Persistence of Memory, the tenth novel by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, takes us away from the fantasy world of The Kiesha’ra Series, and back to the modernPersistence of Memory, the tenth novel by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, takes us away from the fantasy world of The Kiesha’ra Series, and back to the modern vampire world created in her first four books. Our main character, Erin, is a teenage girl who grew up believing that she was schizophrenic. She is prone to “episodes” where she seems to be taken over by another personality, a violent woman name Shevaun. At the beginning of the book, the heavily medicated Erin has not had an episode in a while. Her therapist is hopeful that she will be able to re-enter the public school system and function as a normal teenager. The only problem? Erin isn’t schizophrenic. Shevaun is not an alternate personality, but a deadly vampire, centuries old, who shares a psychic link with young Erin. Until this link is severed, Erin will never be able to live the normal life she desperately wants.
I was very excited about reading Persistence of Memory. I found the concept behind it fascinating. I can only imagine the struggle of someone who had grown up thinking that she was crazy only to discover that everything she thought was a hallucination was real. Also, as someone who has read all of Amelia’s books, one of the things I found frustrating about her older vampire books was I often felt as if she was drawing a little too much from LJ Smith’s Night World Series. Fortunately, Persistence of Memory seems completely original to me. It was great to get a story that was purely Amelia, with no outside influences.
Unfortunately, the execution these great ideas are rather uneven. At times, the writing is absolutely fine. The scene where Erin first wakes up inside Shevaun’s body is particularly riveting. Other time, the writer falls into the mistake of “showing, not telling,” which is not something I’d expect from an experienced writer with ten years in the field. As a result, the characters, besides Erin herself, often come off as feeling underdeveloped. I felt as if I was struggling to make emotional connections with them, but was constantly coming up against a glass wall. Side characters, like Marissa, are never truly fleshed out. I found I couldn’t even care about a twist that involved her character, even though it was important to the plot. Most frustrating was the character of Shevaun. Despite scenes of painting, and tidbits about her past, I put down this book feeling as if knew very little about here, and she’s one of the most important characters of the book!
The book did have its satisfying moments. I liked the character of Sassy, and there was a cameo from a character from In the Forests of the Night that was unexpected and very welcome! Still, I could not help but feel as if there should have been more to this book. I was excited about the idea of reading a young adult vampire novel that was less about the romance, and more about a character’s personal journey. Instead, I got story that should have been interesting, and characters that should have resonated with me, but in the end, just fell flat....more
I recently recommended Blood and Chocolate to someone looking for a good werewolf book. Soon after this, I realized that I hadn’t read the book in tenI recently recommended Blood and Chocolate to someone looking for a good werewolf book. Soon after this, I realized that I hadn’t read the book in ten years, and could barely remember the plot. It became obvious to me that if I’m going to recommend a book to someone, I should probably know what I’m recommending.
Here’s the basic plot. Vivian is a sixteen-year-old werewolf. She is mentally recovering from a fire that killed her father and exiled her pack to a Maryland suburb a year before. As an artist, she submits some of her pictures of wolves to her high school literary magazine. Her pictures are printed next to a poem called “Wolf Change,” and she finds a connection with its words. She seeks out the author; a human boy named Aiden and quickly becomes attracted to him. As the two begin a relationship, Vivian wonders that if the calm and gentle Aiden will be able to accept not just her human side, but her wolf side as well.
Blood and Chocolate is a book that gets recommended to Twilight fans a lot, and it’s obvious why. Both books center on a romantic relationship between a regular human, and supernatural creature. At the same time, Blood and Chocolate can almost be seen as the anti-Twilight. The first difference would be that the female, not the male character, is not human (a twist for this type of novel). Vivian and Aiden’s spicy relationship is much different than the restrained Bella and Edward. Also, Vivian herself is a far different character than clumsy Bella. She is fierce and confident about her beauty to the point of cockiness, and does not let anyone push her around. Although this book has plenty of drama and suspense like Twilight, their difference outweighs their similarities.
I found that after ten years, I still find this book quite enjoyable. The only thing I find different is my reaction to many of the teenage characters. While Aiden and the friends seemed so cool at thirteen, at twenty-three I found myself wondering why Vivian was so attracted to him. This diminished my enjoyment a little. Still, I really liked reading it again. I’m almost inspired to maybe pick up a few more of the books I got into when I was younger, such as Vivian Vande Velde’s Companions of the Night. ...more
If you’re going to write a book about death, you can either write a profound novel about the meaning of it, or a fun book about zombies. Although DeadIf you’re going to write a book about death, you can either write a profound novel about the meaning of it, or a fun book about zombies. Although Dead Beat touches on the complex issue of death, it rightfully falls into the second category.
