A beautiful, lyrical read that, with it's interweaving harmonies of the lives of small-town people, is much like a song. Each chapter is a stanza that...moreA beautiful, lyrical read that, with it's interweaving harmonies of the lives of small-town people, is much like a song. Each chapter is a stanza that adds to the beauty of the whole. Very compelling and complex, yet at the same time simple and lovely. It's a true story of the bond between all of us.(less)
When fifteen-year-old Sam gets his girlfriend pregnant, he is whizzed into the future by his idol, professional skateboarder, Tony Hawk. What Sam lear...moreWhen fifteen-year-old Sam gets his girlfriend pregnant, he is whizzed into the future by his idol, professional skateboarder, Tony Hawk. What Sam learns determines how he deals with his status of a new father.
As a long-time Nick Hornby fan, I was disappointed in this book. Although the characters were intriguing, and the dialogue was snappy, the plot wandered in circles becoming, at times, so ridiculous, that it was difficult to read on. "Slam" was like a combination of an episode of MTV's "16 and Pregnant" and the movie, "Back to the Future", only without the epic drama or exciting special effects.
The book is a quick read and, at times, very funny; however, it did not bring anything new to the topic of teen pregnancy or the secret lives of teenagers.(less)
A fascinating 'who done it' set in medieval England. Set against an eerie backdrop of plague, feudalism and church rule, "Morality Play" is the story...moreA fascinating 'who done it' set in medieval England. Set against an eerie backdrop of plague, feudalism and church rule, "Morality Play" is the story of a de-frocked priest who teams up with a troupe of actors who are defying the Pope's orders by performing plays that haven't been approved by the church. This is a fascinating, can't-put-down book!(less)
Truly Plaice is a girl of massive proportions and even greater heartache. Suffering through childhood bullying, the deaths of her parents, and rejecti...moreTruly Plaice is a girl of massive proportions and even greater heartache. Suffering through childhood bullying, the deaths of her parents, and rejection by her perfect sister, Truly tries to make her way in a world that has no room for her. The beginning of this book is terrific, promising intrigue, dark-hearted characters, magic and suspense. The language is wonderful. The author clearly can weave words together to form beautiful pictures. But the book just doesn't live up to it's impressive beginning. There are significant point of view errors, and the story is never as interesting as the introduction promises. The main character is neither likable or heroic, and her acts of vengeance seem inappropriate. It's sad to see such a promising book fall so short.(less)
Even Stephen King hasn't made up-state Main this creepy.
Drug-popping, alcoholic Cass Neary made herself famous by documenting the seedy side of the 80...moreEven Stephen King hasn't made up-state Main this creepy.
Drug-popping, alcoholic Cass Neary made herself famous by documenting the seedy side of the 80's punk movement. Fascinated by death, Cass photographed the bodies of junkies and other unfortunates that she found lying in the back alleys of New York City. But scorning her success, Cass turns her back on fame and foture and, twenty years later, finds herself working part-time in a stockroom. When she gets the chance to do a photo shoot of a woman who is not only a living legend in the world of art and photography, but Cass's idol as well, Cass leaves NYC to venture out to the rugged Maine coast. What Cass finds there, however, are the bizarre remnants of a hippie commune gone bad, a manhunt for a missing teenager, and a terrifying collection of photographs.
This is, hands down, the scariest book I've read in a very long time. Hand's books are always fraught with raw emotion, but she has outdone herself this time. Cass Neary is not a likable character by any standard, yet Hand has managed to make her a heroine to root for. The intensity of the book carried me along to the very last page. At times the book is a traumatic read (the graphic depictions of the punk culture as well as the deteriorating mental state of Cass are at times nearly unbearable) but it is a masterfully-told tale, full of achingly beautiful description.
I highly recommend adding this book to your 'must-read' list!(less)
In an upscale Parisian apartment building, a suicidal girl makes friends with an ill-tempered concierge.
It may not sound like much of a plot, but "The...moreIn an upscale Parisian apartment building, a suicidal girl makes friends with an ill-tempered concierge.
It may not sound like much of a plot, but "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" is a fascinating novel so full of philosophical insights that even a second reading may not bring out its full potential. I haven't been this intrigued by a book since I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It's a simple, yet elegant, story full of interesting characters.
And yet, I didn't altogether like it.
My first complaint deals with the two main characters, both of whom are so condescending that it's nearly impossible to relate to them. It's only by the end of the story that the reader is able to form a bond with either of them.
And there is my second complaint...the ending. I can't help but feel as though the writer gave up. It was as if she couldn't envision a way to make her characters happy, so she opted for the opposite by offering a Jody Picoult-style ending.
But although I'm giving this book only three out of five stars, I still recommend reading it. There are parts when the prose soars, and much of the observations will stay with the reader for a long time. It is a beautifully-written novel.(less)
Like many YA urban fantasies, Cassandra Clare's City of Bones is full of teenage angst, unrequited love, and a kind of hard-edged rebellion that popul...moreLike many YA urban fantasies, Cassandra Clare's City of Bones is full of teenage angst, unrequited love, and a kind of hard-edged rebellion that populates so much YA fiction nowadays. But unlike other books of this sort, City of Bones also contains a mix of interesting characters, richly-crafted world building, and a very compelling plot.
When Clarissa Fray, Clary to her friends, accidentally stumbles across a troupe of demon slayers in action at a downtown New York dance club, she isn't sure who is more repellent: the demon or the Shadow Hunters who take it down. But before she can make up her mind about who are the good guys and who are the bad, she finds herself smack in the middle of a war that's been raging in the Underworld for years. And when her mother is captured and hauled off to the lair of one of the most evil Shadow Hunters of all, Clary must join forces with a group of teens who dislike her company as much as she dislikes theirs in order to get her mother back.
