Nate and I listened to this latest installment in Eoin Colfer'sArtemis Fowl Series on our way to and from Colorado for Christmas. I really don't know...moreNate and I listened to this latest installment in Eoin Colfer'sArtemis Fowl Series on our way to and from Colorado for Christmas. I really don't know how he keeps coming up with more plots for the fairies and boy genius to tackle. This is number seven. Book six was definitely a low point for me (maybe because book 5 is my favorite--I love that demon warlock Number One), and I was happy that I enjoyed this one so much. First of all, the villain is not Opal Koboi. Thankfully. Also, there's an interesting twist. Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a mental disorder often developed by guilt ridden fairies that results in compulsions, paranoia, and multiple personalities. Atlantis certainly made for some humorous and uncomfortable situations.
As always, there's almost too much action in these books for me. I would appreciate a little more plotting and subtlety, but, hey, for the intended preteen boy audience I'm sure they are perfect.(less)
I'm on to a new Tamora Pierce series. This one, Circle of Magic takes place in a world not entirely unlike that of Tortall. When I'm reading the book...moreI'm on to a new Tamora Pierce series. This one, Circle of Magic takes place in a world not entirely unlike that of Tortall. When I'm reading the book I feel like I'm just in another part of the Tortallan world. The first book in this series introduces four children, all of whom can do magic in a somewhat unusual way. Tamora Pierce, in the interview at the end of the book, said she wanted to tie Briar, Sandry, Tris, and Daja's magic to more ordinary activities like knitting and gardening.
I'm not quite as interested in Circle of Magic as I was the Alanna and Immortals Quartets, but I think that might be because I feel like they are for a younger audience. Still that make for good nighttime listening.(less)
More Bartimaeus can never be a bad thing. In this installment, The Ring of Solomon, our feisty and intrepid djinni is in the service of Solomon, king...moreMore Bartimaeus can never be a bad thing. In this installment, The Ring of Solomon, our feisty and intrepid djinni is in the service of Solomon, king of Jerusalem. As punishment for killing one of Solomon's magicians (hey, it's in his nature), Bartimaeus is enslaved to Caba, Solomon's magician enforcer and forced to scour the desert for a group of marauders. Along the way he meets Asmira, a rather remarkable girl from Sheba who had her own grudge against Solomon.
Bartimaeus and all his snark is, of course, the highlight of the novel. Asmira is an interesting character and fairly well-development, but who can hold a candle to Bartimaeus? I, for one, would enjoy more tales involving the wily djinni.(less)
In Deanna Raybourn's latest Lady Julia Grey mystery Portia implores Julia and Brisbane to come to India based on a group of unsettling letters she has...moreIn Deanna Raybourn's latest Lady Julia Grey mystery Portia implores Julia and Brisbane to come to India based on a group of unsettling letters she has received from Jane whose husband has died suddenly.
The lush India setting in Dark Road to Darjeeling is an added bonus in this solid sequel. There were some pretty unexpected surprises but the murderer (sadly) was not one for me. Still I am a stalwart Lady Julia fan at this point, and I loved the negotiations between Julia and her new husband. (less)
In the final book in the Immortals Quartet Daine and Numair get sucked into the Realms of the Gods in the middle of the war between Tortall and her en...moreIn the final book in the Immortals Quartet Daine and Numair get sucked into the Realms of the Gods in the middle of the war between Tortall and her enemies. Desperate to get back the two travel through the Realms with the help of the Badger and Duckmole (Platypus) gods. Although being stuck in the Immortal Realms seems somewhat inconvenient it turns out to be crucial if the Tortallians are going to win the final battle.
Emperor Mage remains my favorite book in the series. I love the villain, and there's just not enough interaction with that slimy Ozorne in this book for my taste.
One silly question that's been bothering me: Though I like the image of Stormwings wearing bones in their many braids, how do they braid their hair if they don't have any hands?
