Having just completed The Name of the Rose I thought I would continue the monastery theme with the Monk. My naive self even thought they would be pret...moreHaving just completed The Name of the Rose I thought I would continue the monastery theme with the Monk. My naive self even thought they would be pretty similar in content. Whereas The Name of the Rose is an excellent and well crafted mystery, The Monk is a creepy and suspenseful horror novel. The novel follows the story of two main sets of characters; the monk, Ambrosio and his love Antonia and Lorenzo and his sister Agnes. The two sets are connected in a variety of ways but for most of the story are kept separate. This is an excellent plot device as it juxtaposes the evil and corruption of Ambrosio and the honour and fidelity of Lorenzo.
Ambrosio is the hero of the city. A pious and highly respected monk, he is the model that everyone else looks too. Even heroes, however, can be tempted and Ambrosio gives in to these temptations. Before he knows it he is overcome by passions and moves further and further away from the man Madrid thinks he is. He attention becomes fixed on Antonia, a young virgin in the city and become intent on her corruption. Lorenzo on the other hand has just come to Madrid. He meet Antonia and is determined to make her his bride. Before he can, however, he gets caught up trying to rescue his unfortunate sister from her covenant, in order to reunite her with her husband-to-be. Lorenzo is only working for the good of his sister (and her fiancee) whereas Ambrosio is only working for the destruction of Antonia. It's hard to miss who the good guy and bad guy are supposed to be. The book isn't completely straightforward though! There are some good twists and surprises at the end.
The descriptions and dialogue in this novel, though flowery, are powerful and you can relate the settings and understand the motivation of the characters. Lewis' writing is poetic and I often found myself reading for much longer than I intended to. A couple times I found he got a little carried away and took the reader away from the main plot(s). The back-story of Agnes and her fiancee also seemed to go on for longer than necessary.
Overall a beautifully written novel with some heroic and very creepy characters. It's a novel that's going to sit with me for awhile and I think will reveal even more on a second reading. The depiction of Ambrosio fall for piety to ruin is truly disturbing and makes one question their own motivations and ability to resist temptation. (less)
Susan and Alex have just moved into their dream home. Sure it has a few quirks, what place doesn't, but it's beautiful, has lots of space, and even an extra room for Susan to do her painting in. The landlady is a little eccentric but she seems dedicated to the place. What more could they reasonably ask for? After a couple of days at the new place, however, Susan realizes it may have more problems then they expected. She is convinced that the place is infested with bedbugs. She sees them out of the corner of her eye, she wakes up in the morning with fresh bites. They must be there somewhere. Her situation becomes more and more desperate, however, when no one else can see the bugs and no one else is getting bitten. Unable to sleep, eat, paint or function at all like a normal person, Susan (and everyone around her) is convinced she is going mad. There is one thing she knows for certain – the bugs are there and they have her trapped in her own personal hell.
Considering that I just moved to a big city and that bedbugs are a growing problem all over at the moment, I don't think there could have been a more disturbing book for me to pick up and read before bed. I mean I expected it to be creepy – it is after all called Bedbugs. But I did not expect to be up half the night finishing it and then spend the second half of the night wide awake staring at the ceiling.
The pacing in this novel is perfect. Everything is unraveled slowly and methodically. It really gives you the feeling of dread that just grows and grows as the story continues. It really says something about the writing when a novel can keep the same level of dread/anxiety throughout the entire work. There was not a single point during this book that I got bored, or that my mind wandered or that I even thought about putting it down.
Ben H. Winters weaves together a plot that is full of twists and turns. It will have you biting your nails in suspense. Bedbugs is dark, creepy and it will keep you guessing. As freaked out as I was I really enjoyed reading this book. It's like watching a horror movie – it scares you but you keep coming back for more. I recommend this book to all who are looking for a good scare every once and awhile.(less)
I have owned the print copy of this book forever but have never managed to squeeze it in. Then I heard they're making a film version and I knew I had to read it before the movie came out. I still wasn't sure I'd have time to read it so I decided to give the audio a shot.
I am so glad made the decision to fit this book in. I'm still getting used to the whole zombie genre, but it is growing on me more and more when I see the quality of books like World War Z. Though it's title might suggest otherwise, this book isn't actually about the zombie war but instead about it's aftermath. It takes the form of a reporter collecting eye-witness accounts, after the war has ended. People recount their experiences and explain how they survived.
