Just as in the authors' dedication, this book is a delightful and entertaining mix of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, with a generous dash of wizardrJust as in the authors' dedication, this book is a delightful and entertaining mix of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, with a generous dash of wizardry, magic, and mayhem.
Set in an alternate universe where magic is real and many leading historical figures routinely practice the art of enchantment, the story takes place in Regency England, specifically the year 1817, amid the whirlwind glamour of the Haute Ton season. Told from the perspective of two young women entering this society, through their correspondence with each other, the reader is immediately swept up into the actions of these two adventurous--and occasionally hare-brained--individuals, Cecilia and Kate, as they deal with black magic, suitors, overbearing guardians, and family secrets, not to mention the trials of deciding what to wear to the next ball.
Vividly drawn, frequently funny, and terribly thrilling, Sorcery and Cecilia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot is an engaging start, from two quite talented authors, to what I hope will become a long-running series....more
I can't decide what I think about this book. It was so short I was able to begin and finish it in one day, which didn't bode well. On the one hand, itI can't decide what I think about this book. It was so short I was able to begin and finish it in one day, which didn't bode well. On the one hand, it was as though Francesca Block felt an irrepressible desire to create her own slang and decided a simple book would be the best way to express that new language. The story definitely has a far-out and "special" feel to it, as though only the really hip people, those who have passed an initiation, are able to understand the book. It doesn't seem to contain much in the way of plot; things don't really "go" anywhere and it's a disconcerting mix of reality--albeit a La-La Land type of reality--and seemingly LSD-like fantasy. On the other hand, the book does have two good points that I can find: one, the characters, as strange and as disconnected from real people as they can be, do grow up in the end, and I mean grow up in the sense that they realize that life sucks, people go away, people die, and things change, not always for the better; and two, it shows that love is good and beautiful, something that should (and does) cross all racial, religious and gender lines, so I have to give kudos to the author for that. Perhaps if I had read this in '89 when it first came out, when I was younger and more impressionable, Weetzie Bat might've made more of an impact on me and become one of my "go-to" books; the book is what it is, I've read it and feel neither better nor worse off for doing so....more
This is a book which continues in the same vein (get it? Vein, vampires? Hardy har har) as the original Dracula both in its storytelling method (throuThis is a book which continues in the same vein (get it? Vein, vampires? Hardy har har) as the original Dracula both in its storytelling method (through diary entries and letters) and in many of the characters. However, it falls short of the original in its pacing, which is erratic, and story, which can't seem to make up its mind (is it a romance? Is it horror? Is it a thrilling action-adventure? It could be all of those, if the story were more cohesive). Character development is pretty shallow, and the plot seemed somewhat contrived. It's not a terrible book, but it could've been so much more. However, to be fair, I'm not in the target age range, seeing as I'm an adult (although I use that term loosely). I believe this book and series was written more for a young-adult audience, so perhaps I'm judging it too harshly. I'll put it this way: Even though I have no interest in reading other books in this series, I wouldn't go so far as to say this book is as atrocious as Twilight....more
A so-so book which suffers from two major flaws: one, too much teen angst and not enough zombie action, especially considering the book's title, and tA so-so book which suffers from two major flaws: one, too much teen angst and not enough zombie action, especially considering the book's title, and two, an ending which is very weak and more suited to a short story rather than a full-blown novel. Plus the heroine was a wimp; perhaps she was merely behaving as most teenage girls would concerning her efforts to fit in with her peers, but it made me want to shake her and scream "Where's your backbone, chickie?" Not to mention the fact that she finds the creepy and pseudo-abusive relationship with a footballer an okay situation, falling victim to the disturbing trend in today's culture: portraying the "ideal" teenage relationship as one based on violence, stalking, and/or personal danger.