In Blood Rites, Harry faced down the powerful Mavra, a Black Court Vampire, in an intense fight that resulted in his hand suffering from intense burns. During Dead Beat, Harry learns that Mavra is still alive. Not only that, but she has incriminating photographs of Murphy that could cost her job. Mavra offers Harry a trade; she will give him the photographs if he agrees to bring her the Word of Kemmler. The only catch is he cannot get anyone else involved, not the Council or the Police, or his friends will be the one to pay. Unfortunately, Harry is not the only one looking for the Word of Kemmler. Several necromancers want it, and all are willing to kill for it. Can Harry manage to get the Word to Mavra before it’s too late?
If anything, Dead Beat proves one thing, the world of The Dresden Files is more complex than ever before. Beyond the main conflict, there are still several unresolved issues touched upon during this novel. There’s the vampire war with the Red Court, the demon Lasciel and the cursed coin buried in Harry’s basement, and the two favors the Harry still owes Mab, the Winter Queen. This doesn't include the various personal conflicts during the book, such as Harry’s realization that he may see Murphy as more than a friend. Although Butcher manages to juggle these conflicts very well, I can’t help but worry it will turn into one of those fantasy series, where there’s so much going on in the background that the author almost spends more time touching on each of the conflicts than the plot of the novel.
Luckily, this is not an issue with Dead Beat. It’s a fun ride, filled with tons of Harry’s trademark humor, and an exciting conclusion. Harry makes two very big decisions in this book. One which I suspected would happen eventually and one which I did not see coming at all! I’m quite excited to see what will happen in the next book!...more
Evvy is a fourteen year old stone mage that finds she prefers the company of rocks to people. Her parents sold her into slavery at a young age. Even aEvvy is a fourteen year old stone mage that finds she prefers the company of rocks to people. Her parents sold her into slavery at a young age. Even after being rescued by plant mages Briar and Rosethorn, Evvy’s life has not been perfect. When Rosethorn and the water mage Myrrthide are called to Starns Island to investigate dying plants, Evvy is brought along with her companion Luvo, the living heart of a mountain. It’s Evvy’s magic that discovers the problem behind the dead trees and acidic water. Beneath Starns is a volcano begging to be born. It’s up to Evvy, Rosethorn, and Myrrthide to convince the skeptical island community that catastrophe is only days away. With her connection to the earth, Evvy may be able to save the island, but that’s only if she can be convinced that these unresponsive people are even worth saving.
Melting Stones is the first book ever written specifically for the audiobook format. Around this time last year, I listened to the audiobook and quickly fell in love with the sassy heroine and the exciting fantasy story. Now, I’m reading the paper copy and finding that it doesn’t sparkle quite as much. Certain aspects, such as the dumping a lot of background information in dialogue, didn’t bother me at all with the audiobook. With the paper copy, I found the amount of this in the first few chapters to be a little distracting. Luckily, once we really get into the story, this no longer is a problem. Another problem I had was Evvy, who I had no problems with the audiobook, seemed a little more likable the first time around. While she is certainly not an unlikable heroine, I felt she came off a little bratty at times.
Still, there are certain things I loved on both my first and second readings. Tamora Pierce has a knack for creating a fantasy setting that goes beyond the medieval standards. Melting Stones, with its island setting, is different from most fantasy books, and the author uses descriptions of food and geography to highlight that for us. Another thing that I enjoy about Melting Stones, and her other Circle novels, is the fact that magic can be found in unique places. Sure, plant and water mages can be found in other books, but how often do you read books about people who find their magic in threadwork or cooking? With Evvy, we find magic in faultiness and minerals. Even the creation of a volcano comes off magical, making me wish I had paid more attention in my college geography class. The characters, especially Luvo, are really fun and memorable.