In this way everything feels very removed from the action. It's past tense, it was something that had happened, and it was horrible, but it is in no way the focus of the story. And although some may be disappointed that there's not more action what makes this an incredibly interesting read is that human element that comes with survival stories. The stories are raw, heart wrenching and for the most part remarkable. In addition, it gave me hope if there ever was a large scale disaster (maybe not a zombie war per se, but some sort of infectious disease outbreak) humanity would be able to not only survive it, but rebuild afterwards.
World War Z is a really interesting look about the strength of humanity and our ability to overcome obstacles. Don't worry if you're not a zombie fan, there are surprisingly few instances where an actual “living” zombie appears. Instead think of this novel as futuristic historical fiction. All the “facts” are here and presented in a unique and interesting way. Making real life events accessible to anyone who is interested.
Notes on the Audio This was my first audio book that was done with a full cast and it was amazing. Each narrator brought something unique to the characters and it really gave you the full experience. There are some incredibly talented people involved in this audiobook and their abilities really shine through. It even has Alan Alda! Imagine MASH but instead of Vietnam its Zombies. It doesn't get much more awesome than that. As an added bonus Max Brooks himself, takes on the narration of the reporter throughout the story. I thought this was a nice touch as it ensured you were being set up with the right tone before each character began their story.(less)
I found this the most exciting and also chilling of the series so far. Some serious events happen during this volume which really make you question th...moreI found this the most exciting and also chilling of the series so far. Some serious events happen during this volume which really make you question the motivations of the characters and make you pause to think about your own humanity.
I liked this one significantly better than Volume 5. It felt more like the original style of the comics - looking at human emotion, reaction, interact...moreI liked this one significantly better than Volume 5. It felt more like the original style of the comics - looking at human emotion, reaction, interaction etc. in the face of a crisis.
However I'm still becoming a bit disillusioned with the series overall. Many events seem to happen for shock value and at time the dialogue makes me groan.
I'll keep reading but I'm going to keep my expectations low.(less)
A gruesome and disturbing horror story, The Night Strangers will stay with you long after you've finished it.
The novel is made up of two intertwining horror stories. That of Chip's internal struggle with the guilt over the plane crash and that of the mysterious group of "herbalists" and their obsession with Chip and Emily's twin daughters. Personally, I was particularly drawn to Chip's struggle. There were times I was literally on the edge of my seat, biting my nails down to the quick.
I found the herbalists story a little more difficult to follow and the characterization felt a bit off. More than a few times it was difficult to keep the motivations of the members straight and there was a lot of arguing amongst the group that I found rather distracting. Furthermore, I had trouble connection the two stories together. I think both would have worked independently of one another so it seemed strange that they were both smushed together.
For the most part this is a really well organized and well paced horror story. It's one I recommend if you're in the mood for a spooky and unique read. No mater where or when you read it, The Night Strangers is sure to leave you with goosebumps from beginning to end.
Notes on the Audio An excellent audio performance from both Alison Fraser and Mark Bramhall. Mark has that perfect deep yet soft voice that is a must for any sort of horror story. It just added that extra level of suspense to an already creepy novel. I really loved Alison's narration as well. Often times I find, when narrators are required to perform both adults and children, there is always one that is lacking. Alison, however, perfectly captured both the adult female voices and those of the twin girls. I would happily listen to both of these narrators again.(less)
Ignore my earlier complaining (see reviews of Issues 6, 7 and 8) about how this series was going downhill. Yes I was tired of the same old, yes I was...moreIgnore my earlier complaining (see reviews of Issues 6, 7 and 8) about how this series was going downhill. Yes I was tired of the same old, yes I was impressed with the ridiculous ending of #8. But Here We Remains reignited the old flame.
Here We Remain sets off the story on a whole new story arc. We've got some of the original characters and some new ones. The addition of new characters added a much needed shaking up. There's some new developments regarding the roamers as well - nice to see they haven't been forgotten!
Most of all I loved some of the quality character development seen in this issue. Especially Rick, Carl and Michonne. Rick and Michonne have definitely gone through more than their fair share of suffering and we've watched how this has affected them. Watched how they've become more numb to the world, more cut off from who they once were. In Here We Remain, we get to see a much more psychological change taking place - something more than just numbness and I really appreciated this development.