This book is a light and fast read (cover to cover, it only took me about six hours to read it today, and that's including commercial breaks between primetime tv), much like a marshmallow--and about as filling or as satisfying....more
Normally I abhor the Disney-fication of books when they are turned into movies; it seems sacrilegious somehow. However, I can honestly say that I likeNormally I abhor the Disney-fication of books when they are turned into movies; it seems sacrilegious somehow. However, I can honestly say that I like The Princess Diaries movie much more than I do the book. My nose wrinkled in disgust most of the time I was reading this book. The parents are annoying ciphers, as most parental figures are in the YA genre; the grandmother could've been funny, in a tart, European way, but instead she's just rude; Mia is a spoiled, self-righteous, self-obsessed jerk and Lilly isn't much better. Don't get me wrong, I'm not so far removed from my teenage years that I don't remember how it was to be a fourteen-year-old girl: At that age, we're all self-obsessed and convinced the world revolves around us (an attitude which some of us don't grow out of, but that's another line of thought altogether). However, this book had me feeling my age, because no one can be that self-involved! Growing up, I agonized over my flat chest as well, but not every fifteen seconds; I agonized over being the tallest girl in my school, too, but, again, not every fifteen seconds. I had other things to do and to think about. Mia is a spoiled little princess even before she finds out she's a princess.
And speaking of finding out she's a princess, I don't buy her reaction one bit. Every girl at some point in her life, whether it's a phase that lasts for ten years or a brief musing that lasts ten minutes, dreams of being a real princess. Mia can go back to being a militant vegetarian, but to be realistic, she should've had at least a moment or two of squealing happiness over the thought of her princess-hood.
The book picked up slightly towards the end, when Mia started acting a bit more real, but it wasn't enough to interest me in reading the rest of this series....more
I think it falls under some sort of horribly ironic, Murphy's Law category, that Terry Pratchett, a man who lives off the ideas and creativity percolaI think it falls under some sort of horribly ironic, Murphy's Law category, that Terry Pratchett, a man who lives off the ideas and creativity percolating in his brain, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. I just hope that whatever treatment he is undergoing to combat the disease allows him to share his talent for many more years to come, because no man who can populate books with characters such as Death (who, despite his job, is really quite likeable), Nanny Ogg (we've all known a Nanny Ogg at one point in our lives, for better or worse), animals such as tree-climbing octopods and beer-loving Grandfather birds, and, well... things, for lack of a better word, such as the Luggage, deserves to have his mind taken away in such a horrible fashion.
Having read all of his Discworld novels, I was a bit hesitant to read Nation; after all, if it's not Discworld, is it worth it? The answer is a big, resounding "Yes!" I don't know how he manages to intertwine current events, deep philosophical musings, and penetrating social commentary into a story full of humor, excitement, sadness, adventure... in other words, humanity, in all its glory and failings. Manage it, he does, however with wit and an unwavering sense that everything will turn out alright in the end, not necessarily to our liking, but potentially to the way it needs to be. So, instead of attempting to condense Pratchett's story into a few sentences in order to convince others to pick up the book and read it (and horribly bungling it in the process), I'll simply state: Try it. You'll like it. ...more
Set in a quasi-dystopic future--in which children are removed from their parents at the age of five to begin their schooling and come under the aegisSet in a quasi-dystopic future--in which children are removed from their parents at the age of five to begin their schooling and come under the aegis of the shadowy 'Authorities'; where marriages (called "Pairings") are arranged on the basis of genetics and aptitude groupings (a scientist to a scientist, an artist to an artist, etc.); where race is turned upside down and white people are considered freaks and abominations because everyone is brown--Framed!, the first book in a series, is a thought-provoking look at a potential future of the human race. Set in England and focusing on the life of Luke Harding, a savant in the field of forensics and, at 16, the youngest certified Forensic Investigator, his trusty robotic aide MALC, a Mobile Aid to Law and Crime, and Luke's girlfriend Jade, a talented musician and forbidden love, the book introduces us to Luke's world and his first crime, a murder. Newly qualified as an investigator, the murder seems routine until Luke discovers that all the clues point to him as the perpetrator. When more bodies show up, each one pointing to Luke, he's forced to use all his skills and those of MALC, to solve the crime and clear his name.
