Miranda has to write a letter. She doesn't know who she's writing to and she's not sure what she's supposed to write about. But she knows that, if she...moreMiranda has to write a letter. She doesn't know who she's writing to and she's not sure what she's supposed to write about. But she knows that, if she doesn't, a friend's life will be in danger. And that whoever is supposed to receive this letter can predict the future.
Miranda is a 6th grader who lives with her mother and, sometimes, her mother's boyfriend. Her best friend Sal, has just become her ex-best friend, after a mysterious kid punched him in the stomach on the way home from school. She's recently started working at a sandwich shop near school, even though she and her friends only get paid in cheese sandwiches and Miranda can't cut a sandwich neatly to save her life. Her favorite book in the world is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. She's scared of the Laughing Man, a strange homeless guy who sleeps underneath the mailbox on her corner. And Miranda has just received the last of a series of letters, predicting that her mother will be a contestant on the $20,000 Pyramid and instructing that one of her friends is in terrible danger. If she wants to save them, and the letter-writer, she'll need to write a letter of her own.
It's rare to find a book that tackles so many issues without becoming bogged down and cluttered. Miranda is a latch-key kid who is just becoming more aware of who she is as a person, her social status, and just how alone she is without her friend Sal. Her story mixes elements of science fiction, mystery, historical fiction, and explores different types of friendship and how it changes as we age. She also struggles with her mother, often wishing for a more "adult" parent and comparing her with her friends' parents.
The chapters are served up in bite-sized portions, keeping the reading quick, light, and difficult to put down. I really loved the $20,000 Pyramid tribute in each chapter title - as I finished a chapter, I'd turn back to see what the title had been (Things that you hide, Things that bounce, etc.). I also loved the setting. This felt perfect being in the 1970s, raising issues that you might not get in a more current setting, but still very relevant.
I've already started recommending this book to friends and coworkers. It's definitely worth picking up and reading!(less)
Time to further broaden my steampunk horizons! I'm finally reading Girl Genius. I read Phil & Dixie when I was in high school and in the ever-popu...moreTime to further broaden my steampunk horizons! I'm finally reading Girl Genius. I read Phil & Dixie when I was in high school and in the ever-popular Alternate Reality club... a group for gamers. It took me awhile to make the connection between the gaming comic and Girl Genius, but I was thrilled when I finally figured it out.
Girl Genius is the story of Agatha Clay, a long lost member of the Heterodyne family, folklore heroes and amazingly talented Sparks (think mad science geniuses, but not necessarily evil). Agatha has no idea of her heritage, as she is a klutz and can't build a working clank to save her life. When her brooch is stolen, her favorite professor killed, and Baron Wulfenbach takes control of her town and university, Agatha experiences a major breakthrough in her abilities... but only while she's asleep. Soon she is whisked away to Castle Wulfenbach, part of a floating armada of dirigibles. She must contend with monsters, the baron's son, a crazed guardian construct, and a hero intent on having her as his sidekick.
Yes, this comic is just about as crazy as it sounds. But it's also lots of fun, with plenty of humor and Agatha running around in her underwear. You can read the entire comic online, or start with individual books. I think it's a great comic for people looking for a strong heroine, some sci-fi/fantasy, or, like me, want to expand their steampunk horizons!(less)
This is, in my opinion, one of the funniest volumes of Girl Genius. I love Castle Heterodyne... I love Castle Heterodyne's skewed logic and twisted me...moreThis is, in my opinion, one of the funniest volumes of Girl Genius. I love Castle Heterodyne... I love Castle Heterodyne's skewed logic and twisted memory... "I can kill people in the sky! - Yay! Do that! Kill everyone in the sky!" This also has Gil's amazing new hat, declaring him to be a Schmott Guy! And then there's the epic stage battle between Gil and Zeetha, with a spork gun and the walking cage! And Mamma Gkika!!! If you haven't read Girl Genius before, none of that will make any sense, but that just means you should hustle over to Girl Genius Online and start reading. Go! Now!(less)
I'll be honest - I picked this up because I saw that Death from the Sandman series was featured in an issue. But this story was awesome on its own. Th...moreI'll be honest - I picked this up because I saw that Death from the Sandman series was featured in an issue. But this story was awesome on its own. The artwork is beautiful and now I'm a fan of Amy Reeder Hadley - it reminds me a bit of the artwork for Runaways (early on). Anyways, I was not familiar with Madame Xanadu or the Phantom Stranger before picking this collection up. Now I'm all set to continue following the series. (less)
Princess Talia has spent her life being warned to avoid spindles, all because of a witch's curse. But how is she to avoid one when when she doesn't ev...morePrincess Talia has spent her life being warned to avoid spindles, all because of a witch's curse. But how is she to avoid one when when she doesn't even know what a spindle looks like? When willful Talia ditches her governess to find the perfect dress for her 16th birthday, she finds out just what a spindle is.... Flash forward 300 hundred years and Jack has spent the last three weeks on a dull tour of Europe. When he and his friend ditch the tour for a trip to the beach, they stumble across Talia's kingdom and the sleeping princess. Jack wakes her, but both quickly realize that this is not true love. However, Talia is desperate to travel and escape a kingdom that will surely be furious with her when they realize 300 years have passed. She leaves with Jack to go to Florida, his home, and plans to make Jack fall for her, because only true love will actually break the witch's curse.