Last but not least, Carl. Carl has been an important and central character throughout the entire series. He's survived when so many others haven't and yet we haven't got to know him very much at all - UNTIL NOW!! There was some pretty severe and intense scenes with Carl and you realize how much he's grown and how much he's changed. I really hope we get to see more and more of Carl in the next few issues, I can't wait to see how he takes part in what's going to happen next.(less)
I'm not going to lie to you all. I picked up this book because I wanted to read it before going to see the movie. And I want to go see the movie because Daniel Radcliffe is in it. I'm sure I'm not the only one! However, I must you warn you, if you pick up this book expecting to be in any way like Harry Potter, please set it back down and find a different book, because you will be horribly disappointed.
This book is a ghost story in every sense of the word. As told from the point of view of the main character, Arthur Kipps, we experience every creepy moment in tandem with him. There is no extra information we are privy to as readers, we only know what's in front of Arthur's face. This of course is part of the recipe for any great horror story - limit the knowledge, increase the fear factor. In addition, this novel does an amazing job of instilling this constant feeling of dread that you just can't shake. You know something bad is going to happen but you don't know what or when. It's unsettling but in a good way.
One issue I had with this novel was the time period. The synopsis has it set in "Victorian England". This is not a Victorian novel. It feels more like The Crucible than anything else. It also seemed to slip in more modern language and settings from time to time. This inconsistency was a little distracting and I think it could have been executed much more smoothly.
This is a great ghost story and at 160 pages its a quick read. The story isn't overly scary but it is creepy, and as a result is definitely a fun read (especially at night). If you're planning on seeing the movie then why not read through the book first. From what I've seen from the trailer they're going to embellish the story quite a bit and it might be nice to be familiar with the original before watching.(less)
All other paranormal writers step aside. This is how you write a werewolf novel. Anne Rice does werewolves right. They're big, beastly, scary and most of all intimidating. It seems like we've forgotten that recently.
Anne Rice explores a lot of interesting concepts in her latest novel. Instead of your traditional werewolves – more beast than human – Anne Rice crafts a Man-Wolf. A creature that is both consciously human and beast at the same time. I thought this was an interesting and exciting premise and it opened up the story to some greater concepts. Such as what one would do when in the possession of so much power? How would it affect your decisions? How would you interact with others? I really enjoyed this take on the werewolf and thought it was a lot more detailed and thoughtful than I expected.
If the deeper concepts weren't enough, however, this book is also packed with some serious action. Anne Rice takes all those moral questions and applies them to a sort of “masked vigilante” style of character. In many ways The Wolf Gift is like Batman meets the Werewolf. I'm a huge fan of superhero fiction and the ideas and morals embedded in those stories, so I was incredibly drawn to this idea of the Man-Wolf being a defender of the people and exploring what right he had to take on this role.
I do have one complaint and that is the women in this book are just horrible. Particularly Rueben's love interest. I found her vapid, annoying and for the most part pretty useless. She didn't really do anything to move the plot along. In addition her actions were so irrational. Especially the way she falls in love with him in a matter of days, knowing next to nothing about him except that he's a werewolf. What finally sealed the deal on my dislike of Laura was the following lines, “He drove Laura south to get her Jeep and the bulk of her possessions which amounted to so few boxes that he was kind of amazed. Half of them were filled with flannel nightgowns.” Half of her possessions are flannel nightgowns? Who is this woman? Who has that many nightgowns? It was just one of those things I couldn't get pass and I could have done without her character all together.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Wolf Gift, it was the type of werewolf novel I had been waiting for. Complaints about the female characters aside, I found it to be extremely well put together and significantly more deep than I ever thought it could be. A must read for any fan of the paranormal. (less)
As a big fan of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, I was a little sceptical when I finally picked up this...moreOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
As a big fan of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, I was a little sceptical when I finally picked up this book. The original was brilliant and creepy and just wonderful. How could this book compete? Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself not only enjoying Ten, but curled up on the couch, shouting at people to leave me alone so I could finish reading it the same night I started it. I sat down to read this book, and found that I could not go on with my life until I knew exactly what happened.
