I love The Graveyard Book so much, but I have a hard time explaining the "why" of it to people. As a kids bookseller, though, I manage to sell every cI love The Graveyard Book so much, but I have a hard time explaining the "why" of it to people. As a kids bookseller, though, I manage to sell every copy of it within a day of it arriving in the store.
What really spoke to me in this book were the demonstrations and feelings of love expressed through the relationships Bod had with the graveyard's inhabitants. Love is beautiful in all its forms.
Unlike some people I've spoken with, I adored the opening chapter. I'd picked up an advance copy at Book Expo, so I didn't know anything about it beforehand. When I read the first line, the simplicity yet depth of the sentence compelled me through the whole book, where I ended with tears in my eyes.
There is something so beautiful and lovely about this book. I really need to pick it up again. If only I can hang on to a copy long enough to read it. ;-)
It’s incredibly rare that a book manages to vault itself onto my “favorite books ever” list within the first tOverall ★★★★★ Story ★★★★★ Characters ★★★★★ Writing ★★★★★ Ending ★★★★★
It’s incredibly rare that a book manages to vault itself onto my “favorite books ever” list within the first two paragraphs. Only one book comes to mind, at least within recent memory: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman captivated me by the first line. Now I’ve found a second: Cliff McNish’s Savannah Grey, and it did so with incredible force.
What did it? Paragraph number 2: “Reaching number thirty-three, Savannah Grey’s house, the Horror dropped its star-shaped head on one side, knotted its murderous claws behind its back, and tried to work out the most entertaining way to reach Savannah’s bedroom. There were many ways available, but the Horror was young and like all young things, it liked to use its teeth.”
How, I ask, can a book be dull with an opening like that? I was immediately captivated. Not even the change in narrative styles to first person once Savannah awoke diminished the storytelling. I was delighted when I saw that the original voice returned every few chapters to detail more of the Horror and the ancient Ocrassa that controlled it. Neither voice suffered, instead offering a depth to the already compelling story.
While the human characters were well crafted, the monsters came to life with a vibrancy that made me want to see the child-like Horror prance about in a stolen leotard and chasse and leap about while terrorizing humans. The way McNish tells of the Ocrassa’s history is as though he is telling of the Earth itself, incredibly powerful and moving. While explicitly evil, the Ocrassa is rendered in such a way that its actions seemed logical given what it was. I’ve never seen a writer make monsters feel so natural in our world. It’s incredible and not something I can accurately express in a brief review.
In addition to all this, the book ends exactly where and as it should. While there are some flaws (which I’d daresay are minor in comparison to its incredible strengths), I’ve read so few books that seemed nearly perfect in so many ways. This is one you have to read for yourself. Although many of you may disagree with my thoughts, you can’t read this and not wonder at the incredibly rich and original universe McNish created here. It’s astounding. ...more
As I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for a good ghost story, even when it scares the schnikeys out of me. The Restorer is one of those creepily good stories that goes for the perfect chilling factor.
Book one in the Graveyard Queen series (doesn't that just sound so awesome?) introduces us to Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. These aren't Casper-friendly ghosts, either. These are scary, wet-the-bed nightmarish ghosts, so Amelia has held to her father's edict to never let ghosts know she can see them. She's done a good job—until now.
How could a ghost story get even better? Add in genteel Southerns entrenched in secret societies and sacrificial murders, plus a handsome potential love interest with a mysterious past, and you've got a realistically fright-worthy read.
While this book is published by Harlequin, it focuses more on the mystery than the romance, which I really appreciated in this story. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy. ...more
It's a love-hate relationship for me. I love reading spooky tales, but I hate how scared I get after reading them. I'veOriginally posted at Libri Ago.
It's a love-hate relationship for me. I love reading spooky tales, but I hate how scared I get after reading them. I've been known to scare myself witless after reading ghost stories. Oh, I'm fine while reading; it's afterward when I have to turn out the lights and every noise or shadow shifts into its true nightmaric form that I huddle shivering under the covers.
No, I'm not a 12-year-old girl. I'm a grown woman who's been doing this with scary books since she was 12. You'd think I'd have outgrown it by now, or at least given up reading the scarier ones. You'd be wrong.
So what is it about Anna that had me eagerly anticipating a frightful night hiding under the blankets? Here's the basic premise: a teen ghost hunter kills the dead who kill the living. The ghost of a murdered girl tears apart anyone who enter her house. Then the kicker: The ghost spares the life of the ghost hunter, even while killing others around him. Mystery? Yup. Intrigue? Oh, yeah.
To say that the story is creepy would be putting it mildly, but that's not what makes this book so fascinating. From the horrifying first encounter with Anna, the story progresses from mystery to secrecy, and, yes, even to romance. Anna is a fully fleshed-out character (badum-ching!) who becomes increasingly complex as the story progresses. I have to say, she was my favorite part of the book.
I honestly didn't get as scared as I thought I would, but that's a good thing because I stayed up much too late finishing it. One straight shot through the whole book. It really was that good.