Framed! manages to mix together teen angst and a murder mystery, all within a greater setting of a not-quite-ideal future. While the mystery isn't very complex and is more police-procedural than a typical “sleuthing” mystery, the book still deals with the human emotions and urges which motivate all crimes. Malcolm Rose also introduces the underlying tension of such a society, in which a person's life is ruled by a severe set of rules; Luke, though a part of that system, has a rebellious side which provokes him to question those rules and the system which governs them. The most frustrating, yet intelligent part of the book is the fact that we, the reader, don't know exactly when all this action is taking place. No specific year is given and no explanation is laid out for why things are the way they are: why London is now a semi-abandoned town full of bandits and the south of England is considered almost uninhabitable; why the north of England is the center of all learning and enlightenment. All the answers to those questions are left up to the reader to decide, which adds an almost “Choose Your Own Adventure” flavor to the story. I'll state the obvious here: I'm neither the sex nor the age group this book is aimed at, yet I enjoyed it all the same, and I don't feel ashamed about that....more
It's easy to forget how tenuous a hold we have over our civilization. The technology which makes our current lives possible, and easy; the system whicIt's easy to forget how tenuous a hold we have over our civilization. The technology which makes our current lives possible, and easy; the system which gives us the clothes we wear, the food on our tables, the roofs over our heads; the gifts which fuel our communication, our education, our transportation and exploration of all things great and small; all that the current human race is built on is so fragile, when something comes along to break that delicate web, humanity is left as vulnerable as an infant. And just as prepared to survive.
If you're looking for a book which involves international conspiracies, car chases and explosions as those conspiracies are unraveled, this isn't the book for you. Instead, Life as We Knew It explores the simplest truth: How would you survive if the world as you knew and understood it changed catastrophically? Narrated through the journal entries of sixteen-year-old Miranda, the book begins with the normal trauma of a teenager. Her father, newly remarried, is having a baby with his new wife; her mother is still learning how to be a single parent; her older brother is away at college, unable to help out, and her younger brother is, well, a younger brother. Then something impossible happens: An asteroid, which was only supposed to hit the moon with a glancing blow, instead impacts with such force as to tear off chunks of our satellite and change its orbit, with disastrous consequences. Soon after, the Earth is subjected to tsunamis, earthquakes, and massive volcanic eruptions which fill the sky with ashes. Miranda's story slowly changes from one of self-involvement and self-pity into one of family obligation and sacrifice as she realizes how important the little things are. When things are at their worst, when starvation is no longer a horror but a matter-of-fact thing, when an outbreak of the flu becomes as serious as the bubonic plague, that's when something as simple as a box of stale chocolates, shared among the family, becomes a shining expression of love. Heart-wrenching and powerfully told, Life As We Knew It is a book which makes you think, which may or not be a good thing, about your life, your family, and the how much you would sacrifice to save them when the unthinkable happens. ...more
2.5 stars I've got mixed emotions about this book. On the one hand, I've got to give Sophie Jordan credit for creating a unique twist on the shapeshift2.5 stars I've got mixed emotions about this book. On the one hand, I've got to give Sophie Jordan credit for creating a unique twist on the shapeshifting storyline. After all, over the years we've had numerous tales of people shifting into wolves and other canines, sundry varieties of felines, snakes, bears, birds, and even frogs, but someone who shifts from human to dragon, or dragon-like, is unusual. However, the creativity gets lost in a melodramatic story and an unsympathetic protagonist.
As far as the melodrama, that can be explained by the fact that the story revolves around teenagers, who are notorious scenery-chewers. After all, I believe it's some sort of law that once puberty hits and your hormones go into overdrive, all sense of proportion flies out the window. So while our protagonist, Jacinda, occasionally makes a valid point about how her life has been disrupted, she does it in such a "woe-is-me" way that at times all I want to do it shake the shit out of her and tell her to grow up. That said, I also want to smack her "nobody-understands-me" twin sister, Tamra, and tell her the same thing. (Yes, I'm a violent person; whiny people bring out my inner Mr. T.)
