Haunting, imaginative—this spell-binding book is the second in the Mortal Instruments trilogy. Clary and Jace discover they are siblings, causing themHaunting, imaginative—this spell-binding book is the second in the Mortal Instruments trilogy. Clary and Jace discover they are siblings, causing them to shelve the strong attraction they feel for each other. Here they battle their father, Valentine, who has stolen the Mortal Instruments to wage war against the Institute with an army of demons. While I enjoyed Clare’s imagination and like the idea of the Downworlders (werewolves, vampires and faeries) being multi-faceted and not necessarily evil), the battle scenes with the demons were a bit much—lots of ickey gore and dripping blood. I read the first book of the trilogy a year or so ago and will probably wait a while to tackle the third one....more
This was a fantastic, magical read. It’s a little bit of everything—a morality tale, a love story, a mystery. a story of differences and commonalitiesThis was a fantastic, magical read. It’s a little bit of everything—a morality tale, a love story, a mystery. a story of differences and commonalities, a story about the meaning of life and what it means to be human. At the turn of 20th century New York City, two beings discover each other and are drawn together because of their ‘otherness.’ Chava is a Golem, a woman made of clay who has recently been brought to life. And Ahmad is a Jinni, a creature made of fire recently released from a flask where he had been trapped by a wizard for hundreds of years.
Wecker builds her novel with suspense as you wonder what will happen to these surreal creatures who don’t fit into normal society but must find their own way. They struggle for survival in a world that is unnatural to them, and also against their own natures. Read metaphorically, they represent many of the same feelings that confront each of us as we face the uncertainties of life. This is an insightful book—quite remarkable for a debut novel. ...more
Imagine a world where all of the beings from Celtic folklore, Faeries, Shades and Sirens, etc. are real and making life a much more dangerous and unprImagine a world where all of the beings from Celtic folklore, Faeries, Shades and Sirens, etc. are real and making life a much more dangerous and unpredictable place for humans. The Dublin (of the not too distant future) depicted in this tale is such a place. Trying her best to combat evil wherever she finds it is fourteen year-old Dani “Mega” O’Malley. Dani wields an ancient weapon, the Sword of Light, which allows her to dispatch any evil Fae she encounters. She is also something of a Supergirl with superior senses and the ability to move with extraordinary speed which Dani calls freeze-framing. In this novel she teams up with an unlikely group of allies to figure out what is flash freezing parts of Dublin and stop it before things get much worse.
This is definitely a work with both pluses and minuses. Dani can be precocious and funny, but too often she seemed to have little real concern for the less gifted humans around her and she has almost no interaction with them. Overall I think ICED feels like graphic fiction without the graphics, there are some good bits here, but there is also lots of room for improvement. ...more
This was a surprising read. At the beginning it appeared to be a story of teenagers with no structure in their lives, emerged in a life of drugs, sexThis was a surprising read. At the beginning it appeared to be a story of teenagers with no structure in their lives, emerged in a life of drugs, sex and rock and roll. But then I began to see the characters metaphorically and the story took on a new and deeper meaning. The darker characters personify the abhorrence of drugs and alcoholism that entraps the narrator’s best friend. It’s also a book about love and loss, and about resilience. Through the unnamed narrator’s bravery, selfless love and perseverance, she is given life and hope and a future. The book has many religious overtones and symbolism. To quote 1 Corinthians 13:13: “For now there are faith, hope and love”. But of these three, the greatest is love.” ...more
Now that it’s a major motion picture, I finally got around to reading this classic tale. It and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy are some of my husband’sNow that it’s a major motion picture, I finally got around to reading this classic tale. It and the Lord Of The Rings trilogy are some of my husband’s favorite books. What I liked best about Bilbo, was his willingness to put his trust in others and go off on an adventure even though he would have preferred to stay in his little hobbit house and eat his many breakfasts in peace. It’s a lovely story with all the good guy vs. bad guy elements of a proper adventure tale. I look forward to seeing the film....more