Unlike some books, City of Bones isn't all about making googley eyes at the vampire (er, boy) you love but can't have. No, there's much more substance to this story. Clary struggles to deal with the lies she's been told all her life, the rejection by a man whom she'd loved like a father, and her own insecurities about her place in the world. And she's no shrinking violet. She's afraid, but acts courageously. She's uncertain, but she makes her mark on the story. She's a strong heroine, but a good friend. She may be interested in boys, but she's not so myopic that she'll run headlong into a bad relationship.
There are a few trouble spots in the book. Speech tags, a particular bugbear of mine, run rampant. The pacing, especially towards the end, isn't quite where it should be And there are some point of view issues as well. Overall, however, the book reads well.
I'm sure that any teenage girl who loves urban fantasy would love this book, but even from the jaded eyes of a forty-something, there's something to appreciate.(less)
I was looking forward to a light, enjoyable read, but not this light! I felt a little cheated since I was looking for a novel, and what I ended up wit...moreI was looking forward to a light, enjoyable read, but not this light! I felt a little cheated since I was looking for a novel, and what I ended up with was a short story.
The plot is cute, the characters are fun, and the style is terrific, but there is so much missing backstory that the reader is left scratching her head since very little is explained. I felt as if I was dropped into the middle of an ongoing drama, yet this is the very first book in the series. Also, the plot moves so quickly that, at the end, I was left wondering, "What just happened?" The whole thing was over before it ever got started.
I enjoyed the author's style, and I would be willing to read other books written by her provided that they were novel-length works of fiction without so many holes.(less)
When eighteen-year-old Lia's former best friend Cassie is found dead in a motel room, Lia tells everyone that the news doesn't bother her. After all,...moreWhen eighteen-year-old Lia's former best friend Cassie is found dead in a motel room, Lia tells everyone that the news doesn't bother her. After all, she and Cassie haven't been friends for a very long time. Not since Cassie's mother drove them apart, claiming that Lia was a bad influence on her daughter. But while Lia pretends that she's okay, inside, she's falling apart. She's already been hospitalized twice for anorexia, but now she's learned how to say the right things and look like she's playing by all the right rules and even though she keeps dropping weight, no one seems to notice. Only when Cassie's ghost appears and begs Lia to kill herself and join Cassie on the other side does Lia begin to understand that she's not ready to give up on her life just yet.
On the plus side, Anderson once again draws the reader inside the head of a teenage girl on the brink of collapse. And it's not a fun place to be. The torture that Lia puts herself, and her family, through is almost unbearable to read. Outwardly, Lisa manages to convince her distant parents that she's fine, but inwardly, her thoughts twist and writhe like Medusa's snakes. Slowly, Lia is being pulled down to a place where she cannot survive, and she takes the reader with her. This is definitely a gripping book!
But at the same time, I've read this story before. In fact, anyone who's read a Laurie Halse Anderson book has. Although Wintergirls is interesting, it comes dangerously close to being a formula novel ala Speak. I'd love to see Anderson stretch and write about someone other than a teenage girl in crisis. To me, the secondary character, a young man who has a big heart and light fingers, was far more interesting than self-absorbed, angst-ridden Lia. I'll probably continue to read Anderson's novels, but unless she comes up with another story line, I won't be completely satisfied.(less)
It's difficult to write something new about a book as critically acclaimed as Art Spiegelman's "Maus" graphic novel. I can only say that, if you haven...moreIt's difficult to write something new about a book as critically acclaimed as Art Spiegelman's "Maus" graphic novel. I can only say that, if you haven't read it, you should. Yes, it's an amazing story of Holocaust survival, but what I hadn't counted on was the compelling story of Spiegelman's relationship to his father that was interwoven through the history. And Spiegelman's haunting artwork helps to present this story in a way that no other book could.
In the year 2184, humans come in two varieties: the genetically modified version (the Mods), and the ordinary, run of the mill variety (the Mongrels)....moreIn the year 2184, humans come in two varieties: the genetically modified version (the Mods), and the ordinary, run of the mill variety (the Mongrels). The Mods, who are smarter and stronger than the Mongrels, have taken over as the dominant species on the planet and treat their genetic inferiors like work animals, keeping them under a harsh regime that dictates everything they do.
The novel 2184 starts off strong. When the main character Mark Henshaw, a Mongrel, is arrested for breaking curfew, he's sent to a forced labor camp where he must fight to survive. While he’s there, he’s given information that could potentially bring down the Mods's empire. After a daring escape (which is very gripping to read), Mark and a new friend, Kahmal, travel back to London to try to put the outrageous plan into action.
And that’s where the story dies.
One of the best things about this book is that it operates on more than one level. Not only does it tell the story of Mark’s capture and escape, but it delves deeply into the nature of gods and men. It explores what it means to be human as well as super-human, and it reaches some very interesting conclusions.
The problem is that all of this theory and philosophy hijacks the story. Pages and pages of lengthy conversations weigh down the action. So much so, that after the prison escape, it seems that the author is just wasting time until the final sequence (which, by the way, is very good.)
The book would have been better served if some of the conversation and needless details (such as the ten pages spent on explaining how the protagonist loaded a barge) were pared down in order to keep the story moving.
Although 2184 has a unique premise, readers will likely skip over quite a bit in order to get to the good parts.(less)