**spoiler alert** Following in the current hot trend in YA (as a friend put it the other day, "Dystopian is the new angels is the new zombies is the n**spoiler alert** Following in the current hot trend in YA (as a friend put it the other day, "Dystopian is the new angels is the new zombies is the new werewolves is the new vampires..."), Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is very much your typical dystopian YA. In an undisclosed time in the future, there is something drastically wrong with the world; the weather patterns seem to be shifting haphazardly; the government, now known as the Reestablishment, may or may not seem to have some knowledge into what's going on; there is civil unrest. Shatter Me is also your typical YA; Juliette, the protagonist, blames herself for something that may or may not have been her fault, and eventually falls for the extremely good looking Adam, who may or may not have her best interests at heart. However, there is plenty in this story that makes it NOT your typical YA.
Spoilery bits ahead!!
First off, and this is something that really can't be overlooked, is the purple prose. There's a LOT of it in this book, and at first I found it a little distracting, only because it seemed so conspicuous. However, the more I thought about the book afterward, I can't imagine how Mafi could have told this story any other way. Juliette is almost an unreliable narrator; at the beginning of the book, she has been locked up in an institution for 264 days with no contact with any other people, and there is some question right from the beginning as to her sanity. Since we're in this story from her POV, the purple prose does seem to become a little more stream of conscious, so it appears that what she's thinking may not always be the most sane thing you've ever read, which leaves the reader guessing throughout about her sanity, thereby creating the feeling of the unreliable narrator. It's a nice little circle that was either done by design or happenstance, but either way it ended up working for me in the big picture.
The other thing that seemed to stick out for me that made this seem a little more than your typical dystopian YA story is the superhero angle that is thrown in. Perhaps Juliette is really more than what she seems, and maybe there are more like her out there. It made for a nice little twist, taking what seemed like a typical dystopian tale and creating something a little more science fiction out of it.
The story opens with Juliette having been locked away for 264 days, with no contact with anyone, for a reason that we're not privy to at the start. Much to her surprise, a guy ends up being incarcerated with her, a guy that she seems to think is from her past, but she's not 100% sure. Eventually, we come to understand that she can kill with a touch, and that it doesn't seem to be something that she can control. Her ability comes to the attention of the Reestablishment, and they want to be able to use her as a weapon against the civil unrest that is broiling across the country. Adam, a member of the Reestablishment army who was planted in her cell to learn more about her, is actually there to try to protect her, and eventually the two escape, after Juliette learns that her abilities may be more than even she is aware of. From here, the game of cat and mouse is on, as Juliette and Adam try to keep one step ahead of the Reestablishment.
This isn't a perfect book. There are certain turns of phrase and words that are used just a little too frequently for my taste; how many different ways can you count when reading Shatter Me that describe Juliette's jaw dropping? I think I had lost count at something like five of them. And the word million is used too many times. The writing can sometimes almost seem a little over the top, but like I said before, by the time I finished the book, I couldn't really imagine the book written any other way. Even the inconsistencies in the writing and the flaws became part of Juliette's voice, still leaving me wondering just how a reliable narrator she is.
Then book doesn't end on a raging cliffhanger, which I'm thankful for. Not every book needs to end that way. (I'm looking at you, Suzanne Collins.) Sometimes the story can just come to a nice breaking point, waiting for the next book to pick. Mafi ends her book this way. Juliette and the other characters come to the natural ending point for this chapter in their story, and I honestly am looking forward to the next book in the series, Unravel Me. Juliette grew so much as a character throughout Shatter Me, I'm curious to see where Mafi takes her next. What I viewed as flaws in the book notwithstanding, Shatter Me is a really great story, and I think Mafi brings something fresh to the dystopian YA table.
Holy crap, but did I love this book! Druids! Witches! Gods! Werewolves! Vampires! Irish wolfhounds! Widows! Throw all these things together, and whatHoly crap, but did I love this book! Druids! Witches! Gods! Werewolves! Vampires! Irish wolfhounds! Widows! Throw all these things together, and what you have is an entirely romping fun adventure of a book.