Isabel is supposed to be the Shifter, a mystical being that protects the kings of Samorna, but when Prince Rokan brings her from the forest to the cas...moreIsabel is supposed to be the Shifter, a mystical being that protects the kings of Samorna, but when Prince Rokan brings her from the forest to the castle she can't seem to remember anything and she can only preform minor shifts. Something is not right.
Leah Cypess'sMistwood could have gone wrong at so many turns, but it didn't. The setup of dropping your character somewhere with no recollection of the past and then revealing that past through memories that come slowly can be a recipe for disaster. (The Maze Runner I'm looking at you.) Somehow Cypess pulls it off. And she also surprised me, multiple times. Great political intrigue as well. I think this is a world that could be revisited many times, so I was happy to learn that Cypess has written a companion novel Nightspell. (less)
This is the story of two Wes Moores, both born in Baltimore. One becomes a Rhodes Scholar. The other is in jail for life. The Rhodes Scholar Wes Moore...moreThis is the story of two Wes Moores, both born in Baltimore. One becomes a Rhodes Scholar. The other is in jail for life. The Rhodes Scholar Wes Moore finds himself preoccupied with the other Wes Moore. The first feels he could have ended up like the second. So he writes a letter and later goes to the prison to talk to Wes. Then he writes their story in parallel form.
I found the book to be interesting, sad, but perhaps not quite as profound as I think Wes Moore wanted it to be. It's pretty clear why one Wes Moore is a disaster and the other is successful. (less)
Holly Black'sWhite Cat completely sucked me in. I could not stop listening to this book (oh, I guess I will do the dishes so I can listen to this bo...moreHolly Black'sWhite Cat completely sucked me in. I could not stop listening to this book (oh, I guess I will do the dishes so I can listen to this book a little longer. Beckett, let's go for a drive so I can listen to this book. I am not annoyed at all that I have to pack for vacation because that means I can listen to this book. I haven't finished the book before our vacation and I cannot wait that long to find out what happens so it must go on my iPod.) Seriously, maybe I should be giving this book 5 stars. I started recommending it before I had even finished.
Holly Black created an awesome world with White Cat. A world where magic is illegal so the worker families become mobsters. Everyone is so fearful of being worked that everyone wears gloves (workers do magic through touch). It's a dark world with the curse workers forced into the underbelly of society. Cassel is the only non-worker from a family entirely of workers. He's trying to fit in to the non-magical world, but he loves the con too much to stop. He's also having weird dreams about a white cat. He wakes up from sleep walking, and the conversations he overhears just don't add up. (less)
I have to admit that Alexandra Bracken'sBrightly Woven started out kind of slow for me. At first it just seems like your typical fantasy quest, and...moreI have to admit that Alexandra Bracken'sBrightly Woven started out kind of slow for me. At first it just seems like your typical fantasy quest, and journeys across hill and dell are not typically my favorite. (Queue my tirade on survival stories). But, by the four stars you can see I was won over by the end. I was seriously impressed with the twists in this book. Bracken had some stuff up her sleeve that I was not expecting.
Sydelle lives in a town on the borders of Palmarta, a country protected by a phalanx of wizards. With the death of king, the political structure of the country is thrown off balance and the surrounding countries look as if they are ready to attack. Wayland North, a wizard and something of an outcast, recruits Sydelle to help him try and stop the war and restore order.
Plus I'm impressed by the story behind this book. While in college, Bracken wrote it as a gift for a friend.(less)
I'm slowly making my way through Tamora Pierce's oeuvre during my night-time listening routine. Emperor Mage is currently my favorite (and looking li...moreI'm slowly making my way through Tamora Pierce's oeuvre during my night-time listening routine. Emperor Mage is currently my favorite (and looking like it will not be overtaken) of the Immortals Quartet. In this third installment Daine and the gang for to Carthak for peace negotiations. Daine has been specially requested because the Emperor's birds are ill. But things in Carthak are precarious at best and few people are who they seem. Not to mention that Daine discovers she can wake the dead.
