direction from what I initially expected. It sets up an incredible culture clash that takes this novel to a wider focus as the Midkemians have to work together to stave off the invasion of forces from another world.
Initially, it seems that Pug, our young magician apprentice, is the center of this story. But it becomes clear that various characters gain the focus of Feist. Starting out like a coming of age story, and I suppose it continues to be one in some way, this story becomes one about people dealing with their world being invaded by a formidable group of people whose values are completely alien to their own, and who seem invincible.
One detractor I'd have for this story is that it's not a standalone. The story doesn't end on an obvious cliffhanger, but you definitely have to keep reading to find out what happens to all the pivotal characters. With a massively overflowing to read list, I am not eager for too many series to add, but the strength of the story and the good writing here, guarantees I will be back for more.
Fantasy Beginner Rating (explanation: Scale is based on whether this is a good book for beginner fantasy readers or it is better for one who has read a lot of fantasy. High-Good starter book. Medium-Okay for a beginner. Low-May be confusing for a novice fantasy-reader.):
**spoiler alert** Sugar Daddy was one of those books that I dreaded reading, in all honesty. Let me tell you why.
1)I do not like chick lit or women's...more**spoiler alert** Sugar Daddy was one of those books that I dreaded reading, in all honesty. Let me tell you why.
1)I do not like chick lit or women's fiction. I like a story that has a defined beginning and a defined end, that has landmarks, and ends on a happy note. To my understanding, chick lit and women's fiction does not need to meet these expectations.
2)I was dismayed that one of my most beloved authors was leaving the historical romance scene (my most beloved subgenre within my favorite genre) to write contemporary novels. I feared that the amount of quality historical romances would be that much more diminished than before with her leaving it behind.
3)Because I am such a big fan of Kleypas, I was afraid I would read this book, and truly hate one of her books for the first time.
4)Let's be honest, I abhor love triangles. Whenever I pick up a book, and it has the phrase, 'torn between two lovers,' it goes back on the shelf. I won't buy it. I like my romance predictable in this sense. I want to know who the heroine ends up with before I start the book.
So, having said all these reasons I put off reading Sugar Daddy so long, I am very glad I read it, and I found it to be an excellent book. Was it perfect in meeting my expectations? To say yes would be a lie. I did have the following issues with Sugar Daddy:
1)The beginning seemed drastically different from the end. The book starts out as a coming of age story about a young woman, Liberty, and her journey through life, the good and the bad, and her all-encompassing, soul-defining love for her sister. The end becomes a romance story in which Liberty has to decide which man was right for her. The large shift was quite jarring for me as a reader. Although I dislike chick lit/women's fiction, I am a great big sucker for a great coming of age story. I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte last year, and that is probably one of the best I've ever read. I'd also put forward Where The Heart is by Billie Letts, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and of course, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee as my top list of coming of age stories. I loved this aspect of Sugar Daddy. I was transfixed by the story of this young girl, and how her life evolved. Then, all of a sudden, it became about which man would she end up with. One could argue that this was part of her story, and yes, it is. But I felt the focus had shifted from Liberty's journey to explaining which man was right for her, almost a bit of show and tell, to me as a reader. I would have liked to see more of Liberty putting the pieces together and coming to a more organic understanding of the man she belonged with. Also, there seemed to be less focus on Liberty's relationship with Carrington towards the end of the story. It was noticeable, because of how prominent a character Carrington is earlier in the book. It's not that I didn't want to see Liberty have a life and a love outside of her sister, but I thought the tone should have remained consistent. Fundamentally, I was left with the feeling that I didn't know what kind of book Ms. Kleypas was trying to write here.
2)This evolves out of my first issue. I felt that the romance aspects were slightly underdeveloped. In my opinion, more time should have been spent on developing the romance between Gage and Liberty. In my opinion, much more time was spent on the romance (or at least the evolution of Liberty's love for Hardy) between Hardy and Liberty. I could see in a general way, why Gage was right for Liberty, but I really needed more for my heart to accept on a deep level that he was the right choice. Part of this unsureness came from the fact that I think having Hardy betray Liberty was a bit of a cop-out. Yes, we know that Hardy was committed to getting ahead by any means necessary. But it didn't quite ring true for me. Hardy was shown as a very good, honorable person growing up (even if he didn't believe it about himself). Yes, he was a bit of a skirt-chaser, but he stuck with girls who were up for the game. His caring for his family and for Liberty and her family didn't match up with how he acted when he returned to Liberty's life. So I was left feeling that, perhaps Liberty would have chosen Hardy, if he hadn't betrayed her that way. That didn't convince me on the romance between Gage and Liberty. Don't get me wrong. Gage was definitely the right man. Although I didn't get quite as much of a fix on him as I did Hardy, I could see his appeal and why he was the man that Liberty would fall in love with as an adult. But more narrative on him, definitely would have been appreciated.