Ten is without a doubt a thrilling read. It had me on the edge of my seat and a couple times I was so startled by a turn of events I actually jumped in surprise/fear. Gretchen McNeil has amazing pacing. The mystery slowly unravels before you, page by page, but it's also filled to the brim with tension so that is never gets boring. You won't be able to help yourself, you will have to need to keep turning those pages.
There was also an interesting variety of characters. As you may have determined from the title there are ten characters that feature prominently in the novel. They were a little hard to keep track of in the beginning, but eventually you do get to know them all individually. The trouble with such a large cast is that some of them just aren't as developed as others. This isn't really a problem, since some of them are definitely going to die, but it does mean you won't being particularly heart broken when they do - just freaked out.
Speaking of the deaths... Ten was a lot more gruesome then I expected. I knew people were going to die. It says so right on the back cover, but I didn't expect so many varieties of deaths and so much detail. Major points for Gretchen McNeil here, because she didn't shy away from the more unpleasant parts of this story just because she was writing a YA novel. Teens don't live under a rock, and they are not oblivious to violence so I'm glad she didn't try to sugar coat the details for a younger audience.
And to top it all off Ten has an ending I hadn't predicted. I - like many people - am always trying to figure out what the big twist will be. I started guessing right from the first few pages. And even though I had a number of different predictions throughout my reading of the novel, not once did I guess correctly. I truly love being surprised, especially when I thought back and realized all the little clues she had dropped along the way!
Final recommendation: Highly recommended for mystery lovers and those looking for a good book around Halloween time.(less)
The entire time I was reading this book all I could think was one thing. And I know some people with disagree with...moreOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
The entire time I was reading this book all I could think was one thing. And I know some people with disagree with me, but this is honestly 100% how I feel about this book in one sentence: This book is American History X with zombies.
This book has all the blood and guts and violence of your traditional zombie novel. There's multiple deaths (and re-deaths), there's some scare the pants off you twists and of course, there are some incredibly gruesome images put forth. For those who like The Walking Dead and similar stories, this will be right up your alley. As much as I love all the new spins authors are putting on zombie tales, it was nice to see something straightforward and horrifying again.
But what makes Zom-B really stand out is the way it approaches racism. Our protagonist (or antagonist depending how you look at it), B, is a racist. At times you are really not going to like B and there are some cringe worthy scenes. I can't lie, there were some moments that made me down right uncomfortable. But much like American History X, Darren Shan makes sure you know, that nothing in B's situation is plain and simple. There's the issue of the father and the environment he has created for his family. I was incredibly impressed with the amount of questions Darren Shan raised about nature vs. nurture and the power of change/choice.
Ever since I finished this book I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Zom-B was definitely not what I expected but it has given me a lot to think about. I think it stands pretty strongly by itself, but it will be continuing as a series in 2013 and I am interested to find out what themes Darren Shan will touch upon next.
Recommendation: A gory and horrifying zombie story, that ends up being much deeper than you would have anticipated. Be prepared for a difficult read - but know that it is worth it. (less)
If Stephen King wrote for children I imagine it would turn out a little something like this.
Victoria is a very special little girl. She likes everything a certain way and she’s not afraid to say so. She’s not your typical heroine – she’s not the most popular or the nicest or anything like that. She’s just a slightly bossy, head strong twelve year old who knows what she wants. And I think that is what makes her so admirable. I mean really, who is so sure of themself at that age? Not me. But I loved her confidence nd dedication.
I also loved that even though she comes off a little self absorbed she still stops at nothing to save her friend, Lawrence, when he goes missing. A good head on her shoulders AND brave. It’s a pretty unstoppable combination. She’s someone you would want to follow into battle. Someone you always want in your corner. No matter what the house threw at her, she found a way to deal.
Speaking of the house – it was a character in its own right. I love when locations become characters. It felt so real it was like I could reach out and touch it. Because the thing about The Cavendish Home is that it’s not just a collection of boards and nails. It reacts to what’s happening in and around it and it is always a little bit different. I think this was a brilliant concept and an incredibly imaginative one. When all is said and done it was the house that really sold the book for me.