The rating was docked half a star because I might have over-hyped it in my mind a bit, leading to a tiny bit of disappointment, but not enough to ruin how much I enjoyed it overall. (I'm probably hyping it a bit too much here, too. Oops.) I'm hoping that the sequel (Yes!) will deliver that last half star to make this an incredible series.
For an author's debut, this is very well done. I'm definitely keeping an eye on Kendare Blake. There are delicious frights to be had in future books, if Anna Dressed in Blood is any indication.
Note: For those who are sensitive to language and violence, this has both. While it's aimed at YA readers, I'd suggest it's better suited on the older end of that spectrum....more
Review for books 1 and 2 of the Past Midnight series
I've always been a fan of ghost stories, even when they terrified me to the point of huddling undeReview for books 1 and 2 of the Past Midnight series
I've always been a fan of ghost stories, even when they terrified me to the point of huddling under the covers with only a tiny air hole open at top, so not even a ghostly breeze could touch me.*
Thing is, I've loved good spooky stories without being overly horrifying or gory, but sadly I haven't seen many good ones crop up in middle grade or young adult fiction over the past few years.
Enter Mara Purnhagen, who has written creepy ghost stories that make me want to burn the candles late into the night as I read, even with the possibility that I won't be able to sleep in a creaking house later. The premise struck me immediately—the daughter of ghost debunkers is followed home by the spooks that apparently don't exist—the writing and characterization are solid enough to provide a captivating story.
While her books will probably be classified as paranormal romance, I prefer to think of them as magical realism. These ghosts are the goosebumpily realistic kind that could potentially happen to anyone—if you believe in ghosts. Maybe even if you didn't.
Both books are good, solid stories, though I was more captivated by the first, Past Midnight. There is also a short story, Raising the Dead, touted book 1.5, that I've downloaded to my Kindle but still waits to be read.
Overall, I enjoy this series and look forward to Purnhagen's forthcoming titles.
*I haven't done that since I was a kid. Well, not really.
Thanks to Harlequin Teen for review copies of both books...more
This will be a rather short review because I've already gushed enough about this series previously. When I sOriginally posted at libriago.blogspot.com
This will be a rather short review because I've already gushed enough about this series previously. When I slip into these books, I lose track of time and get fully immersed in the story.
Needless to say, I enjoyed Beyond the Grave, though not quite as much as the first two. Still, this is an excellent series and one I heartily recommend.
If what I heard is correct, this is the final book in the series. If I have any influence, I would say "Keep on keepin' on" with the series. I'm not nearly tired of reading about Charlotte and her family yet.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of the book....more
Chalk another one up on the list of Books that Hooked Me by the First Page. Actually, this one hooked me by the first line. Let me show you why:
Chalk another one up on the list of Books that Hooked Me by the First Page. Actually, this one hooked me by the first line. Let me show you why:
"The decision to make hellhounds an endangered species was beyond asinine . . . "
I'll stop there for a moment. (Don't worry, you'll get more in a minute.) In those few words, I knew this book was going to be awesome. A world just like ours, but where all of the creatures from your nightmares are real. Then humans, being the odd creatures we are, decided that every species should be preserved—including those that will rip you to shreds and munch on your spleen while you try to "protect" it. Case in point:
(still within the first paragraph) "[These were the same people] that thought you could train a horde of zombies just as easily as Pavlov's dogs. "'When I ring the bell, you will cease tearing the flesh from my bones.' "Yeah, right."
So whose fault is it that humankind are the supposed protectors but really just prey to the paranormal world? Darwin. Yup, that Darwin. Charles and his Beagle stumbled upon not only evolution, but paranormal life as well. The implications of a world like this, where a single moment altered history to the point where the modern era is almost the same, yet completely different, is fascinating. Even more so when the author does a good job of fleshing out the world and the compounding impacts such a change would have upon it, which Barnes does fairly well.
I won't tell you about the plot (which you can find by reading the flap copy) or the creatures (which would get a bit spoilery) that, by itself, isn't what drew me in. Really, it was the way in which Barnes takes traditional notions of werewolves and zombies and vampires (yes, even sparklepires), et al., and twists them in such a way that their paranormal existence kinda makes sense, especially within the variables of this alternate world. Maybe that's why I enjoyed Every Other Day so much: the mythos is almost logical, which is rare for paranormal stories.
Even more important, she takes that one tiny little moment in history and explores the resonance over time and how people and governments change and cope with this new world.
This probably seems like a rather odd review to not even mention the plot or characters, but honestly, you'll find that in just about every other review. Instead, I've discussed the parts of this book that made me read it so quickly, and also want to dive immediately into the next book.
*A note on the rating: While I loved the world-building, some parts of the story fell a little flat for me. So though I really enjoyed the book overall, it didn't quite feel like a 5-star. Here's to hoping that improves in the next book of the series.