Don't get me wrong, I sympathize with both the characters. After all, Jacinda has been taken away from the home she loves, by her own mother ("for her protection"), and told that she has to let the dragon part of her die, no questions asked, no compromise, "for her own good." Basically she's been given the same sort of dictates her mother's trying to rescue her from (how's that for irony?). And Tamra, who is fully human, with no draki blood, is ecstatic that she'll be able to attend high school and hang out with friends, in other words be completely normal and fit in instead of being the one who is shunned and looked at with pity because she doesn't fit in, because she's not draki. I get their pain, I really do. The biggest peeve I have about this situation is that neither one of them sit down with their mother or each other and simply explain how they feel to the other person. Now, I admit, I'm weird: I've always had an excellent relationship with my mother, even through my teen years. When I had a problem, I went to her to talk it out. I never felt I had to hide anything from her or that she wouldn't understand my situation. Which is why I can't understand why Jacinda, who suffers the most in my opinion, can't just sit down with her mom and say, "Hey, you know what? It's killing me that my draki is withering away. I know you and Tamra don't want to go back to the pride, but can we find a compromise where you can be happy and I can let my draki live?" Simple. But I guess that would interfere with the teen drama.
So not only is Jacinda a drama queen, she's also a wimp. There are several legitimate occasions for her to stand up for herself, to clear up a misunderstanding, to use some of her drama to her benefit, but does she? Noooo, of course not. Why would she? Who likes a girl who has confidence and knows how (and when) to use it?
Speaking of which brings us to the romance in the book. Jacinda has fallen for Will, who is a hunter of draki and has a magnetic attraction to her. She is also drawn to him, yet whenever she gets close to him, her inner dragon comes to life and threatens to burst out of her. Which would be a really big no-no. Okay, I get that. I also get her determination to stay away from him because of that fact. However, Jacinda then proceeds to fall into the well-worn role of 'tease': "No, stay away from me, Will! I can't tell you why, just that I can't be with you. Okay, one kiss can't hurt"--rip goes her shirt and out pop her wings--"Crap, get away from me! Don't ever come near me again. But I can't resist you, there's just something about you. I suppose another, tonsil-sucking kiss won't hurt"--pop goes the cartilage in her nose as her face takes on its draki form--"No, we must never see each other again and to prove that I mean it, I'm going to insult you and tear up any note you pass to me! Aw, you drove up to my house at 1 o'clock in the morning just to see where I live! How can I resist?" And on and on, ad nauseam. Which brings up another ever-present theme in recent YA romance: stalking equals romance. Will climbs through her window, breaks into her house to cook her breakfast, and conned a school official out of Jacinda's address the very first day she arrived. While his actions aren't nearly as scary as many other "romantic" leads of recent publications, they're still not something I'd hold up as rational behavior, even if we are talking about a teenage boy, who has as much familiarity with rational thought as they do with personal hygiene.
The book ends on a cliff-hanger, a quite obvious set-up for a sequel, and I'll admit I'm curious enough to want to read it when it's released (or sometime afterward). However, I really, really hope that some of these irritants will be ironed out of the story the next go 'round. As much as I hate to say this, this book brought me to the realization that, even though I believe that the YA genre has some of the most original writing talent out there, I may be getting too old for it. Then again, I've found that these issues (the female protagonist is a tease and a wimp, the male romantic lead stalks the protagonist and she's happy about it, the darkly pervasive theme of possession--"You're mine because you're destined to be mine") aren't limited to the YA genre. Maybe that's what I'm too old for: I'm too old to waste my time on such mindless concepts. Which is a shame, because such creativity shouldn't be wasted on lackluster clichés....more