Atticus O'Sullivan may look 21, but in reality he's 21 centuries old and the last Druid. And when you're that old, you're bound to make some enemies along the way. You see, Atticus is in possession of a sword that he "stole" from the Tuatha Dé Danann almost 2000 years ago, and some of those gods want the sword back. Unfortunately for Atticus, one of these ancient gods has made it his personal vendetta against Atticus and has chased him for centuries. And Atticus has run for centuries. But maybe it's time for Atticus to stop running and face his pursuer. However, even Atticus knows it's not a good idea to take on a god by yourself, so he calls in help from some other gods, his vampire/werewolf tag team of attorneys, a bartender who is possessed by a centuries old witch and his faithful Irish wolfhound, Oberon. But even this mixed bag of heroes may not be enough to take down a Celtic love god who has allied himself with Hell and a coven of witches.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the moment I picked it up. Hearne's writing is so natural that it picks you right up in the story and sweeps you along. The world building in Hounded isn't too challenging - the entire story takes place in Tempe, AZ - but it's the way that Hearne utilizes gods from several pantheons to create a varied way that religion works in his world. I think this is a really unique approach to gods and Hearne uses it well. Don't let this intimidate you, though. Hearne explains who everybody is and doesn't leave you hanging on trying to figure out who is who.
The writing is fast-paced but doesn't seem to want to try to get ahead of itself. I've noticed this in books I've read before like this, that the story tries to move itself along almost too quickly, not giving you a chance to keep up with it. That's not the case here; Hearne keeps his story moving but without rushing you through it. His entire cast of characters are funny and witty, but not overly so. I found myself laughing out loud through several portions of the book, and especially at Oberon, Atticus' Irish wolfhound. I think that Oberon may be my favorite character in the book. His take on the world and what is happening around him from a smarter-than-your-average dog point of view is often hysterical.
I could gush on some more about the book, but really, you just have to read it to really appreciate just how much fun it is. Fans of Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files will definitely want to pick this series up, but anybody who enjoys a funny, clever urban fantasy will really enjoy this book. Highly recommended!...more
In Meg Waite Clayton's latest, we are again introduced to a group of friends, but instead of watching their friendship grow like we did in The WednesdIn Meg Waite Clayton's latest, we are again introduced to a group of friends, but instead of watching their friendship grow like we did in The Wednesday Sisters, we find ourselves in the midst of a friendship already decades in the making. Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger have been friends since their days in law school, when they were all dubbed "the Ms. Bradwells" by their professor in their very first class at the University of Michigan Law School. We first meet the Four Ms. Bradwells during Senate hearings to appoint Betts to the Supreme Court, except a skeleton in their closet is uncovered from early on in their friendship that may hinder Betts' appointment. This skeleton always raises questions about their friendship and who has kept secrets from who over the years.
Clayton also raises other issues in her book, including those of women's rights, but I'll leave the main issue that she brings to her story a secret, because it is this issue that ties everything together in the book, and I don't want to give it away. Needless to say, the secret has to do with a death, and this is the crux of the skeleton in the friends' closet that they need to overcome. The secret is brought up in the very first chapter so you're not kept waiting, and it's presented it in a completely intriguing and compelling manner, making you want to find out what happened.
One of the aspects that I enjoyed most about The Wednesday Sisters that is carried over into The Four Ms. Bradwells is that I felt like I had gotten to know the friends by the end of the book, that they were my friends too. Clayton has a knack for making her characters completely believable and tangible, with all the quirks and imperfections that would make them real people. They have real faults, real problems, aren't perfect, and in this imperfection, she has created honest and true characters.