Loved the villain in this book and all the interaction we have with him. And I love the Graveyard Hag. Seriously. She is a great character. (less)
A Company of Swans is official my second favorite Eva Ibbotson book, and it is a close second indeed. Harriet leads a dismal life in Cambridge with h...moreA Company of Swans is official my second favorite Eva Ibbotson book, and it is a close second indeed. Harriet leads a dismal life in Cambridge with her professor father and miserly aunt. Her only solace is ballet class. Inexplicably the director of a ballet company finds himself offering her a position in his company for a tour to the Amazon. Harriet is lacking in training, but she has something special, and he knows it. Of course, she's not allowed to go, but after a visit with young Henry, the heir of the local manor, she begins plotting.
The Amazonian setting is so lushly described. The time period (1912) is one of my favorites. And the dancing! I loved this book. I loved Harriet. I loved Rom. I loved that I decided to take this book to Mexico. (Not exactly the Amazon, but tropical nonetheless. We even saw a coatimundi.) I think, for me, this book was a case of the right book at the right time. I needed this delicate romance after the trauma of Mockingjay. (less)
For some reason I did not think this was going to be a good book. I don't really know why that was my preconception. I eventually could not say no to...moreFor some reason I did not think this was going to be a good book. I don't really know why that was my preconception. I eventually could not say no to the beautiful cover and fantastic title. And, I was pleasantly surprised. The book was not what I expected. I guess I thought it would be about shape-shifters or something.
It's about a girl, Lena Duchannes, who moves to the small, southern town of Gatlin and becomes friends with Ethan Waite. Lena is not like other girls. She and her family are Casters. They can do magic and at 16 they will become good or bad Casters. It's up to fate to decide. Lena is almost 16, and she's terrified and powerful.
The book was OK. There were a lot of elements from other books, but that's not unexpected. I'm happy to know what's behind that gorgeous cover.(less)
Once again I have neglected logging the books I've been reading for far too long (darn that dissertation and my non-procrastinating ways). Luckily, I...moreOnce again I have neglected logging the books I've been reading for far too long (darn that dissertation and my non-procrastinating ways). Luckily, I have a post-it note right here with all of them, and I will do my best to remember my thoughts.
[Book: A Mormon Mother] was Janell's pick for book club. It's the story of Annie Clark Tanner, as written for her children, of her life as a second wife to J.M. Tanner. It was enlightening and a bit disturbing. I know we are only getting one side of the story here, but she and her children were ill-treated by Tanner who eventually stops supporting them all together. It's only one story and as Annie Tanner says, every plural marriage relationship was different and there were no norms because relatively few practiced this principle, but I'm glad it wasn't my life.
I was so sad to miss book group when this was discussed. I'm sure it was a fantastic discussion.(less)
Jackson Pearce'sAs You Wish is a cute, fast read. Viola has been floundering ever since her long-time best friend and boyfriend broke her heart. One...moreJackson Pearce'sAs You Wish is a cute, fast read. Viola has been floundering ever since her long-time best friend and boyfriend broke her heart. One days she has a fervent wish to belong again and a jinn is sent from Caliban, the land of the jinni, to grant three wishes. However, Viola's reluctance to wish forces her and the jinn to spend more and more time together resulting in a relationship that's much deeper than master and servant.
There were some things I really liked about this book--the Shakespearean names and the development of the jinn's world. (less)
In this second installment of Tamora Pierce'sImmortals Quartet Daine and Numair travel to Dunlath Valley at the request of Daine's old wolf pack. The...moreIn this second installment of Tamora Pierce'sImmortals Quartet Daine and Numair travel to Dunlath Valley at the request of Daine's old wolf pack. There they find things even worse than expected: a mining venture is ruining the landscape and a whole pack of magicians have taken up at Dunlath castle. Clearly the residents are up to no good. Numair gets separated from Daine by a magical shield when he goes to get help, and Daine is left to foil the plans with a motley assortment of allies.