3)I really disliked the scenes in which Liberty was exploring her sexality with Luke, who was her high school boyfriend, and the guy she dated as an adult before Gage. Now, I will admit that this ties into my dislike of chick-lit. I like to see a romance between two people, the heroine and the hero. I don't want to see them having sex and being involved with other people. If they had other relationships before, then I'd like that to be in the past, and not revealed during the book, other than a couple of lines of exposition, or through something that is revealed in dialogue. I knew that Liberty didn't love those guys, and she was a woman who wanted love. So it felt wrong to me. I especially hated the scene when she lost her virginity. I was really mad at her for that decision, although I could understand the pain that drove her to it. This would have went over better with me, had the women's fiction aspect of the story been continued through to the end, without the shift to a romance. But since the last 1/4 of the book was written as a romance, this left a bad taste in my mouth. I really didn't like the way things unfolded when Hardy returns into her life. The passionate kiss with Hardy felt wrong. Could you do that with an ex if you were deeply in love with a new man? Liberty wasn't the flighty kind of person who would do that. It felt out of character to me. Also the part in which Liberty decides to spend time with Hardy to find out if there was anything there. In my mind, if her feelings for Gage were so strong, would she have felt right doing that, even if he was a good enough man to let her? I don't know the right answer, but it didn't feel right to me. I think this is something that I would expect in a chick lit novel and not a romance.
One aspect of the book that I didn't really love, but I could see why it was done, was the attention to detail on the accoutrements of the upscale life that the Travises and their associates had. I think Ms. Kleypas did a great job of describing this through Liberty's eyes, but I was kind of 'meh' about it. To some degree, those of us who grew up with modest surroundings, do have a wide-eyed awe at what those who 'have' possess. But it is only so interesting. I think I would have preferred more time spent on showing Liberty's emotional interactions with Gage and his family, to a greater degree. Maybe dropping a designer name here and there, and describing things as needed could have sufficed. Perhaps this is unfair of me to comment on this, considering that Ms. Kleypas's phenomenal ability as a writer of beautiful, vivid description, is one of her strong points for me as a reader. I think in this instant, it was too much of a distraction from the emotional focus of this story.
So you may ask, how this book garnered a five star rating. I have to give it five stars, because it's a really good novel. It really affected me emotionally as a reader. And that is one thing that will always have a writer coming out ahead, for me. I found the love story between Liberty and Carrington to be the most beautiful and profound aspect of this story. The scenes in which Liberty takes on this responsibility and shows her love for her sister excelled. I cried numerous times reading this book.
Other reasons I give this book a five star rating: The beginning is excellent. The way in which Ms. Kleypas describes Liberty's life in a small town in Texas really resonated with me. It took me back to my time at this age. Hot, lazy summers, kooky relatives and neighbors. Having a family that wasn't always perfect, but loving them hard and strong, regardless. The awkwardness of being a girl who is in that stage where she feels ugly and invisible. This book could have been about a girl I knew growing up. Maybe a little bit of me, as well. That identification factor was so powerful, that I was sucked in as a reader. I wasn't going anywhere and doing anything until I finished this story.
And then there's Liberty. She's an unforgettable character. She had grit and determination. She had a unique way of looking at the world. She approached situations with the tenacity that I could not help but admire. Her strength was the best kind of strength to me. Not cussing out people or fighting at the drop of the hat, but hanging in there, enduring, doing what had to be done to keep going, and to achieve one's goals. I loved Liberty being that kind of person. And I wanted her to be happy. I cheered when she did get her happy ending. That's what I read this books for, after all.