The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls is a middle grade novel with grim but sharp humour. There’s elements of this story that are very reminiscent of The Witches by Roald Dahl. Remember how disturbed you felt when they were describing what the witches really looked like – you know all bald with the long fingernails and what not? Well that same creepy, disturbing feeling is present while reading this book. Claire Legrand, expertly uses all of those things that give us the creepy crawlies. The bugs especially. *shivers* I’m going to have bad dreams forever about those bugs.
Recommendation: This is a wonderfully creepy and brilliant book filled with an important message about being unique and that “perfect” isn’t always “perfect.” It’s a book that assumes its readers are smart and responds accordingly. An absolutely delightful read for middle grade readers and older readers who love Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman.(less)
Out of all the books I read for Halloween Book Week this year, I knew right from the get go, that not only did I n...moreOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
Out of all the books I read for Halloween Book Week this year, I knew right from the get go, that not only did I need to review this book, but that I would the final spot of the event for it. Because when it comes to horror, few can compare with R L Stine. Before I was waiting in lines at midnight for the newest Harry Potter, I was reading Goosebumps. They scared the pants off me. First the books and then later the shows. When I heard he had a new novel just for adults, I was confident it would be just the scare I was looking for.
The story starts out on a small, very creepy island off South Carolina in the midst of one off the worst hurricanes in years. From the wreckage, Lea (an out of work travel writer) finds a pair of orphaned boys and takes them back home to Long Island. I can officially say, that because of R L Stine's I am terrified of twins. Honestly if I ever meet a pair of blond twins, around 12 years old, I may run screaming in the other direction. To me, the mark of a great horror story is when something ordinary, because the stuff of your worst nightmares. And this is something R L Stine has always done really well.
One nice thing about the mystery and the thrills in Red Rain was that they were really well paced out. There's nothing I hate more than when the action seems to happen all at once, giving the reader no chance to react and absorb what's going on. Red Rain unravels slowly, leading the reader step by step to the final conclusion. It had me biting my nails down to the quick, worrying and wondering about what surprises where ahead.
Red Rain was exactly what I wanted in a horror novel. It was creepy, it was twisted, it kept me up long into the night. And it proved that R L Stine is just as capable of scaring me now that I'm adult as he did when I was a kid.
Recommendation: A super creepy read that is certain to give you chills this Halloween (or any other time of year!)(less)
I picked up a copy of Breed this year at BEA and initially I was incredibly excited for it. A horror novel in the...moreOriginally posted at Hooked on Books
I picked up a copy of Breed this year at BEA and initially I was incredibly excited for it. A horror novel in the vein of Rosemary's Baby? What's not to love about that? As I started reading, however, I found that this book was nothing like I expected to be and that this was both good and bad.
Breed is divided into two parts and my feelings about these two parts are as different as night and day. The first part focuses in on Alex and Leslie and their struggles to get pregnant and produce an heir. It was touch and go for a bit on whether or not I was actually going to finish this book, Alex and Leslie are such unsympathetic characters. Leslie is whiny and annoying and Alex is condescending and ignorant. (I mean really you're going to complain multiple times about how hard it is to be rich?) As far as I can tell you were supposed to feel this way about them, but it makes it really difficult to keep me interested in a novel when I absolutely do not care about what happens to the characters.
The second part, switches gears to after the children are born and I found it much easier to get into and it kept me hanging onto the very end to find out what happened. Because of the comparison to Rosemary's Baby I wasn't expecting the children to be overly developed, and though they weren't as fleshed out as I would like, there was still actual substance to them. It was easy to care about them, and cheer them on. I do wish more time would have been spent on Alice, as I felt Adam dominated part 2, but it wasn't a huge problem.
Overall, I didn't find Breed as scary as I expected. It was interesting and quite strange (seriously, there must have been some bizarre expressions on my face while I was reading this one the subway) but the characters were poorly developed and I can't say I'm 100% satisfied with it's resolution. It felt like it was falling just short of being a really exciting novel.
Recommendation: If you're looking for a book that will send chills up your spine this Halloween, Breed is not it. (less)
I am constantly amazed by how much content Darren Shan can fit into so few pages. Zom-B Undergrou...moreThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I am constantly amazed by how much content Darren Shan can fit into so few pages. Zom-B Underground comes in under 200 pages yet, once again, I feel as though I’ve been on this crazy, emotional ride that I can’t stop thinking about.