Morgensteen’s novel is an ode to the magic of books and how they transport us to other worlds. She uses the motif of a circus to draw us in, believin Morgensteen’s novel is an ode to the magic of books and how they transport us to other worlds. She uses the motif of a circus to draw us in, believing the unbelievable. As one of the master magicians Mr. A. H. reminds Widget, his gift of telling stories is important—he can shape the future and move people—“there are many kinds of magic.” I was totally absorbed in the fascinating, bewitching world of “The Night Circus,” and am happy to have the opportunity to visit the circus again every time I open the pages of this book. As the clockmaker turned journalist Frederick Thiessen said, “I find I think of myself not as a writer as much as someone who provides a gateway, a tangential route for readers to reach the circus. To visit the circus again, if only in their minds….—(p.489) ...more
This is not the kind of book I usually read, but I found myself totally caught up in the fantasy world of warlocks, witches, werewolves and the like.This is not the kind of book I usually read, but I found myself totally caught up in the fantasy world of warlocks, witches, werewolves and the like. The teenaged heroine Clary, is particularly brave and spunky as she meets the Shadowhunters and learns the truth about herself. This is the first book of a trilogy—I will definitely read the others, but not right away. I want to wait until I’m tempted to shed the veil of disbelief and enter Clary’s magical world again—it’s great entertainment! ...more
An imaginative children’s picture book about a brother and sister who play a board game they found in a park and get more than they bargained for. WinAn imaginative children’s picture book about a brother and sister who play a board game they found in a park and get more than they bargained for. Winner of the Caldecott Medal. Great illustrations!...more
Have been planning to read this--figured Halloween was a good time.
*** I’ve seen dozens of vampire movies based on this classic character—dramatic, cHave been planning to read this--figured Halloween was a good time.
*** ½ I’ve seen dozens of vampire movies based on this classic character—dramatic, campy, romantic and horrific, so am happy to have finally read the original version. My copy is annotated, which was quite helpful in identifying places and old English words and phrases. For example, I don’t think I would have figured out otherwise that dusty miller means sandman, a fly is a one-horse carriage, and the Old Man refers to the Devil.
The story begins with Jonathan Harker’s journal and Stoker sets the ominous scene of Harker’s trip to meet Count Dracula with the expected atmosphere of howling dogs and wolves, frightened villagers, a mysterious driver with bright eyes, very red lips, sharp-looking teeth, and hands as cold as ice. Stoker’s Victorian attitude toward women is interesting. All of the male characters show polite reverence to Mina Murray Harker, seeing themselves as her protector, but I think she was probably as strong or stronger than any of them. I also found it interesting that each in turn donates his blood to Lucy, Dracula’s victim, so Dr. Seward can transfuse her (with no regard to blood type maybe that’s what killed her???) Quincey questions Seward about what’s going on— if Lucy has had the blood of four strong men put in her—who’s taking it out? Who indeed! It’s a good story that has stood the test of time in all of its many variations. ...more
This is another young person’s book that I enjoyed reading as an adult. A young boy named Bastian enters a magical bookstore where he discovers an advThis is another young person’s book that I enjoyed reading as an adult. A young boy named Bastian enters a magical bookstore where he discovers an adventure between the covers of a book that incorporates him into the story. Of course, I personally think most books are magical as they take us to places outside ourselves, and this one, of a story within a story, is wonderful for kids and adults alike....more
Although I was fascinated with vampire movies in my younger days, especially the campier ones, I’ve not read the Twilight series, set here in Washing Although I was fascinated with vampire movies in my younger days, especially the campier ones, I’ve not read the Twilight series, set here in Washington State, or any of the other vampire books that seem to be quite popular these days. What attracted me to this book wasn’t the vampire, but that it’s an epistolary novel and it’s a big fat historical fiction, my favorite genre. The central character of Vlad the Impaler, was a real person—Prince of Wallachia (1431-1476) and believed to have inspired Count Dracula in Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula.” He was a blood-thirsty tyrant and in many ways more horrific than the worst of the fictional vampires. Kostova creates a frightening thriller with him as the villain. It’s interesting that instead of being attracted to pretty young maidens, this Dracula goes for scribes, archivists, librarians, historians—anyone who handles the past through books. Who doesn’t like a Dracula with a library??