Also, there are few writers who can create such appealing heroes as Ms. Kleypas. Gage had a magnetism that reached out of the book and slapped me in the face, in a good way, for all the short time he had in this book. Although he was a jerk to Liberty, initially, you could still see his appeal. I wanted more of him. And then there's Hardy. Well, I fell in love with Hardy as a young man. I could see why Liberty loved him so hard and so long. That's why I had some issues with the way he was written when he returned, because he made such an impression on me initially in this book. I know that I definitely have to read Blue-Eyed Devil to get more of him, and to see him become the man he should be, not who he thinks he is.
Well, for all the rambling that I did in this review, I feel that I could not have possibly expressed my feelings for this book with the clarity that I wish I could. It's so hard to unravel something so complex in such a short time for a review. But I feel that I have captured the essence of my feelings about Sugar Daddy. I do have to say a few things to Ms. Kleypas to end this review:
*Thank you for having the courage to write this book. *Thank you for stepping out of the box and pouring your heart into this book. *I'm sorry that I doubted that you could write a contemporary romance with heavy chick-lit leanings that I could enjoy. *Will you please continue to write excellent books that challenge me as a reader, make me cry, and keep me up late at night because I can't bear to put the book down?
Lastly, I say from one huge Lisa Kleypas fan to another: if you have not read Sugar Daddy, read it. I think you will find much of value in this book.(less)
I must say this is the most unusual coming of age story I've ever read. It's also a different twist on vampires, and one of those books where you're n...moreI must say this is the most unusual coming of age story I've ever read. It's also a different twist on vampires, and one of those books where you're never quite sure what actually was going on. This one is pretty gory, but enjoyable. Although the main characters are all kids, this one is not a good book for a very young reader (less than 16 years of age).(less)
Okay I am ducking in advance, expecting a shoe to be thrown at me. I had heard such good things about this book and how great it was. It was a good bo...moreOkay I am ducking in advance, expecting a shoe to be thrown at me. I had heard such good things about this book and how great it was. It was a good book, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't as profound as people led me to think it was. I liked the voice of the protagonist. He was fearless in the things he thought, did, and said. He was searching, and didn't find by the end of the book, but he was okay with who he was. I thought that was cool. However this book didn't change my life or give me the key to meaning. But it was a good way to fill some hours out of my life. As far as coming of age books, I think To Kill a Mockingbird is much better.(less)
Z for Zachariah was a very suspenseful book. From the moment I started it, I had a knot in my stomach. For most of my life, I lived with my fear of nu...moreZ for Zachariah was a very suspenseful book. From the moment I started it, I had a knot in my stomach. For most of my life, I lived with my fear of nuclear war and its aftermath. As a child of the 80s, I remember that Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. Were the Soviets going to push the button, or the Americans? Either way, we'd both lose. I remember everyone in school was watching "The Day After Tomorrow," and I was afraid to watch it, but I heard all the ugly details. I inadvertently watched the other nuclear war movie, "Testament," and I still remember how utterly hopeless and depressing it was. I didn't want to die slowly and painfully from radiation poison, nor did I want to be instantly incinerated in the first blast, or have to survive a nuclear winter. It was a very ugly thought that I've tried to push way to the back of my mind. Well, this book brought it all back for me. So, I could deeply sympathize with Ann, the protagonist of this story.
And it turns out that her worst threat is not the aftermath of the nuclear war. It's the fact that the only other apparent survivor of the holocaust is dangerously insane. Ann showed a lot of fortitude and intelligence, in my opinion. I didn't really consider her overly naive, considering she grew up in a sheltered world. I think she did an admirable job of keeping herself alive. How on earth could she be prepared to do deal with a crazy man who decided that everything left in the world belonged to him, and was not hesitant about using violence or ugly methods to make sure it remained in his possession? It was a tough road to travel for this young woman. She had a choice to let this man succumb to radiation poisoning, or to nurse him through it, even knowing he was possibly a murderer. She did what she thought was right, although that action contributed to the destruction of her small, safe world. I appreciate the ethical dilemma that the author presents in this story. Do we abandon all the qualities that make humanity worthwhile, because the civilized world as we know it has gone away? Should we embrace violence as the best solution, because it's the most expedient one? These are all very pertinent issues to Ann in this book, and I had to work through them as I read.