Although I missed the human characters, there are a slew of fun new folks in this book. I especially liked Moira and the basilisk. Daine also learns quite a bit more about her magic in this story and matures as a person. (less)
In the third novel of Lisa McMann'sDream Catcher series Janie, now armed with knowledge, has to make some decisions concerning her future. She thinks...moreIn the third novel of Lisa McMann'sDream Catcher series Janie, now armed with knowledge, has to make some decisions concerning her future. She thinks she has it all figured out until she meets her dying father in the hospital. The problem is that he's in a coma and can't actually tell her anything.
In Gone McMann refocuses on Janie, her abilities and her dilemma instead of having Cabel and Janie solve another mystery. I, for one, appreciated that decision. In reading the other reviews I found that a lot of people felt like Janie was too whiny or self-centered, but, dream catcher or not she's just a girl, and it felt pretty real to me. I think Janie would have had to face this crisis at some point, and I'm glad that McMann gave the crisis its own story.(less)
Elizabeth Bunce'sA Curse Dark as Gold is a retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin story. Charlotte Miller becomes of the dubious owner of Stirwaters Mill when her father dies unexpectedly. Charlotte and her sister Rose struggle to keep the mill, and by extension the small town that relies on it, going. But the mill is cursed, or so the locals whisper. Time and again just when Charlotte and Rose think they are going to get ahead something horrific happens making it absolutely necessary that they make a shady deal with a shady character if their mill is to survive the day.
Bunce's story is beautifully told. The setting that she creates is just perfect. I really could visualize the mill and its surroundings hovering right on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution where the past and the future collide. I think that setting was my favorite part of the story. For, though I liked Charlotte, at times I wanted to shake her and say, "pay attention to the curse business" or "keep an eye on your too perfect uncle" or "please confide in that man." Still it was a pretty fabulous retelling made all the sweeter for me when I noted that Bunce is also a Kansas City resident.
In Mockingjay we join Katniss in District 13, beaten, angry, confused, and fragile without Peeta who is a prisoner in the capital. And that is just the beginning. Katniss is really put through the ringer in this book. Everyone wants something from Katniss, and she has to figure out what she wants. On her own.
I think the real beauty of this book for me was how scarred Collins let her characters, especially Katniss who is telling us her story, become. And she would be too. To be put through the games not once, but twice, to be used and remade by some many groups of people, to be the face of a rebellion that clearly has its own flaws. The anger, the insecurity, the inability to trust, the fragility. Katniss is tough, but she is only human.
And reading about the other characters was just as rough because everyone that the reader loves has lost something. It broke my heart to read about Peeta. And broken Finnick. Gale, with the chip on his shoulder. Haymitch with 23 years of mentoring tributes and no family. Katniss's prep team (who I adore). Boggs, Johanna, Prim, Cinna.
I loved the ending. It was so heartrending and yet healing at the same time. And I'm with Collins heart and soul on who was right for Katniss in the end.
I would love to read the story from Peeta's point of view because Katniss is so far gone that we don't see his road to recovery.(less)
Overall in the epic battle of Zombies vs Unicorns, I have to admit that the zombies decimated their opponents. I went into this fight a slight unicor...moreOverall in the epic battle of Zombies vs Unicorns, I have to admit that the zombies decimated their opponents. I went into this fight a slight unicorn supporter, having learned about the smackdown from Diana Peterfreund, a unicorn enthusiast. I'm sure the zombie hordes will be ever so pleased that they converted me to their masses. The thing is, that besides Diana's awesome "The Care and Keeping of your Baby Killer Unicorn" the unicorn stories just weren't as gripping as the likes of Maureen Johnson's "The Children of the Revolution" about a zombifying mega-celebrity, Cassandra Clare's "Cold Hands" about love that persists after death and reanimation, and Libba Bray's "Prom Night" about what happens after all the parents of a small desert town turn.