Do yourself a favor and pick up The Four Ms. Bradwells. It's a refreshing read for early summer and while it does deal with some heavy subjects, it does so in a manner that is easy to read and relatable to the characters. And while you're at it, if you haven't read The Wednesday Sisters, pick that up at the same time. Both books are excellent stories on the power of friendship and what that power can help friends overcome.
My sister is friend's with Michelle, who runs a blog (strangemaine.blogspot.com) and publishes the Strange Maine Gazette, and telling strange but trueMy sister is friend's with Michelle, who runs a blog (strangemaine.blogspot.com) and publishes the Strange Maine Gazette, and telling strange but true stories from the state of Maine. When I heard that she had published a book and was having a release party while I was out vacationing in Maine at her store, The Green Hand, I knew I wanted to stop by to pick up a copy.
What a perfectly fun little book! You can tell that Michelle has really done her homework and has thoroughly researched her subjects. Filled with all sorts of stories about the people and places of Maine that make up it's unique and strange history, little stories that you won't find in your generic history books, Michelle has created a one-of-a-kind travelogue to the more interesting aspects of Maine. I'm looking forward to future books and her continued publication of the Strange Maine Gazette....more
I'll admit up front that I've never read anything by Oscar Wilde before now, and I think that I'm sorry that I've waited this long. I thoroughly enjoyI'll admit up front that I've never read anything by Oscar Wilde before now, and I think that I'm sorry that I've waited this long. I thoroughly enjoyed his fairy tales, and even found myself underlining multiple passages in the book for future reference. I felt that his insight into life and love and all the joy and troubles that come with both was quite remarkable and still very relevant for our time, even though these stories were written over 100 years ago. I'm sure that if I were more versed in fairy tales and folklore as a whole I might see more relations between his stories and those that came before, but taking these for what they are I enjoyed them immensely. The particular volume that I have contains both of Wilde's collections, The Happy Prince and Other Tales and A House of Pomegranates, in one volume, and I while I enjoyed all the stories, I found that I did enjoy the stories that were from The Happy Prince and Other Tales slightly more.
The stories contained in The Happy Prince and Other Tales are "The Happy Prince", "The Nightingale and the Rose" (my favorite), "The Selfish Giant", "The Devoted Friend" (probable my next favorite), and "The Remarkable Rocket". A House of Pomegranates contains "The Young King", "The Birthday of the Infanta", "The Fisherman and His Soul" (a unique reworking of "The Little Mermaid"), and "The Star-Child" (another unique reworking of "Beauty and the Beast").
The stories can easily be enjoyed just as much by adults as by children, and I think that adults as a whole may actually get more out the stories than children. The tales deal broadly with love and individualism and being true to your self even when others may look down on you. The views of love are both in and out of favor of it, and my favorite passage from the book deals with Love and how it can lead one astray: "What a silly thing Love is. It is not half as useful as Logic, for it does not prove anything, and it is always telling one of things that are not going to happen, and making one believe things that are not true. In fact, it is quite impractical..." Like I said, the insights that Wilde has on love and life are quite remarkable and I found them very relevant for my life right now. I would highly recommend this book to anyone....more
A "Where's Waldo" for Doctor Who fans, journey across some of the Doctor's various locales and try to find him, Amy, Rory, the TARDIS, and numerous otA "Where's Waldo" for Doctor Who fans, journey across some of the Doctor's various locales and try to find him, Amy, Rory, the TARDIS, and numerous other items in this book for both kids and adults alike. ...more
I was quite delighted to find in my mailbox the other day another beautiful edition from Lorin Morgan Richards, author of Simon Snootle and OTHER smalI was quite delighted to find in my mailbox the other day another beautiful edition from Lorin Morgan Richards, author of Simon Snootle and OTHER small stories, which I received last year for review. Again, fans of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton will love these seven short tales. I also believe that Morgan Richards has really developed his storytelling technique with this volume, as the stories seem to have a little bit more heart and soul than his previous volume. I think my favorite would be the title story, "A Boy Born from Mold." It may sound a little bizarre (which it is, but that's rather the point), but it also tells a story of discovering your family and becoming who you are.