I was literally on the edge of my seat, as I saw how things were unfolding. I felt a rage at Mr. Loomis, who came to Ann's valley, availed himself of her generosity and good heart, and decided that he was entitled to all of it, and he could take control of everything. Oh, I definitely understand that battle that Ann faced. People controlling others is a real problem for me. I felt her pain as she decided that she would have to leave everything was familiar and she'd worked hard for, because she refused to be enslaved to another person, not for any reason.
I found Z for Zachariah to be a powerful read. It did resonate with me, and that wasn't always a comfortable feeling. The issues of isolation, fear for the future, defining who one is when the world is no longer the same, and having control of one's life and destiny were very well-handled here. I think Ann could be a metaphor for any young woman who is facing choices in her life that will define her present and future. I would recommend this book to young adults and to adults, because it has a very timely message, and it was good, albeit nerve-racking at times, entertainment. Also, readers who enjoy stories in which the characters have to use their wits and energies (physical and mental) to survive on the land, and in a hostile environment, will enjoy this story. I'm very glad I got the opportunity to read Z for Zachariah.(less)
At times, I believe that humanity is doomed to destroy itself. Actually, I feel that way a lot, although it saddens me. Which is why I prefer reading...moreAt times, I believe that humanity is doomed to destroy itself. Actually, I feel that way a lot, although it saddens me. Which is why I prefer reading fiction that is hopeful, or with humans triumphing over the destructive forces within them or around them. Tales in which the monster of the story is a fantastical beast of the inhuman variety, defeatable, even if it requires cost and sacrifice on the part of people.
I couldn’t even imagine living in a world in which every night, demons take over, and prey on humans. Fear becomes the primary motivation. One’s life is lived around the rising and setting of the sun. The only thing that protects humans from the demons is the wards, which must be assiduously maintained. That is the existence of the characters in this book, and it affects them all in different ways. Surprisingly, despite this ever-present menace, people still manage to have their own little dramas, squabbles, and tendencies to treat each other poorly. You would think that human spirit would triumph in these dark circumstances? Not so much. Or maybe it does. You’d have to stay tuned to see.
The Warded Man focuses on three main characters: Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer. Both Arlen and Rojer lost their mothers to the demons, their lives and futures shaped by these ugly experiences. Leesha’s mother is like her own personal monster. She’s harsh, cruel, amoral, selfish, and scheming. Leesha has vowed to be nothing like her. She finds a calling as the apprentice to the Herb Gatherer (the healer of all diseases and wounds) in her town, a way to find meaning in her life, other than being wife to the man who told lies on her and ruined her trust and her reputation along with it. Her decision to work with Bruna, the ancient Herb Gatherer for her little town, will lead her onto a path that intercepts with Arlen and Rojer’s path, and it won’t be an easy journey for any of these three people.
Although this story started out slow, and I was dismayed at depictions of human nature at its worst, ultimately I was vanquished by this engrossing story. It was a slow conquest initially. I found myself wanting to keep reading, and after a while, I couldn’t stop reading. The demons were very scary, and their attacks on the humans downright horrific. The sense of entrapment, fear, and the lack of options in the face of a supernatural threat that seems unbeatable really got to me. I wanted to see someone find an answer. I wanted someone to step forward and to find a way to prevail against the demons.
People have been waiting for the Deliverer to come back to protect them from the demons. Will the Deliverer come, or will the people have to save themselves? This story might be about demons on the surface, but deep down, the real theme of The Warded Man is the everyday sort of courage. The courage that keeps a person going without losing hope, and giving in to the darkness. A very important lesson that this book taught me is that the hero is within you. You can’t always wait on someone else to save you. You have to save yourself. And once you’re ready to do that, you might find that you can help others to do the same for themselves and for those who are in need of help and who truly are incapable of fighting for themselves.
This could have easily been a loss for me had the story been written differently. Bloodthirsty demons preying and always destroying people, seeing the good guys never win, doomed to continually destroy themselves and each other, and unable to triumph over the obstacles that they fight against, has no appeal to me. But seeing people fight back, taking back the night and renouncing the power that fear can hold over a person, now that interests me.