But, here's where team unicorn takes the cake, the unicorn stories were all very different--set in the medieval past or in the present, starring benevolent shiny unicorns, talking unicorns, sexy unicorns, and yes, even killer unicorns. The zombie stories, more or less, all deal with the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse and the mostly mute brain-hungry undead. Maybe the unicorn is the more timeless and versatile of the two creatures whereas the zombie is the more horrifying and creepy.(less)
Sarah Rees Brennan's sequel to The Demon's Lexicon is seriously good. I have to admit that I had a hard time with The Demon's Lexicon and here's why:...moreSarah Rees Brennan's sequel to The Demon's Lexicon is seriously good. I have to admit that I had a hard time with The Demon's Lexicon and here's why: Lexicon is written in third person singular and it follows the movements of Nick Ryves. Nick is so cold, so unemotional, and I had a really difficult time connecting with him or even really caring about him. By the time I got to the end of the book I had realized that my reaction to Nick was really just evidence of Ms. Brennan's brilliance. And I'm still amazed that she wrote him so well.
So, for The Demon's Covenant I was prepared. Now, I understood. The second book in the trilogy follows Mae, and I found her to be a much easier fit for me, but I also found that now that I understand why Nick is the way he is I just like him so much more. Covenant deals with the repercussions of book one's conclusion. Jamie is being recruited by magicians. Alan feels like he has to do something about Nick. A couple of demons want their just (so they say) desserts. Nick is trying to deal with what he is, and Mae is smack in the middle of the two brother's issues. The relationships between the characters are becoming richer, and the plot is thickening.
And, Angie, if the girl I'm thinking of is the one you are gunning for for Alan, I completely agree. I'd love to see more of those fireworks. (less)
I have high expectations for Maggie Stiefvater, who I deemed my favorite new author in 2009. Gratefully, Linger did not disappoint.
First of all, this...moreI have high expectations for Maggie Stiefvater, who I deemed my favorite new author in 2009. Gratefully, Linger did not disappoint.
First of all, this book is gorgeous. And I do mean the book itself. From the cover with the splash of red over the i, to the leaf-strewn frontispiece, and the green text, the book is just so dang pretty in all the right ways.
Secondly, Stiefvater has a gift for prose. Reading one of her books is kind of like sinking into a fluffy down pillow. You feel engulfed by the feathery lightness of her language. With her language she creates atmosphere.
And the story. Maybe I should just say this: How will I ever be able to wait for book 3?(less)
This third installment in Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia books had me on pins and needles from the very beginning to the very end. Silent on the Moor w...moreThis third installment in Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia books had me on pins and needles from the very beginning to the very end. Silent on the Moor with its Wuthering Heights parallels, from the wild moor, to the returned gypsy, and the crumbling manor house, is just so dang creepy. Throw in Julia's natural curiosity and penance for digging up trouble and you are bound to dig up some skeletons. Furthermore, Julia and Brisbane's relationship is still as fiery and tempestuous as ever. (less)
The latest book club choice told of Theodore Roosevelt's journey down the Rio da Dúvida in the Amazon Rainforest.
Millard does an excellent job convey...moreThe latest book club choice told of Theodore Roosevelt's journey down the Rio da Dúvida in the Amazon Rainforest.
Millard does an excellent job conveying the character or each of the men on the expedition. I thought a lot about how history might have been different it Roosevelt had won the presidential election with the Progressive Party in 1912. I also learned a lot about Cândido Rondon, a Brazilian hero and the group's co-captain. Rondon risked his life laying telegraph wire across Brazil's uninhabited regions and making first contact with native tribes. His high standards with regards to native peoples were not always shared by the men who followed in his footsteps. I mourned the loss of Kermit Roosevelt's great potential. And I think the man I liked the most was George Cherrie, a naturalist who, over the course of his lifetime, collected thousands of specimens for the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History, and became a great friend of Roosevelt during the journey.
The Rio da Dúvida is now named after Roosevelt and Rondonia is a state in Brazil named after Rondon.