One thing I love about good historical fiction is all the stuff you learn while being entertained by an exciting story at the same time. Some interesting things I remember from this book are:
The winged lion is the symbol for St. Mark, patron saint of Venice. If the book he holds in his paws is open, the statue or relief was carved when Venice was at peace, if closed, Venice was at war.
The croissant was the tribute of a Parisian pastry chef to Vienna’s victory over the Ottomans—representing the crescent moon of the Ottoman flags.
In Byzantine churches, Christ is always at the center looking down.
Vlad the Impaler was one of the first military strategists to use germ warfare. He would send people who were sick with the plague into the Ottoman camps disguised as Turks. They would infect as many people as possible before dying.
Bulgarians shake their heads in agreement and nod in disagreement.
The gaida, a kind of bagpipe, is an ancient instrument in Bulgaria. There is a bagpipe in every herding culture in the world.
This is a long book, sometimes confusing (the heroine is never given a name but always referred to as ‘she,’ but definitely a good read. It’s one of those books you can ‘sink your teeth into’ (pun intended). ...more
I guess this book is directed toward children, but have to admit the ‘kid’ in me loves it. It’s based on the fictional pirate, Captain William Lubber I guess this book is directed toward children, but have to admit the ‘kid’ in me loves it. It’s based on the fictional pirate, Captain William Lubber and is chock full of interactive bits of information from his personal journals, newspaper articles, advertisements, maps, and navigational charts. For all pirate aficionados there are foldouts on pirate customs, articles, and piratical terms as well as pirate history, jewels and gold coins and a built in compass in the cover. I’m well prepared now for Seattle’s Seafair next summer when the madmen with swords come ashore, and where every chanty-singing salty dog in town participates in Talk Like a Pirate Day! ...more
Isn’t modern technology wonderful? Not only can we communicate with people from around the world (i.e. Goodreads), but in Bantock’s book, we can commuIsn’t modern technology wonderful? Not only can we communicate with people from around the world (i.e. Goodreads), but in Bantock’s book, we can communicate with people who lived 500 years ago—all by electrical current. Here, using his exquisite artwork focusing on Hindu gods and goddesses, Bantock again enchants when he joins together Sara, a museum conservator, and the ghost of Niccoli Dei Conti, a 15th century merchant and world traveler, in a search to find the final five pieces of his family’s collection of Asian art. They communicate via e-mail and her personal computer diary. This is both a ghost story and a love story, and is again an example of Bantock’s creative energy gone wild. It’s clever to the point of being almost believable, and visually—a real treat!
This, the final book of the trilogy, leaves the reader still in a quandary about the mystery of the two correspondents, with the conclusion implied. AThis, the final book of the trilogy, leaves the reader still in a quandary about the mystery of the two correspondents, with the conclusion implied. A new letter-writing character is introduced—Victor Frolatti, apparently a doctor of some sort who’s interested in Griffin & Sabine's one-way visual telepathy. His curiosity frightens Sabine and is the impetus to their finding a resolution to their living in parallel universes. Bantock’s imagination takes one into the realm of the impossible—weird and wonderful.
The mystery continues in this, Bantock’s 2nd book. Griffin, confused by fears of his own sanity, leaves a note for Sabine, (just in case she’s real).The mystery continues in this, Bantock’s 2nd book. Griffin, confused by fears of his own sanity, leaves a note for Sabine, (just in case she’s real). Sabine agrees to wait for him in his studio while he tours the world, with some interesting coincidences in their experiences. For example when he writes from Egypt, she writes that she’s been painting in the Egyptian room of the National Art Gallery. The reader still isn’t sure if she’s real or not, but it’s beginning to look more and more like she’s his artistic muse.
As in the first book, the format of the book is a combination of art and letters and thoroughly delightful. I first read it back in 1993. ...more
Reading the Guernsey book composed entirely of letters motivated me to dig out Nick Bantocks’ books and reread them. I first read this one back in 199Reading the Guernsey book composed entirely of letters motivated me to dig out Nick Bantocks’ books and reread them. I first read this one back in 1993. I was introduced to Bantock’s unique style of combining art and letters to tell a story back in the early 90s when I met him at our local independent book store. In this, his first book, Sabine tracks down Griffin because of her interest in his artistic postcards which she telepathically watches him create. As they correspond, a love affair by letter gradually ensues. However, there is a mystical quality to both the art and the story as it evolves. Is she real? Or is she his artistic muse?