Zom-B Underground picks up not long after Zom-B left off. B has been bitten and she is now a zombie herself. She’s found herself locked in a cell and doesn’t quite understand how she got there, why she still has all her same thoughts and memories and what they’re planning on doing with her. I found this a really neat approach to your standard zombie novel fare. The reader actually gets to see what’s going on in the mind of someone who has been turned. I’ve read a lot of zombie novels and I can honestly say Zom-B Underground was unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
I was kind of disappointed, however, that Zom-B Underground didn’t have the same level of commentary regarding racism as Zom-B did. B isn’t the same immature brat that we met in the first book. In a way this was a good thing – we really got to see her grow as a character and I am all for character development. But that being said, that commentary was what made the first book such a stand out for me. I guess that’s the trade you have to make in this sort of situation but I’m still hoping Darren Shan will come back to it in book three.
Finally, I feel it is necessary to add a warning of sorts for those who are considering this book. There is this incredibly creepy new character called Mr. Dowling. He is probably the most terrifying clown ever. I’m normally not scared of clowns but I’m reasonably sure he will haunt my nightmares. If you are at all afraid of clowns you have been warned.
Recommendation: A great continuation of the series. B is still an interesting and complex character and I truly enjoy reading about her journey. Recommended.(less)
This book reads like an ode to Stephen King. Young characters in very dark and violent situations...moreThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
This book reads like an ode to Stephen King. Young characters in very dark and violent situations, lots of detail and descriptions. But I felt like Wasserman didn’t go that one step further and allow her own voice to shine through. This was particularly disappointing because I really liked The Book of Blood and Shadows but The Waking Dark fell short in comparison.
I think the central problem with The Waking Dark is the sheer volume of characters. With so many running around and such short scenes it was difficult to become invested in any of them. If one of them was hurt or in danger, I didn’t feel that sense of urgency or despair I normally feel when characters are threatened. I was also less than impressed with the big twist at the end. It felt reminiscent of so many other stories and I was hoping for something with a little more punch.
Robin Wasserman is clearly a skilled writer, there was obviously a lot of thought and planning that went into this story. As I said, there are a lot of characters and the fates of all of them are intertwined. Often in ways I didn’t even think possible. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to keep them all straight. The Waking Dark is an interesting horror story but at the end of the day it didn’t manage to set itself apart from other horror novels and left me underwhelmed.(less)
I have never read Holly Black before *hides* but after this I NEED all of her books. Every scrap...moreThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
I have never read Holly Black before *hides* but after this I NEED all of her books. Every scrap of paper she has ever put words on.
Some people think it’s strange that I read so much middle grade. And I always tell them that a good story is a good story no matter what demographic it’s aimed at. Doll Bones is an example of how true that can be. Sure, it’s short and simple and at times down right adorable, but it’s also haunting, atmospheric, beautifully written and compelling.
I think the thing that hit me right off that bat about this book was that it was so much creepier than I expected. I guess the cover should have tipped me off. The doll on the cover is central to the story and is known as “The Queen.” And she is genuinely terrifying. Made from human bones, haunting these children, longing to be reburied. It gives me the heebie jeebies. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts it isn’t hard to imagine this doll staring at you with her lifeless eyes in the night… It’s creepy no matter how you look at it.
But Doll Bones isn’t really the story of a doll. It’s the story of three friends – Zach, Poppy and Alice. It’s a story of friendship and growing up. On the brink of leaving childhood and becoming teenagers Zach struggles to balance “growing up” with doing the things he loves with his childhood friends – in this case playing with dolls. There is a lot of pressure to fit in, or be who you think you’re supposed to be and I think these themes will resonate with all readers, no matter their age. I also think Holly Black makes some interesting points about gender roles and what boys/men are expected to enjoy and how they are supposed to act.
It helps of course that the characters were so easy to like. I loved Zach. I thought he was honest, and quirky and fun. I liked Poppy and Alice as well but the longer I am separated from this book the more the two girls blend together. They felt like extras/side kicks to Zach’s lead. Which in the long run was disappointing but while I was reading it wasn’t really a problem.
Recommendation: Doll Bones is example of middle grade story telling at its best. It’s smart and poignant and images of the Queen will continue you to haunt you long after you’ve finished reading. Holly Black’s Doll Bones is an example of how middle grade story telling can blow readers of all ages out of the water.(less)
This review is kind of hard to write because my personal feelings on this book are mixed but the...moreThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
This review is kind of hard to write because my personal feelings on this book are mixed but the writing and quality of story telling itself were extremely well put together.