Millard's writing was pretty good, if at times repetitive. And I recognize the difficulty of trying to decide how ill-informed your audience is. I think she did right by explaining much about the rainforest, even if at times it became a bit basic. (less)
It had been some time since I'd read a Mercy Thompson book, but I fell effortlessly and gratefully back into her world. In this latest installment in...moreIt had been some time since I'd read a Mercy Thompson book, but I fell effortlessly and gratefully back into her world. In this latest installment in Patrica Briggs' series Mercy once again has to deal with those tricky and dangerous fey.
The adventure and mystery is fun, but the real beauty of this book is how Briggs' deals with Mercy's and Adam's fledgling relationship. I, for one, loved how Mercy was independent, feisty and unattached in the previous books, but with Briggs' deft handling I could really get behind this Mercy/ Adam paring. Mercy has lost none of her fire or rebellious streak nor Adam any of his protectiveness resulting in some real negotiations between the two. Also, I loved all the stuff with Samuel in this book. His issues finally came to a head making him a major focus in this book. (less)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the daughter of a Somalian revolutionary, narrates her life. Ali spent her childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, as a refugee...moreAyaan Hirsi Ali, the daughter of a Somalian revolutionary, narrates her life. Ali spent her childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, as a refugee in Kenya. Fleeing from an arranged marriage, she eventually got refugee status in The Netherlands. Ali tells of being excised as a child in Somalia, her serious exploration of Islam as a teen in Kenya, and the her participation in march of thousands of refugees from Somalia. All harrowing experiences. Ali writes of her life as a refugee, her assimilation into Western culture, her reaction to 9/11, and her political life in Holland. Of perhaps greatest impact for me, is Ali's disillusionment with Islam and her eventual questioning of Islam's morality.
Infidel is a powerful, perhaps even life changing, read and is a book I am so glad I read. It was also a superb book club choice.
Calamity Jack is the sequel to the great Hale, Hale, and Hale collaboration Rapunzel's Revenge. This second installment follows Jack's story, filling...moreCalamity Jack is the sequel to the great Hale, Hale, and Hale collaboration Rapunzel's Revenge. This second installment follows Jack's story, filling in the details that occurred before he met Rapunzel, and then continuing on with how the two of them return to the city so Jack can make amends.
The book has some fun twists on the Jack and the Beanstalk story with the giants taking over the city. I also like how the city has a kind of steampunk feel to it with the floating penthouse and all that. All in all, I liked Rapunzel's story more, but this one's fun too. Also, I enjoyed the nod to the Provo Library.(less)
Stephenie Meyer's newest edition to the Twilight world is short, sweet, and just okay. Bree Tanner is one of the members of the newborn army in Eclips...moreStephenie Meyer's newest edition to the Twilight world is short, sweet, and just okay. Bree Tanner is one of the members of the newborn army in Eclipse. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner follows her life from shortly before the battle until its abrupt conclusion. It's a short book, obviously, and I'm not sure it's really long enough for us to get to really know Bree. Bree is different from the rest of the newborns. That's what makes her part in the whole event a story, but I'm not sure Bree was newborn-y enough. She just seemed so in control. Still it was fun to revisit the world. I've kind of taken a hiatus from the whole craze as of late. (less)
Jasper Fforde'sShades of Grey took me forever to read. I just don't have a lot of discretionary times these days what with B and D sucking away hour...moreJasper Fforde'sShades of Grey took me forever to read. I just don't have a lot of discretionary times these days what with B and D sucking away hours on end. And Shades of Grey, though loads of fun, is long and involved and full of invented words like loopholerly. So, I followed up my Fforde's dystopic romp with several short books that I could blow through in a matter of hours.
First in line was the 3rd in E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver Series. Ruby still has a tough time managing her life, her friendships, her parents, her panic attacks and, most of all, boys. I just love Ruby's voice and her use of language. Ruby offers real insights into human nature while her self-awareness remains painfully lacking which is what makes her story so funny and so cringe-worthy all at once. (less)