The format of the book is great—sort of an interactive book for adults with some of the letters contained in envelopes you open to read. Bantock’s art is a combination of paintings and collage. It was a real pleasure to revisit this book—I intend to reread all of them. ...more
It took me a while to read this book, but not because I didn’t find it interesting. I was distracted by my first cross-country train trip from SeattleIt took me a while to read this book, but not because I didn’t find it interesting. I was distracted by my first cross-country train trip from Seattle to Chicago—doesn’t everyone go to Chicago in February? Anyway, the book itself is delicious—an historical thriller of two parallel stories set eight hundred years apart that merge in and out from each other around the motif of the Holy Grail, or, the quest for eternal life. Half of Mosse’s story is set back in the 13th century during the brutal persecutions of the Crusades, in this case, the religious sect known as Cathars are the ones being persecuted. The modern part of her story concerns Alice, a young woman who tags along on her archeologist friend’s dig in France as a volunteer, and finds herself mystically drawn to events that unfold there when she discovers two skeletons buried in a cave. The past reaches out to claim her whether she wants it to or not.
What I found most intriguing in this tale was the ambiguity of time, which can have many meanings. Mosse attributes the incredibly long lives of some of her fictional characters to the same magical elements that perhaps led to the lengthy lives of Biblical prophets like Abraham and Methuselah who were given long lives so they could speak of what they had witnessed. Time is relative. I love the explanation given to Alice by the character Audric who tells her to think about the quality of life of the beautiful butterfly that only lives “for one human day.” (I checked this out and some can live up to 10 days, but the idea is the same—I’m giving Audric a little poetic license here).
Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and when it’s well done it gives one much to think about. I loved learning about the stained glass windows in the Chartres Cathedral; that the labyrinth is a pre-Christian symbol dating back to 1550 BC and that there are more ancient labyrinths in France than the rest of Europe all together; that the word hieroglyph means divine speech; that the Swastika is an ancient Hindu symbol of rebirth—I could go on and on. . . However, having just finished “Holy Fools” before I read this book, I think I’ve been spending too much time in the dark ages recently. I find this period of history interesting and intriguing, but I need a change; I’m choosing something light and funny for my next read. ...more
My first thought after finishing this book is to encourage readers not to give up on it—it only gets better. Mitchell has created a novel using five dMy first thought after finishing this book is to encourage readers not to give up on it—it only gets better. Mitchell has created a novel using five diverse literary genres. He begins in the epistolary style with an historical fiction tale set in the 19th century, continues in the epistolary style when he takes us to the year 1931, then a thriller involving corruption at a nuclear power plant. The next section is sort of a comical mystery, followed by pure science fiction that merges into a kind of post-apocolyptic adventure story.
Sound confusing? Believe me it’s not. Mitchell cleverly connects each of the sections using various devices such as found manuscripts, a composition and a movie. There’s also a kind of reincarnation thing going on with characters from different generations bearing similar birthmarks.
In the final five sections Mitchell reverses the literary genres to conclude his novel. Each story is sort of a morality tale dealing with good versus evil and demonstrates that power corrupts. His initial character, Adam Ewing ends with the philosophical statement that his father-in-law will probably mock his decision to pledge himself to the Abolitionist cause saying his life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean: “Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” It’s definitely one of the most imaginative and carefully constructed books I’ve read in a long time.
Oh yes, one more thing—the oxymoron of a title is perfect: Cloud—something that obscures. Atlas—a bound volume of charts, plates, or tables illustrating any subject. ...more
Want to re-read this classic before the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton film comes out.
What fun!—going on an adventure with Alice where Lewis Carroll takes plaWant to re-read this classic before the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton film comes out.