And I have to admit, the Warded Man was absolutely cool as all get out. He was a total bad*ss, a man who created himself from scratch, and wears the scars to show for it. Together with Leesha, and Rojer, they make an awesome team. If I ever had to fight demons, I will call them in for my reinforcements. They are my kind of demon hunters. This story inspires me to fight my own demons in my everyday life. And that’s the kind of hopeful message I need right now.
Bonechiller was a quick, but satisfying read. Our protagonist is a young man who is still dealing with the death of his mother from brain cancer. He w...moreBonechiller was a quick, but satisfying read. Our protagonist is a young man who is still dealing with the death of his mother from brain cancer. He was very close to her, and her death has sent him and his father on the run, from place to place, to escape the grief of her passing. Lately they have landed in an small town in Canada, in the deep of arctic winter. He befriends fellow travelers, military brats, Pike, Howie, and Ash. Pike and Howie are two brothers named after weapons (Howie being short for Howlitzer), and Ash is a half-Ojibwa girl who is a boxer, and Danny's crush. Danny's just taking it day to day, enduring the extreme cold, and the weight of grief that is almost too much to carry. Soon, he will face a creature from his worst nightmares, a monster who marks him for a future meal.
That's when things start to get weird. What kind of monster is stalking Danny? We don't really find out. All that we know is that he's ancient, preying on many, many teens over the years. He stings them, injecting them with a venom that changes them, making them cold from the inside out, and allowing it to penetrate their dreams, until they give up and come to him, to be devoured. Danny thinks he's all alone in what he has seen and survived, until the monster attacks his friend Howie. Howie is the brains in his family. He investigates to find out what they are facing, and how to destroy it. I liked the surreality of the dreams that Danny and Howie must wade through, and escape, to prevent the monster from taking them, as it had countless others. But time is running out.
I thought this was a very good book. I liked how short and brisk the writing style was. It conveyed much, with an economy of words. McNamee managed to make this story both supernatural/monster horror, and a coming of age story about a boy who watched his mother succumb to a brain tumor. When I read these young adult books, I always appreciate the strength of young people to deal with what seems like far too much on their young plates. In this case, Danny suffered through the death of his mother, and her drawn out illness from the cancer treatments; and now he has to deal with the fact that a monster is changing him into a popsicle so that it can eat him. That seems like a double whammy to me.
I liked the portrayal of friendship between the quartet, and the growing romantic relationship between Danny and Ash. Ash is a tomboy, through and through. She boxes, goes hunting and fishing, and knows guns better than Danny. He freely admits she can kick his butt, and he thinks it's sexy. I loved that Danny appreciated Ash for what she was, and vice versa. Pike was an interesting character--very gun and ordnance crazy. He liked to set things on fire, shoot them, or blow them up. His talents come in handy when they face off with the monster. I liked how Howie was the resident geek/genius. His research skills prove invaluable. The friendship that these four teens shared spoke to me. They accepted each other for who they were, and united to face the threat that two of them faced.
The fifth important character (besides the monster), is the arctic Canadian wilderness. Below zero temperatures and extended dark hours every day is no joke, and it made for fascinating reading to see how people faced this kind of environment and went about their daily lives. No snow days for them.
All the pieces of this story come together to form a successful whole with Bonechiller. It was a unique idea and it was well-executed. I still have some questions about the nature of the monster, but we don't always get all the answers in life. It was good enough to watch these brave teens face and conquer this threat, and to see Danny (and also his dad) start on the road to emotional healing from his mother's passing.(less)
This was a book where patience proves to be a virtue. It started very slowly, with an almost tedious amount of detail. As I continued to read, it star...moreThis was a book where patience proves to be a virtue. It started very slowly, with an almost tedious amount of detail. As I continued to read, it started to make sense.
This is a book about the battle between two opposing forces: chaos and order. The tedious amount of detail really ties into this story, for it defined the foundation of Recluce. Recluce is a city of almost pure order. Everything is so perfect and ordered that it is perceived as being boring to our hero, Lerris. Any persons who compromise that order are exiled. Our hero is such a person. But, like any good heroic fantasy, this reluctant, unlikely hero does save the day.
Lerris was a bit annoying at first, like one of those eternally bored youngsters that made my life miserable when I taught. I don't think I've ever seen the word 'boring' so much in my life. When I was a kid, I was not allowed to be 'bored', so I don't have much patience for people who go through life bored with everything. Fortunately, I came to see how this plays a role in the story. Lerris is looking for answers. He's like the kid who always asks 'why' about everything, wanted to be told instead of finding out the answers for himself. His exile from Recluce turns out to be the making of him. He finds a strength and a purpose over the course of this novel that can only be gained the hard way, through action and practice.
