Well now, this was fun! I'll spare you my standard spiel on how important I think MG fiction is, and just tell you straight out that this book is goinWell now, this was fun! I'll spare you my standard spiel on how important I think MG fiction is, and just tell you straight out that this book is going to appeal to a lot of young readers. It's intriguing, fast-paced, and actually rings true to real life despite its premise. What if you could share other people's life experiences? Would you take that opportunity? What if you could actually take memories away from people? Is that okay, if they won't remember and it might improve their lives? So we come to the complicated web of morality that Benji must face, all while still being a kid.
It should be known that I have a soft spot for male protagonists in MG fiction, because I truly think we need more of them. Benji is the perfect example of an impressively drawn main character. At the heart of it all, he's simply a young boy who is motivated by his desire for his family to be happy again. Which means, of course, that he doesn't quite stop to think of what the consequences of his choices might be. After all, it's for good reason. Right? Then Genevieve comes into the picture and shows Benji that the power he hoped to use for good, can also be used for nefarious purposes. There's so much wrapped up in here. The importance of family, the concept of honor, dealing with deception, and even a healthy does of conflict resolution. Definitely a lot for a young reader to soak up, and yet it's all tied up in a perfectly action-packed story line.
Honestly, that's all I can really say without accidentally spoiling anything. This is a quick read, that's really enjoyable to get lost in. In my opinion, it's just about perfect! I have no doubt in my mind that there are a lot of young readers out there who are going to have a blast devouring this. Rest assured though, that The Memory Thief is one of those books that easily transcends age groups. If you, like me, love reading MG? This book definitely deserves a spot on your reading list. ...more
I actually had the luck to read both Blood of the Prophet, and it's predecessor, back to back. So I can honestly tell you that this book is a stellarI actually had the luck to read both Blood of the Prophet, and it's predecessor, back to back. So I can honestly tell you that this book is a stellar follow up to the first in the series. It's not often that a second book captures my attention more than the original, but in this case that was absolutely true. Nazafareen and Darius completely stole my heart in this book, and the ending just left me breathless for more.
See, my biggest issue with the first book was that it moved along so quickly that there wasn't a lot of time for character development. There was so much that needed to be set up, so many puzzle pieces to lay, that I felt like Nazafareen and Darius just didn't get enough time to flourish. In Blood of the Prophet that was easily remedied. These two felt like real people to me this time around, which made this book all the more exciting to read. I could see the link between them, and not the man made one, grow and strengthen. I also saw huge growth on an individual level in each of them too. It was wonderful to see them finally become the characters that I knew they should be, and even more fun to watch their adorably awkward banter with one another. Ah, budding love.
Points also go to this second book because Kat Ross didn't feel the need to rehash all of the things that she had already laid in place. The pacing here, therefore, is much better. Action meshes beautifully with story line, and it makes for a read that is engrossing without feeling too rushed. Best of all, there's a lot more of the history of the Druj uncovered here. In fact, the amount of curve balls that Ross dropped throughout this book had me on edge. If Nazafareen felt blindsided, I was right there with her. Bravo.
There is a lot dealt with in this book, but the main point always winds its way back around to the idea of good vs. evil. Whether that's an inherent trait, or something that is fostered through ages of deceit. I loved how many realistic issues Ross was able to bring into this story. From prostitution, to slavery, back around to misogyny. Wrapped up in Fantasy or not, these are still shown as very real questions of morality, and it's intriguing to watch the characters deal with these things in their own ways.
So, final verdict? This is an absolutely stunning second book and, truth be told, I enjoyed it much more than the first in the series. Blood of Prophet definitely deserves your time and, therefore, so does the entire Fourth Element series so far! ...more
So, let's start with the good about this book. First off, it's set in Japan and has a rich tie to Japanese lore, which I loved. I've always found ShinSo, let's start with the good about this book. First off, it's set in Japan and has a rich tie to Japanese lore, which I loved. I've always found Shinto to be fascinating, with its deep reverence of the Kami, who keep our world whole and healthy. It's hard not to fall in love with the concept of nature based spirits, and their ability to interact with our human world. I was really impressed that Megan Crewe decided to base A Mortal Song in this faith, and thrilled that ki flowed through these pages.
Sora and Midori are also a very strong aspect of this story. Although Sora has other relationships that make their way onto the page, Midori is her link to the world of the Kami. Their bond is one that goes beyond physical contact, or even the deepest emotions. I loved how linked they were and, most of all, how appreciative Sora was of everything she had been granted. It's wonderful to see a character who actually understands everything they have to lose.
Which brings me to the things I had a tougher time with, mainly Chiyo. I have to give credit where credit is due. It was pleasantly surprising to find out that, although Sora begins this story, she wasn't actually the "chosen one". Seeing what it's like to be the one on the outside, the one who wasn't considered to be "special" was a nice change. The downside to this, is that the book didn't give much attention to Chiyo's overall character development. She felt flat to me, and a little bit flippant regarding her newfound destiny. It drove me a little batty, to be honest. I felt sorry for poor Sora, more than anything.