One interesting thing about Melting Stones is that, unlike many of Tammy’s recent books (such as Terrier, and The Will of the Empress) where the tone seems to be getting more mature, Melting Stones is very much a book intended for kids and younger young adults. It’s something a middle schooler would love, especially if they can’t find a way to connect to their geography class....more
When Thomas Raith asks Harry to help out a friend who’s being targeted by an entropy curse, Harry finds himself on the set of an adult movie, his newWhen Thomas Raith asks Harry to help out a friend who’s being targeted by an entropy curse, Harry finds himself on the set of an adult movie, his new client being none other than the filmmaker himself. Harry has limited time to adjust to his new surroundings. All of the women around the filmmaker are being targeted by the curse. If Harry’s not careful, another one will die, and we all know that nothing gets Harry more worked up than a woman in peril. This job also gets Harry further pulled into Thomas’s world, where he learns a few of the vampire’s family secrets, one which will change Harry’s life forever.
One thing that struck me about Blood Rites is how human it is. All of the characters Harry meets on the movie set are humans, and most of the other characters we tangle with are either human, or described as human-like. There are a few exceptions, such as a handful of angry Black Court Vampires, and Harry’s old wizard teacher, Ebenezer McCoy. A lot of the issues that we deal with in this book are tied to human emotions. We learn about two very different families: Murphy’s and Thomas’s. The theme of love is something that runs throughout the story as well. As a result, the story is less action packed. There’s less of an “oh my God how is Harry not going to die this time?” weight hanging over every line. And you know what? It works out just fine. I enjoyed the revelations we found in this book, the developing emotions between characters, and Butcher still gives us enough magic and explosions to make it a fun ride.
Blood Rites now stands as my second favorite Dresden Files book. I eagerly look forward to what’s to be discovered in future installments, and how much danger Harry will manage to get himself into next....more
When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was first published, I thought that JK Rowling was done with Harry Potter, and possibly even as a writer. WiWhen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was first published, I thought that JK Rowling was done with Harry Potter, and possibly even as a writer. With the exception of a possible encyclopedia she mentioned in a few interviews, I thought that we would never see another book from her set in this world. That’s why The Tales of Beedle the Bard was such a nice surprise. Although it’s unlikely to draw any new fans to the series, the Tales of Beedle the Bard does a nice job of giving us insight into Harry’s world.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard, first referenced in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is a collection of wizard fairy tales. Like most of The Brother’s Grimm stories muggles heard growing up, they are all simple stories about magic, with a lesson in the end. Unlike the stories we read, witches and wizards are often the main character, rather then secondary, like the fairy godmother or an evil witch. The five tales included here are “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot”, “The Fountain of Fortune”, “The Warlock’s Hariy Heart”, “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump”, and “The Tale of the Three Brothers” (which was referenced in Deathly Hallows). My personal favorite is “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump,” which tells about a clever witch and a foolish muggle king. Each tale involves commentary by Albus Dumbledore himself, which is filled with the clever humor that we all know and love JK Rowling’s writing for.
The stories are sprinkled with tiny illustrations, which were really nice, but be careful if you’re someone that likes to “flip” through books. They can sometimes spoil the ending! As I mentioned before, these stories are not likely to draw in any new fans, but seeing how this is Harry Potter, I really don’t think that’s a problem. Like Qudditch Through the Ages, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a large part of this book’s appeal is it gives the setting of the Harry Potter books more depth. By reading stories that wizard children were told growing up, it makes its world seem more tangible and more real. This book, published to benefit a charity called The Children’s High Level Group, is perfect for any Harry Potter fan that wants just one more glimpse into this magical world....more
**spoiler alert** Death Masks begins in a setting that you wouldn’t normally picture Harry in, a Jerry Springer-esque talk show. It’s here that Harry**spoiler alert** Death Masks begins in a setting that you wouldn’t normally picture Harry in, a Jerry Springer-esque talk show. It’s here that Harry is approached by Ortega, a noble vampire with an interesting proposition: a duel to the death. If Harry wins, the Red Court will consider Chicago a safe spot during the war, thereby protecting all of Harry’s loved ones. If he loses, he’ll be dead, something that will make a lot of vampires happy. Since Harry just can’t have one giant mess on his plate, things quickly become more complicated. A Vatican priest approaches him to find the missing Shroud of Turin, another task that will probably cost Harry his life. Then, Harry’s ex girlfriend Susan returns to Chicago with a new purpose in her life, and possibly a new guy. Like any of the Dresden Files, it’s obvious that Harry’s in way over his head from the first pages.