At first, I didn't think Mr. Modesitt's style of writing was going to work for me, but then I began to appreciate it. His attention to detail is very important to the narrative. I especially liked his descriptions of woodworking. I am not very good with my hands, despite being a decent artist and gardener. I do respect those who can build functional things with their hands. Lerris's approach to woodworking--initially one of boredom and disinterest, which changed to one of intense focus and commitment to perfection--was a metaphor for his maturation from boy to man. He has a hard, often lonely road ahead of him in this novel. Seeing that slow, often painful growth made me come to love him as a hero. He showed that his heart was in the right place, although he seemed so disinterested and self-absorbed initially.
The magic system was very interesting. It turned a a big thing on its head as far as conventions: the black wizards are the good wizards, and the white wizards are the evil wizards. That was an unique twist that I liked. I was surprised that I figured out some of how the chaos versus order dynamic worked. I was putting the pieces together along with Lerris. I liked how the order in persons and things were manipulated by Lerris and his eventual mentor, gray (mostly black but a little white) wizard, Justen. That was their power as order-masters. And it wasn't just a matter of creating things to solve problems. If done wrongly or for the wrong motives, this could become an act of chaos. Lerris had to continually weigh his actions to make sure he wasn't doing that. As I read, I wondered what could and couldn't be done and stay on the side of order.
Although this story is focused on Lerris, there are some interesting secondary characters, and quite a lot of strong, well-developed women characters. I liked that the women were in powerful roles, often serving in the military and as soldiers. Krystal turned out to be a good character, showing her own evolution in character for the best. And I loved Lerris trusty mountain pony, Gairloch. He's quite the boon companion.
I am the risk of being long-winded, so I'll bring this review to a close. This was a very good book. I'm glad I hung in there and kept reading past the slow beginning, and that I paid attention. Mr. Modesitt lays a powerful foundation for this story, and everything ties in together. I appreciate being recommended this story by a fellow Goodreads friend. I will definitely continue reading this series. Recommended to readers who like an intricate fantasy story. (less)
For this pleasure reader, there wasn't much pleasure in reading this book. Even still, I was compelled and drawn in. Octavia Butler was a very good wr...moreFor this pleasure reader, there wasn't much pleasure in reading this book. Even still, I was compelled and drawn in. Octavia Butler was a very good writer, and I am glad I did get a chance to finally read one of her books. The narrator, the actress Lynne Thigpen, did an incredible job. Now, when I think of Lauren, I will picture her voice, feminine but strong and rich. I also liked the way she varied her voice to reflect the different characters speaking.
Lauren was a protagonist that rubbed me the wrong way at times (as she did those who knew her in this book). And yet, her strength and the powerful humanity of her won me over. I love reading about strong women, and that is definitely Lauren. For her young age, what she accomplished, despite the odds, must be recognized. She is a true leader, and she is the kind you want to follow, because they ask no more of you than they demand of themselves. I loved the way she brought a small group of survivors together, empowering them, and encouraging them to protect each other and themselves.
The world was bleak, depressing, disturbing, disheartening. Any joy was fleeting, any laughs and 'happy' moments as I listened were greatly appreciated. Hearing of the atrocities that were normal in this post-apocalyptic California setting was not an easy thing for me. At times, I had to remind myself that it wasn't truly the reality (although the way thing are going, this story seems like prophecy). When I got out of my car, I had to pull back out of this book and get back to my normal reality. And I am grateful that this was just a book, even though my senses didn't seem to accept that at times. This book has a powerful message in it that is very timely. The society that we know and love is on the brink, and if we don't stand up, we might find ourselves working as wage slaves, having police and government who hurt us more than they protect us. Politics are not something I go on about in reviews, but this is something that struck me as real about this story, so I have to talk about that in this review. This scary message definitely gets me thinking, and hoping that the United States doesn't end up like this. Not destroyed by some catastrophic event that you might usually find precipitating societal collapse, but chipped away and slowly eroded into a horrible future like a nightmarish dream. More scary because it is so very plausible.