As with Simon Snootle, this volume is 100% handmade by the author; it is a beautiful presentation. With each volume being handmade there is a certain amount of imperfection to each one, but it fits so well with the tone of the book itself that the entire package, story and all, becomes a unique whole.
Recommended for fans of Burton and Gorey and anyone who appreciates a true work of art from an artist who obviously loves his work....more
Gail Carriger, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: La Diva Tarabotti. Lord Akeldama. Pesto. Formaldehyde. Templars. Biffy. Floote. Lord Maccon.Gail Carriger, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: La Diva Tarabotti. Lord Akeldama. Pesto. Formaldehyde. Templars. Biffy. Floote. Lord Maccon. "Parassault." Killer ladybugs. Vampires. Werewolves. Seriously, I could just go on and on and on about how I love Gail Carriger. And what do all of these tidbits (and more!) add up to? The latest, delicious volume in the Parasol Protectorate series.
Blameless, the latest offering from Gail Carriger in her Parasol Protectorate series, finds our soulless heroine, Alexia Maccon (neé Tarabotti) is on the run. After the shocking revelations at the end of Changeless, she has been cast out by her brute of a werewolf husband, Lord Maccon, and has since discovered that for an as yet discovered reason, the vampires have set out to kill her, by any means possible (including killer mechanical ladybugs). Add to that the decision by the Queen to remove her status as muhjah of the Shadow Council, and Alexia is not having the best of times right now. Deciding that she needs some answers to her current condition, delicate as it is, Alexia travels abroad, in search of the Templars and some possible information regarding her, her father and her position as a preternatural.
Meanwhile back in London, there is intrigue and suspense galore as Lord Akeldama swarms from his home after a mysterious possession of his is stolen. How is this tied to the government? How do the werewolves play into all of this? And when will the formaldehyde run out?
And where exactly has Woolsey's Gamma run off to?
Gail Carriger has outdone herself with Blameless. I'll admit that I was a little concerned with the direction that Alexia and Co. were taking at the end of Changeless (I thought the situation seemed to come about a little too early), but I should never have doubted Ms. Carriger's ability, me the lowly reader that I am. She has taken a delicate state of affairs, and has made it into an integral, key plot point that helped move Blameless along with all the clever and witty pacing that I've come to love from her books. Having Alexia not attached to Lord Maccon was a refreshing treat. I think the characters are most interesting when they are apart, and Alexia is at odds with Connall. Of course, this situation won't always be that way, and of course they work well together, but I particularly loved the agitation felt throughout the book. The only other addition that I would have liked to see this time around? More Lord Akeldama. He has continually grown on me and may very well be my favorite character of the cast. He's just so over the top and divine.
The level of intrigue and the mystery behind the preternaturals was handled so well this time around. Ms. Carriger is developing a most engaging mythology and history for her characters, and I can't wait to find out more! There was just enough dangling plot lines left over to completely whet my appetite for more!
If you haven't had the pleasure of reading any of the Parasol Protectorate series, do yourself a favor, quit reading this humble blog and dash off to your nearest bookseller and acquire copies of all three books. Immediately. Posthaste. You won't be sorry. Gail Carriger may be one of the funniest authors that I've come across in awhile, and her books and characters are among the most charming and scintillating that I've read this year. My only regret now is that we've had the pleasure of three books released with the last year, that now we have to wait until the spring of next year to see what happens next!
What a fantastic find this was! Sarah, Brad and I were out having our usual Friday night, and we stopped at one of our local bookstores, and there, siWhat a fantastic find this was! Sarah, Brad and I were out having our usual Friday night, and we stopped at one of our local bookstores, and there, sitting on the shelf in the graphic novel section, was The Stuff of Legend, and one look at the cover told me this was something I needed to take home, and I'm not sorry at all that I bought it.