Although Death Masks doesn’t sparkle quite as much as Summer Knight, it’s still a strong addition to the Dresden Files. One of the things I enjoyed about this novel was the link between faith and magic. Paranormal books often focus on vampires, werewolves, faeries, and spell casters. Bringing in the church into the picture was original enough to make the book quite interesting. Michael, a Knight of the Cross we first saw in Grave Peril, is back along with the two other Knights, both who are very interesting characters in their own way. Susan was a welcome edition into the story, and of course Murphy was back as well. The pacing of this novel was quite suspenseful, and it was often very hard for me to put it down. The only drawback I could think of was a few noticeable typos. As someone that doesn’t normally notice this type of thing, I’m surprised they got past both Butcher and the proofreader.
Death Masks is a really fun ride, filled with great characters, and a distractingly suspenseful plot. Although Summer Knight is still my favorite in the series, I really enjoyed reading this one too....more
Mitsuko spends her days writing poetry, and keeping herself hidden from most of the world outside of her own family. But when her sister Amaiko’s husbMitsuko spends her days writing poetry, and keeping herself hidden from most of the world outside of her own family. But when her sister Amaiko’s husband, Yugiri, is murdered, and her sister’s spirit attempts to follows him into death, Mitsuko must flee her sheltered life and find Yugiri’s lost soul. With a crow-demon for a companion, Mitsuko begins a dangerous journey where she must deal with gods and monsters, and save her family before it’s too late.
Little Sister is a book that I first looked at when I was thirteen at a bookstore near my middle school. It’s not until now, at twenty-three, that I’ve taken the time to read it. I don’t know what took me so long. The writing (as seen above) is absolutely beautiful, the language simplistic, yet often heavy with meaning at the same time. The character of Mitsuko, starts out the story very lady-like and almost meek. To watch her growth to a fearless woman is very satisfying. Her journey flows more like a legend of a fairy tale, than a modern day novel, making for a very different reading experience to what I’ve been picking up lately. The setting of Heian Japan is an interesting choice for a fantasy novel. Dalkey has done her homework very well, and sprinkles the story lines with bits and pieces of old Japanese culture. I found myself drawn in right away, and was very sad when it ended....more
All actions have consequences. That’s what Harry is feeling at the beginning of Summer Knight. Ever since the previous book, Grave Peril, Harry has beAll actions have consequences. That’s what Harry is feeling at the beginning of Summer Knight. Ever since the previous book, Grave Peril, Harry has been hard at work trying to find a magical cure for vampirism to save his girlfriend Susan, neglecting his friends, his job, his apartment, and hygiene in the process. Meanwhile, the vampire Red Court has declared war on The White Council, and The White Council puts the blame directly on Harry. To complicate things further, Mab, the faerie Winter Queen approaches Harry with a difficult case, find the murderer of the Summer Knight. In return for solving this crime and completing two more tasks, Harry will be released from the deal he made his faerie Godmother when he was young. Initially, he turns her down, as making deals with faeries is never a good idea. Then, events change and soon Harry has no choice but to help the Queen of Winter. If he doesn’t the world may plunge into chaos.
There’s a bit of a story behind this book series. I read the first three books over a period of a few months, and found them to be funny, exciting reads with an amusing lead. Then I put aside most of my personal reading when I took a young adult literature course. In the meantime, I recommended the first three to my fiancé, seeing as he’s a fantasy fan and I thought he would enjoy the detective angle of the books. He read the first three books, and then purchased the next two. The next thing I knew he was flying through them, and we were making weekly trips to Borders so he could buy the next two, then the next two books in the series. I was sad I wasn’t able to discuss them with him, but one thing he told me was “Summer Knight is my favorite.” So far, I think I have to agree with him.
Summer Knight is heads and shoulders over the first three books in the series, which apparently the author wrote for a class. With this installment, the writing is much better, better to the point when I was constantly looking up and thinking “wow where did that come from?” The plot is tight, and the pacing at a steady speed. Also, I feel this is the book when we really get to see what made Harry who he is. We get to see the full White Council for the first time, as well as a few faces from Harry’s past. This information really helps us understand Harry in a better way. I also like the fact that Harry seems to have learned from his mistakes and is making fewer blunders in this book. He’s less likely to isolate his allies in feeble attempts to protect them, and he doesn’t do something as silly as say, dress up as a Hollywood-esque version of a vampire at a real vampire’s ball. Harry’s really at the top of his game here. It’s not his fault that he’s just in way over his head.