What fun!—going on an adventure with Alice where Lewis Carroll takes playing cards and chess pieces and turns them into images to ignite a child’s imagination. I had forgotten how much Carroll relied on rhyme, remembering only “Jabberwocky” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” I’d also forgotten that Humpty Dumpty plays a part in the story and love the part where he explains to Alice what the strange words in “Jabberwocky” mean. I’m excited to see the parts of this fantastic tale that Tim Burton chooses to portray in his film—plan to see it in 3-D at the IMAX theatre in Seattle. I think it’s opening in March.
This is a novel that makes you thinkI It centers around a 14 year old Norwegian girl who communicates with a mysterious philosopher who teaches her (aThis is a novel that makes you thinkI It centers around a 14 year old Norwegian girl who communicates with a mysterious philosopher who teaches her (and the reader) about the history of philosophy. I know I learned a lot more about philosophy than I used to know—mainly to always ask questions and never jump to conclusions. Reality is what we perceive it to be. ...more
This book has its moments but it really wasn’t my cup of tea. I was turned off at the beginning by the gross, crude language—I had to read over half tThis book has its moments but it really wasn’t my cup of tea. I was turned off at the beginning by the gross, crude language—I had to read over half the book before I became interested in Shadow, the main character. I felt the story was too convoluted, the characters too fantastical, the plot too scattered—reading it was sort of like working a huge jigsaw puzzle and discovering some of the pieces are missing. I was disappointed because after reading the reviews, I expected more—don’t think I’ll be reading Gaiman again any time soon....more
I loved it, which is interesting since I’m not a big fan of fantasy but prefer books with more character development. I usually get lost in all the maI loved it, which is interesting since I’m not a big fan of fantasy but prefer books with more character development. I usually get lost in all the made up names and places. However, keeping notes on this book as I read really helped and I loved the humor. Maguire is to be congratulated on a very clever conceit—retelling a classic from another perspective....more
**spoiler alert** Though slightly baffled when I first began reading it, this book held me with its beauty and strangeness. It is a metaphor for love,**spoiler alert** Though slightly baffled when I first began reading it, this book held me with its beauty and strangeness. It is a metaphor for love, longing, possibility and patience. I love the author’s imagination and how she makes the reader believe in the possibility of her story. Henry is a strange character, almost saint-like in his love for his family. And yet he is also amoral in his necessity to lie and steal when he time travels in order to survive. The book also hints at immorality when it positions a young six year old girl alone in the woods with a naked man, yet it never crosses the line. Henry is pure. Clare’s infidelity with Gomez is somewhat difficult to understand. Also, her willingness to live in a stressful relationship with a man who disappears. Though she is grounded as a normal human, her behavior is more unbelievable in a way than Henry’s. After Henry dies and she neglects her art, then sketches a self-portrait which she pierces so the light will come through, it’s as though she is renouncing her mortality—wanting to be like her husband and daughter. I think perhaps Niffenegger has a sequel to this book in mind for Alba. I didn’t want the book to end, so if she decides to carry her tale on, I’ll be happy....more
I stayed up late to finish this book. It’s about a young girl who’s raped and murdered and who observes her family’s life on Earth from Heaven. I fou I stayed up late to finish this book. It’s about a young girl who’s raped and murdered and who observes her family’s life on Earth from Heaven. I found the idea unique—the only part that lost me was when she inhabits her friend’s body so she can make love with the boy who gave her her first kiss. I liked the fact that she watched her friends and loved ones with no regret or jealousy that they were participating in a life that she no longer was a part of. With her death comes an amazing maturity of selflessness, which is maybe what heaven is all about. That she suffered an unthinkable murder to get there is almost irrelevant, other than the fact she is able to exact revenge on her murderer at the end by killing him with an icicle—the perfect crime because the murder weapon melts away. This is the author’s first book. Sebold herself survived a brutal rape when she was a freshman at Syracuse University. ...more
I think the book is a good read at the beginning that sustains itself about halfway through and then the pace slows to the point where it becomes tireI think the book is a good read at the beginning that sustains itself about halfway through and then the pace slows to the point where it becomes tiresome—too many characters and too many strange names. ...more