The writers waste no time in getting into the story, as the boy (who I think remained nameless throughout the book) is kidnapped by the Boogeyman within the first 4 pages of the story. Eight of his toys decide to rescue him, as they feel this is their duty to him. The boy's dog, Scout, accompanies them into the Dark, where the toys undergo an amazing transformation, becoming the real, 'living' counterparts to their toy selves (for instance, the boy's teddy bear Max because a fierce grizzly bear). The toys are victorious against the Boogeyman's army in their first battle, but suffer a grave loss afterward in the form of a possible traitor in their midst.
The story does move along a little quickly, but it doesn't detract from the actual storytelling at all. There is real emotion in this book. It is a dark tale, but ultimately one that has a redemptive value that I think is rarely seen in this type of story. The only unfortunate aspect of the story is that it is being published in periodical form (this is a collected edition of the first two issues of the comic books), so there is going to be some wait until the next edition is released.
The art is beautiful as well, rendered in duotone pencil illustrations and presented to look like the pages of an old scrapbook or photo album. the transformation of the toys into their new selves is impressive, and I loved how the Boogeyman is drawn. He's both beautiful and horrible, all at the same time. It is simply an overall gorgeous presentation, and I am quite delighted that I stumbled on this in the bookstore. Now, just to wait for the next volume to be released so we can find out what happens next!
The second volume of the collected editions of Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County is just as good as the first, if not a little better. Breathed's wit iThe second volume of the collected editions of Berkeley Breathed's Bloom County is just as good as the first, if not a little better. Breathed's wit is becoming a little sharper; his characters a little more defined, both artistically and literarily; he's beginning to find his way with the characters and the direction that he wants to take his strip in. His social commentary is starting to really solidify into what made this strip what it was: a commentary on us in the 80s. And what rings true then seems to still ring true in some cases today.
The reproduction quality of the strips could be a little better, but to be able to have all of the strips collected like this in such great editions, I'm willing to overlook that....more
I'll admit right up front that I was skeptical about this book. My friend Gail had been bullying me for awhile to pick up the series and give it a tryI'll admit right up front that I was skeptical about this book. My friend Gail had been bullying me for awhile to pick up the series and give it a try, but honestly, the whole Harlequin thing kind of turned me off of the entire idea (even if it is being published through Harlequin Teen). It kept getting great reviews, as did the subsequent books, but it really wasn't until the third book was released and it was dedicated partly to Gail that I figured I should give it a try. If one of my best book friends was willing to promote the series so much that the author dedicated the book to her... well, I figured it was time to read at least the first one, The Iron King.
Wow. Wow wow wow!
I loved it! Julie Kagawa has such a natural story-telling ability that I was completely sucked into the story, immediately. Her characters are believable and her landscapes are tangible. I was thoroughly enjoying the book when she added in such a compelling and new idea, I was practically jumping up and down from the excitement I had. Her ideas about the new breed of Fey is genius. It seems so obvious, I'm surprised nobody has come up with it before (and maybe they have, and I just don't know about it), but she took the idea and ran with it. I don't really want to give too much away because it really is in the realization of what the new Fey are that makes it so interesting, but needless to say, these are Fey for the 21st century.
The story centers around Meghan Chase, your typical teenager trying to make her way through high school and life. She has all the typical high school problems: family, boys, school. But it isn't until a dark stranger starts following her and her best friend, Robbie Goodfell, starts to act overly protective of her that things start to get really strange. It all culminates in Meghan discovering that she is the child of a faery king and that she is being used as a pawn of war. Add in the mysterious Prince Ash, and you have all the elements you need to for one great story. Oh, and don't worry, for those curious there isn't too much romance, if any. For a Harlequin book, they really were light on the romance and heavy on the action for this book.
If you're looking for an original story set in a at turns familiar and yet strange land, I'd highly recommend The Iron King. I'm sorry it took me so long to getting around to it, and I'll admit that maybe, this once, Gail was right. But don't tell her I said that. She'll never let me live it down....more