**Also, a note on the cover: Gorgeous doesn't do it justice. While the main image might not give a clue as to what the story's about, who cares? It's pretty to stare at.
If you like that cover, take a peek at The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison, another title from the same publisher (Egmont). Wouldn't they look so pretty sitting together on a shelf? ...more
I've been fascinated for a while now with the fusion of text and graphics that comprise graphic novels. The problem I fOriginally posted at Libri Ago.
I've been fascinated for a while now with the fusion of text and graphics that comprise graphic novels. The problem I find is that most comics and graphic novels are geared toward a male audience. While it's great that there are books for the numerous guys who are reluctant readers, I wish there were more graphic novels that appealed to women—especially women who are strong, smart, and dress in actual clothes. So I was ecstatic when I found Gunnerkrigg Court, a captivating series of graphic novels for teen girls.
In the first volume, Orientation, Antimony Carver arrives at the gloomy Gunnerkrigg Court, a British boarding school that looks more like a factory than a school. Sounds normal enough, but that illusion fades within the first few pages as strange things start to happen.
Soon enough Antimony discovers that her parents—her mother recently deceased and her father missing—are intricately tied to this school and the mysteries that surround it. Events at Gunnerkrigg may even hold the key to understanding what happened to her parents.
Antimony's world is a dark one populated with robots, demons, and forest gods, but it also one in which she and her pre-teen classmates can still have fun. This isn't a humorous book by any means, but there is a quirkiness to the situations and scenes that give it a certain kind of depth I've only found in graphic novels. The best comparison I can make is to Emily the Strange, another graphic novel series* I absolutely adore. As with Emily the Strange, there's something youthful but dark about the illustrations that I find fascinating.
While some of the chapters in this volume feel a bit episodic—which makes sense considering the series started out as a web comic—enough of the the overarching plot threads are woven throughout that it all fits together well.
This volume ends much like the Harry Potter books: at the end of the school year but with enough mystery to propel readers immediately into the next book.
* There is a series of books for teens featuring Emily the Strange that are mainly text-based but with graphic elements. The original graphic novels are much darker, though just as compelling, and fit more into the traditional comic style. ...more
Sorry, no rippling teen werewolf abs or sparklepire foes in this tale. Just a good old-fashioned story of a reporter ouOriginally posted at Libri Ago.
Sorry, no rippling teen werewolf abs or sparklepire foes in this tale. Just a good old-fashioned story of a reporter out to debunk an urban legend.
I love that a modern story involving a werewolf can be categorized as a contemporary realistic book. Realism FTW! I'm so ready for the paranormal phase to be over and get back to the good old-fashioned ghost, monster, and urban legend stories. I prefer to outrun scary creatures, not date them.
Before getting to the heart of the review, I do have one confession to make*: I have a large weakness for stories involving reporters and/or editors from small-town newspapers, or from big papers sent to small towns. It has to do with some of my college-hood dreams. I majored in journalism, later working as a reporter and then an editor at a large metropolitan newspaper. Honestly, I'm still a reporter at heart. Even now I get all squiggly inside thinking about how much fun it'd be to spend a few years working at a small-town newspaper.**
So when I saw that Cry Wolf incorporated a) a big-city reporter coming to a small-town to investigate an b) urban myth in the form of a werewolf, with a c) romance likely to develop, I was a goner. Absolutely perfect.
That said, it was a nice story on the merits of the writing and characters as well. I'll admit I don't have many nitpicks, but probably more so because I got lost in the story. Which, honestly, should be the goal of every writer.
It's a fun read, with a romance that feels rather realistic (including sexy bits, if you're at all concerned about that), and a kitten. How could it not be good when there's a rescued kitten? I don't think it's possible.
Joking aside, I liked this book. Four stars to the author for an enjoyable ride. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys light, fun romances with a touch of mystery.
*I mention this now because there is a very good possibility that other books of this nature will cross the pages of this blog, and fairly soon. There are a couple of them winking at me from my TBR pile. Those little minxes.
**It'll have to be a small one since most of the big ones are going kaput. Or being handed over to untrained bloggers, but I won't get into that. *tries not to grumble*
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy!...more
When a book's description says: "An action-packed drama full of East End gangs, witches, and a modern day Inquisition. In a modern world-where witchesWhen a book's description says: "An action-packed drama full of East End gangs, witches, and a modern day Inquisition. In a modern world-where witches are hunted down and burned at the stake-two live interact. Glory is from a family of witches, and is desperate to develop the 'Fae' and become a witch herself. Lucas is the son of the Chief Prosecutor for the Inquisition and his privileged life is very different from the witches he is being trained to prosecute. And then one day, both Glory and Lucas develop the Fae. In one fell stroke, their lives are inextricably bound together, whether they like it or not."
I say, "Sign me up!"
Seriously, witches and a modern day Inquisition. So awesome. I'm loving the trend of alternate realities in contemporary culture. (See also Every Other Day.)
*The book description on NetGalley is better than the one here....more