Let’s start with the writing. The entire novel is written in Old English – right down to the capitalization of the nouns. It took a little bit of getting used to. I mean how many of us read that style of writing on a regular basis really? But once I did adjust I began to really enjoy the rhythm of the story telling. It had a very lyrical quality to it, and I read quite a few passages out loud just to get a sense of how they would feel and how they would sound.
These beautiful words all came together to weave this incredibly complex and intriguing tale. Taking place in the midst of the Enlightenment, this story is constantly in flux, trying to find a place between the wonders of science and call of the unknown. Tristan Hart is the personification of this conundrum. From an early age he has dedicated himself to the pursuit of knowledge, particularly medical knowledge. He builds his own lab, reads every book he gets his hands on and eventually goes to study under another Doctor. But there’s another version of him. One that’s actually quite mad. He see’s goblins and invented conspiracies. And eventually it gets to the point where you begin to question every single scene that takes place. What’s really happening? Is this person actually in the room with him? What’s up with his friend Nathaniel? I really enjoy the unreliable narrator technique when it is done right and this is a good example of one of those times.
However, the reason I feel personally conflicted about The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bone is that I had a hard time with the personality traits of Tristan himself. I mentioned earlier that Tristan is obsessed with the pursuit of medical knowledge. In particular he is interested in pain. How to stop it and how to cause it. I found his actions incredibly disturbing and often hard to read about. It started with vivisections on small animals (which was bad enough) but then moved onto the torture and down right abuse of women. And it goes into these scenes in incredible detail. I read a lot of this book on the subway and I’m sure people wondered why my face paled so suddenly. A couple of times I even felt a little nauseous over what was happening on the page. Please note this is not a reflection on the writing. In fact it was because of the writing that these qualities seemed so real – and therefore even more disturbing. But I do think that it’s a legitimate concern to adress because I’m sure there are other people, like myself, who would have a hard time with some of the scenes in this book.
Recommendation: A good book for those who want to be challenged on questions of knowledge vs faith and maddness vs sanity. It’s a book that could stand up to study and interpretation and I think would be enjoyed by those who look for well constructed plots.(less)
If I’m being totally honest, it was Arclight’s gorgeous, colourful and eye catching cover that co...moreThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
If I’m being totally honest, it was Arclight’s gorgeous, colourful and eye catching cover that convinced me to pick it up. I had no idea what so ever what it was about. I was sold on the cover alone. But then I started reading and became just as hooked on the book’s insides as its outsides.
Arclight starts on a high note. Alarms are going off, codes are being given and people are seemingly running for their lives. We don’t who they are, what they’re running from and where exactly we are in time and space. Normally this kind of beginning can feel jarring and choppy but it was just the beginning this book needed. It gives the story an incredibly high intensity level right from the get go, and it never lets up. If you liked stories that get your heart pounding and move at a consistantly fast pace, you’re going to love Arclight.
Once you’re into the story and are able to get more oriented, you realize you’re reading something totally unique. This isn’t a dystopia, it isn’t science fiction. I saw someone describe it as Stephen King for teens and I think that’s about as accurate description as we’re going to get. It’s haunting and at times, more than a little creepy. The people of the Arclight are surrounded by these creatures called The Fade. They’re creatures of shadows, who have slowly, over many generations, taken over the world. They bleed black and can assimilate your body into their ‘hive’. Creepy stuff. I really enjoyed reading about a creature I had never heard of before as it added an element of surprise. How could I predict what they would do next if I knew nothing about them?
The only fault I have with Arclight is that sometimes I was a little lost. This was because the world building, was at times, lacking. Everything is just SO new and different that it would be impossible to flesh it all out in one book. Josin L McQuein does a pretty good job but I still would have liked more. Sometimes it felt like the world and the characters within it were just rushing by and it was easy to get lost in the shuffle. Overall I was still able to enjoy the story but if you asked me to explain how the world got this way or exactly what the Fade are…well let’s just say I’m not the best person to ask.