I have to say that I liked that Lauren founded a spiritual movement that kept her small band of compadres together. But, on the other hand, I deeply disagreed with the mantra that "God is change." I was taught (and believe) that God is the same today, yesterday, and forever. My mind and heart won't accept that God is malleable and that we shape God. I can understand that Lauren is about empowering and allowing oneself to be shaped, and to shape back by the forces around them; to survive no matter what, to grow stronger. I just don't think that we have to make God into some concept that is far from the truth to feel strong. In my mind, what I believe is that God is our rock--although we are buffeted by the harsh things we suffer, we can stand on His never-changing promises. Anyway, I don't mean to preach in this review, I am just saying what I feel about the Earthseed religion that Lauren founded. If I was in this story, I would be on board with her mission of creating a home and a community, but I could never accept her concept of God as change. I am glad that she found strength in it and was able to inspire her friends and companions though.
One other thing that I liked about this story is that more than half of the main characters are non-Causcasian. Not that I don't like reading about white characters. I am totally fine reading about any character of any ethnicity. However, it is good to see a main character who is black, who embodies many traits that I love and respect in a protagonist. To see people of color finding their way through some horrible circumstances, seeing the strength from within that compels them forward. Diversity is important to me, and I loved that Lauren's band was diverse, ethnically. And for all their diversity, they were a found family, helping, standing for and with each other, protecting their unit against all threats.
This is not the kind of book I will read often, because I like to read stories that take my mind off the ugliness of life, and that empower me by giving me hope and enjoyment. There is both empowerment, and a tentative hope in this story. But it's a long, hard journey to reap the harvest of those kernels, those small seeds, in my consciousness. Ms. Butler did such a good job of sowing that seed in the tough, unfertile ground of this story, and for that I commend her.
When I eat my Wheaties, I will try more of her stories.(less)
I loved, loved, loved this book! This is the kind of book that I wish I could find more of. I think it was a wonderful fix of humor, horror, suspense,...moreI loved, loved, loved this book! This is the kind of book that I wish I could find more of. I think it was a wonderful fix of humor, horror, suspense, angst, and a great coming of age story. I didn't think that I would appreciate a story with Hansel and Gretel thrown into other fairy tales, nor could their story sustain a full-length novel. I was wrong on both counts. Hansel and Gretel became very dear to my hearts. They started out as little children who were doing what little children did. Living their lives, having fun, basking in the love of their parents and caregivers. Until circumstances cause them to embark out into the cold, cruel, scary world.
Adam Gidwitz doesn't go easy on Hansel and Gretel, nor does he go easy on the reader. There are some very violent, disturbing aspects in this story. For that reason, I disagree with the 9 and older rating. I would say it should be 11 and older. I realize that he is true to the original Grimm's fairy tales, and I know I did read fairy tales at a younger age. So maybe some kids would be fine with it. As a grown up, I winced on some parts myself.
I loved the aspect of the narrator breaching the third wall and talking to the audience as he read. He would warn us to send the little kids to bed or to get the babysitter. He would warn the reader that some very bloody parts were coming, and good thing he did. He would encourage the reader through the very sad parts (and they were very sad). He would make hilarious asides that had me braying with laughter in my car as I listened. My sister told me I was silly when I laughed at some parts yesterday. But it was so funny! This is a truly fun book, guys! And Johnny Heller, the narrator, did such a great job of creating a lively atmosphere for this story. Kudos to him!
A Tale Dark and Grimm is a story of courage. It's a novel that shows that children have depths of endurance, ingenuity and strength that adults often dismiss. I'm not saying that every child could survive what Hansel and Gretel endure, but I think about what kids go through every day, and this message resonated with me. It's also a cautionary tale to parents. Parents need to consider carefully what it means to be a parent, and how much they cherish their children. Are children a means to an end, a possession, or are they worth their weight in gold? I'll leave that to people with kids to decide, although I have my own opinions on that.
My verdict on this book is as follows: Read it! If you like fairy tales, you definitely need to read it. If you see this on audio at your library, pick it up, just for fun. Although some parts are pretty tough, this was a very entertaining and often moving story. I borrowed this from my library, but I definitely want to get my own copy to add to my keeper shelf, preferably with my fairy tale collection.