I would really recommend this book to fans of the Dresden Files. Even if you weren’t blown away by the first three, give this one a try. Maybe it will change your mind. The only thing that made me sad is the fact that apparently this is the best book in the series. The feeling of “it’s only down hill from here” is never a pleasant one. Luckily, a few of my classmates have explained to me that it only gets better from here. Perhaps the books will continue to be this good....more
I’m not really a sci-fi fan. Occasionally, I’ll pick up one of those rather depressing dystopian novels like 1984, but I tend to lean away from anythiI’m not really a sci-fi fan. Occasionally, I’ll pick up one of those rather depressing dystopian novels like 1984, but I tend to lean away from anything involving little green men. Alison Goodman’s Singing the Dogstar Blues is a bit of a departure for me. I’m somewhat familiar with the author’s work, having read “The Real Thing,” from the anthology, Firebirds Rising, which stars the same cast of characters. Still, what really attracted me to this book was the fact that one of my favorite authors, Tamora Pierce, recommended it highly. It didn’t take me too long to realize why she enjoyed it.
Singing the Dogstar Blues stars Joss, a snarky, world-wise, harmonica playing seventeen-year-old with very little respect for authority figures. Recently accepted into the time travel program at the Centre for Neo-Historical Studies, Joss is looking forward to traveling back in time and meeting some legendary blues musicians. One thing she didn’t expect was Mavkel, the first alien student from the planet Choria, to attend her program, and to choose her as his partner. Joss finds herself befriending Mavkel, who lives in a society were everything comes in twos, and everyone has a twin with whom they share a deep mental link. Unlike other Chorian’s, Mavkel no longer has a twin, something that causes him deep pain. Joss eventually realizes that Mavkel’s not just depressed, but the loss of his twin is actually killing him. The only way for her to save him is to throw aside her habit of shutting out others, and take the place of his missing twin. Will she have the strength to do so?
This book has three things that are sure to draw me in: likeable characters, a great story, and solid writing. Our protagonist, Joss, is both flawed and instantly likeable. Her sense of humor made me giggle on more than one occasion and it was easy to admire her rebellious streak. Mav wavers between being a cause for comic relief, with his lack of knowledge of human culture, and great pity when it comes to his sadness over the loss of his twin. The world which Alison Goodman has created for us is expansive. So much so that I had to read the first forty pages very slowly, just to get used to the parade of characters, Joss’s unique way of speaking, the setting of the university, and many foreign concepts such as the idea of “comps” (test tube babies with prime genes carefully selected from up to six donors to create a perfect child). Once Joss and Mav become roommates, everything seems to snap into place, making the book very, very hard to put down.
Goodman’s Singing the Dogstar Blues is an impressive debut novel. Perhaps the only draw back to it as after creating such a rich world, she chose to only write one 261 page book, and the short story that can be found in Firebirds Rising. This novel was a joy to read and inspired me to order her second novel, Killing the Rabbit, off of paperbackswap. It’s a crime thriller, which is not really my thing, but if anything, Signing the Dogstar Blues has showed me the benefit of branching out to new types of books....more
In 1928, the Ku Klux Klan settled in a town in Vermont. Witness shows how certain members of the the town reacted, including a young Jewish girl, an AIn 1928, the Ku Klux Klan settled in a town in Vermont. Witness shows how certain members of the the town reacted, including a young Jewish girl, an African American adolescent, and a racist minister. Witness, narrated from multiple view points, is told in verse form instead of prose. This gives the reader the unique experience of getting to see inside the minds of eleven different people living in one town. To assist the reader, the author has provided pictures at the beginning of the book of each character with their name and age. While reading the book, if you need to remind yourself who a certain character is, you can always flip back to that page and see their picture. Children should be able to relate the most to the younger children, especially twelve year old Leona Sutter. Most of the cast are actually adults. Hess does not hold back on the racism present in the community, such as with Merlin Van Tornhout and Johnny Reeves, both who use racist slang that people may not see as appropriate for young children. One of the benefit of the use of such language is it makes the characters much more believable, giving the time frame. The arrival of the Ku Klux Klan is not the only thing going on in Witness. Hess does a great job establishing the time period by having characters, such as newspaper editor Reynard Alexander, comment on related current events of the late 1920s. Time is also spent developing important relationships between characters, such as Sara Chickering and the young Ester Hirsh, as well as Leona Sutter and the elderly Mr. Field. It's these more gentle, positive moments of the book that make it more than a commentary on racism, but a peek into the lives of eleven very different individuals. Witness is a fascinating book that gets more enjoyable with every read. Recommended Grade Level- 4-6...more