Recommendation: Arclight is a high intensity read that actually accomplished the challenge of being “nothing like you’ve ever read before.” It’s great for those who want to get lost in a high action, high impact read. Not so great for those who love really fleshed out speculative fiction.(less)
I am a sucker for zombie novels. I can't quite put my finger on why but I absolutely love them. So when I was offered a chance to review Lily Herne's...moreI am a sucker for zombie novels. I can't quite put my finger on why but I absolutely love them. So when I was offered a chance to review Lily Herne's Deadlands (a novel with the tagline - Everything's better with Zombies - Not) I jumped at the chance.
Deadlands starts out on a strong note. As the reader we're immediately introduced to Lele, a zombie apocalypse survivor living in South Africa. I think I can count the amount of books I've read that were set in South Africa on one hand. It's not a setting you see that often and it was a refreshing change. I liked that we were given references to life before the zombie outbreak and wish there was even more of it. If it's going to be set in South Africa why not make the most of it?
This is without a doubt one of the most underrated comics on shelves right now. It’s a dark and mysterious tale and it had me captivated from the very first few pages.
Rachel Rising is unsurprisingly about a girl named Rachel. Rachel is not your average girl though. She was dead and now she’s not. However before you get any wrong ideas, this is not a zombie comic. Rachel is not undead. She is alive again, with only a scar around her neck and bloodshot eyes as evidence of what happened to her. She’s a very mysterious character, you don’t find out a lot about her write away, revelation are slow and deliberate building onto the overall suspense of the story.
This comic is extremely dark. There is a lot of death and destruction and it will shock you. BUT it is not gory by any means, which is an impressive feat – to make me gasp in surprise without resorting to gore. The art is also completely in black and white. I wasn’t sure about this at first. It’s normally not my thing, but in this case I couldn’t imagine this comic in colour. The black and white and simple style really add to the creepiness of this story. It’s something terrible happening in the most normal of places.
If you enjoy horror, ghosts stories or simply comics with a lot of suspense I highly recommend Rachel Rising. It’s one of my new favourites. (less)
What is Area X? The simple answer is that Area X is an area of land, cut off from civilization, e...moreThis review originally posted at More Than Just Magic
What is Area X? The simple answer is that Area X is an area of land, cut off from civilization, except for twelve separate, government-funded explorations. But as the four members of the twelfth expedition are about to learn, when it comes to Area X there are no simple answers.
Annihilation is one of those books you need to set aside a bit of time and really commit to it. Because once you enter Area X with the biologist, the surveyor, the psychologist and the anthropologist, you aren’t going to want to leave. Right off the bat the biologist (the narrator for this book) fills the reader in on the previous expeditions. And it’s not pretty – disappearances, suicides, mass murder, cancer. If it was me I would stay far, far away from Area X. But not these ladies. They’re true scientists – fascinated by the mystery and the driven by their need to know more.
Before I started reading I had speculated about all the different things that could be hiding away in Area X. Lauren Beukes’s blurb “a little Kubrik, a lot Lovecraft,” left the door wide open for a number of scenarios. But even with my imagination running wild I couldn’t have predicted a number of things they come across in their adventure. There are quite a few surprising revelations that will keep you hanging on, dying to find out more.
It’s hard to get a straight answer about anything though. We are guided through the story by the biologist who doesn’t really know that much herself – though she certainly thinks she knows more than the other team members. And it’s tricky to determine if what she’s telling you is 100% accurate. She’s a tad self absorbed and it wouldn’t at all surprise me if she was holding something back because she doesn’t think you deserve to know. She is a challenging character, and though I never really connected with her, I did find her fascinating.
I suppose the one failing of this novel is the character development. We know next to nothing about the four women on the expedition – not even their names as they are consistently referred to by their positions. I felt like I was constantly being kept at arm’s length, which prevented me from forming any real attachments to them. It’s more than possible this was deliberate but as someone who really enjoys getting to know different characters I found this challenging.
The end of Annihilation will leave you with a lot of questions. The next book comes out in May, and while that’s a lot sooner than most sequels it doesn’t feel soon enough! Like the biologist, I have quickly become fascinated by Area X and I can’t wait to find out more in the sequel. Jeff VanderMeer’s intelligent, detailed, writing and fascinating world-building are sure to please many readers. But I particularly recommend this for fans of nature-based science fiction and Lovecraft-style horror.(less)