In fact, had this story simply focused more on Sora and the Kami I would have been smitten. The fact that Sora had to deal with her basic humaness was a great story line. I wanted more of that. More introspection, more newly found inner strength, and more of her growth. As it stands, a vast majority of this book is nothing but battle scenes. It makes the second half of the book very stagnant, since it feels like nothing but battles are happening, over and over. If this were an anime, it would be perfect! In this case I wanted more flowery writing and character growth. Oh, and less instalove please.
As you can see, this book falls right on the fence for me. Thus, the three star rating. There's a lot to love in A Mortal Song. Its premise is rich, and actually pretty well explored here. I just wanted more, so I'm hoping that I'll get what I was missing in the next book....more
This isn't just a novel, it's a love letter to girlhood. Specifically, it's a gorgeously crafted, prose style, love letter to growing up as a black giThis isn't just a novel, it's a love letter to girlhood. Specifically, it's a gorgeously crafted, prose style, love letter to growing up as a black girl in 1970's Brooklyn. Anyone who has read Jacqueline Woodson's writing, knows that she has a knack for transporting her readers straight to wherever her story is set. In this case, that's even truer than before. Through August's memories, through the snippets that she deigns to share with us, the reader is transported straight back to her childhood in a place that wasn't quite home. A place where the mean streets chewed people up, and spit them back out. Unfortunately, not always whole. You can feel this place, this time, pulsing on the page. Another Brooklyn is stunning, and even that compliment is an understatement.
August allows the reader to follow her back to a time and place where friendship was the only thing keeping her whole. Woodson manages to bring these four girls, and their separate home situations, to life in vivid color. I didn't think it was possible to accomplish that in such a short amount of pages. I was wrong. Each one of these girls is hiding their true self from the others, in the hope that it will allow them to escape into one another for a while. Hoping it will allow them to fade into a group that provides its own kind of family. As those true selves came to light, and I was treated to a glimpse at why these girls needed one another so deeply, my heart broke into pieces. The whole world, at least as they knew it, was against them. Their bravery, as thin a shield as it may have been, was commendable.
If I had one small complaint, it would be that this book simply isn't long enough. I know that seems trivial, since Woodson is clearly capable of weaving a perfect story in this small amount of pages. However I missed these girls after the story was over. I wanted to hear more about their pasts. To live their stories. To be able to fully mourn the ones who didn't make it. I'd have read 400 pages of this, and not even batted an eyelash. That's the kind of writer that Jacqueline Woodson is, and why you should pay attention. So yes, in case it wasn't obvious, you should read this. It absolutely deserves your time....more
As you might have noticed, this is actually the fourth book in a series. Natchez Burning is, however, the beginning of a brand new story arc that readAs you might have noticed, this is actually the fourth book in a series. Natchez Burning is, however, the beginning of a brand new story arc that readers can start at. I came into this story knowing nothing about Penn Cage and his family. What I left with? Well, I can absolutely attest to the fact that Greg Iles has mastered the art of the tie in. With no information dumps, and virtually no flashbacks, I quickly came up to speed with Penn, his family, and Natchez as a whole. It felt like home after only a few chapters, and the story that was spun for me has me extremely eager to see what comes next.
I admit that Natchez Burning had me a little wary at the beginning. This book is a tome. At 816 pages in paperback, it's definitely not a light read. Somehow though, Iles manages to use up every bit of that page count without a second of down time. Every sentence is perfectly placed. Each moment, each event, expertly situated to make this book read at a breakneck pace throughout the entire story. Suffice it to say, I was highly impressed. I was worried that this book would be a chore. Afraid that I might have to read through pages of police procedures and information dumps. That wasn't so, I'm happy to report. While this definitely took me time to finish, it was worth every page.
Penn Cage is one of those characters that you can't help but root for. His heart is huge, his motives pure, and he's willing to throw himself into any kind of terrible situation that comes his way if it means protecting his family and his town. It's tough not to fall for him. I figured out very quickly that Iles knew this, because he threw Penn into the fire and dragged him through hell and back. I found myself gripping the pages, white knuckled, as Penn and those he cared about were put into yet another terrifying encounter. This book has it all. Murders, drug deals, mafia bosses, and the types of "bad guys" who make your skin crawl because they're so wholly evil. Which, in truth, is true of every personality that Iles pens into this book. Each character is treated lovingly, and fully developed. Which means the reader is allowed to love, and to hate, as the case calls for. These are real people, and it makes the story all the more compulsively readable.
If I had one small gripe it would be that, ironically, the ending felt a little rushed. I know that it seems ridiculous coming from a person who as worried about reading 800+ pages originally. Truth be told though, the climax was built up so well that I couldn't wait to see what happened. Which is probably why the ending felt a little quick, and the cliffhanger at the end left me breathless. Luckily, I know that there are more books in this series. So I'll have my hands on the next one very soon. This series is well worth your time! Don't be afraid to start with Natchez Burning....more