This was an intriguing retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. While it seemed to start a bit slowly, once Talia and Jack step out into the present time and begin to interact, the story takes off. Both characters evolve, a touch too quickly, as they begin to see themselves through the other's eyes. Jack abandons his "party boy" attitude and finally acknowledges the things he cares about, including his parents' opinions. Talia changes from a stubborn, self-centered princess, and takes joy in helping Jack and his family rebuild their relationships. This all takes place over the course of several days, which is fairly implausible... though is it more so than waking a 316-year-old princess with a kiss? For any fans of retellings or light romances, this is a fun read.(less)
This hefty little book only takes about an hour to read, and it's so worth it! Cyril Pedrosa's artwork is incredible. Each panel feels full of movemen...moreThis hefty little book only takes about an hour to read, and it's so worth it! Cyril Pedrosa's artwork is incredible. Each panel feels full of movement; it's easy for the images to come to life. The characters are cartoonish, yet they convey muscle and hair and sometimes just overall sliminess (for the "less morale" ones you meet along the way).
It's hard not to just talk about the art, but really, this is an awesome story. Young Joachim lives on a farm with his mother and father, leading a sweet and simple life (isn't that what farms are always like in books?). Then one night, Joachim sees three shadows on the hill, and everything changes. The three shadows continue to haunt the family, always lurking. When Joachim's mother realizes that this omen is something they must accept, the boy's father takes him and leaves in an effort to escape the shadows. We follow them on their journey
At the end of the story, we learn some of the background as to why Pedrosa wrote this book. It's a powerful story about enjoying what time we have with those we love, as well as the length a parent is willing to go to protect their child. (less)
This book was just wonderful. I'm having such a difficult time finding things to say about it besides the fact that it was amazing. It's sweet without...moreThis book was just wonderful. I'm having such a difficult time finding things to say about it besides the fact that it was amazing. It's sweet without ever being saccharine. There's hilarious moments (I loved the ghouls), sad and scary moments, and the ending is just right, leaving you hoping for another book *please please*. I have to agree with Leila, this book feels very similar to Sandman, but without some of the horror content. Adult themes lurk around the edges of the story - after all, this is about growing up - and there are plenty of frightening characters in and out of the graveyard (mostly out). The characters are all so full of life (forgive the pun) - all around, this book was amazing.
I have to say that the audio version of this is just brilliant. I listened to Neil Gaiman read Coraline, and he did a great job there - but this blows that reading out of the water. The characters, the accents, everything is so developed, you forget you're listening to just one person reading. Just listen to the chapter with the ghouls and Miss Lupescu and Bod's adventures through the ghoul gate... you'll be hooked! I know I'm going to have to check out the paper copy of the book, to peak at Dave McKean's illustrations, but I'm going to be recommending the audio version to everyone. (less)
After reading the rest of the series, my opinion of this book has gone up quite a bit. It really sets the stage for the story of Cathan and Beldyn. If...moreAfter reading the rest of the series, my opinion of this book has gone up quite a bit. It really sets the stage for the story of Cathan and Beldyn. If you've ever read any of the Dragonlance series, you've most likely heard about the Kingpriest and the fiery mountain that was dropped onto Istar as punishment for his demands upon the gods. Well, this is the series that fleshes that out and its probably one of the best crafted of the Dragonlance series.
Chris Pierson incorporates elements of gaming into his stories while also reconciling those elements with the DL folklore (which sometimes varies a great deal from traditional D&D). He also breathes life into characters that have become almost goofy caricatures... Fistandantilus and Beldinas, the Kingpriest. Here we see why Beldinas was so awe-inspiring - and you wonder how it all goes so wrong. We also see that Fistandantilus was cruel, powerful, and calculating wizard... Pierson doesn't shy away from gore that you normally don't find in DL books. But the best character, by far, is Cathan, a young man who throws away his faith when his family is almost completely wiped out by disease and he must resort to life as a bandit. Cathan's role in the story of Istar is much larger than you would ever suspect.
I really enjoyed this series and was actually a little surprised at it. The opening is definitely dry... maybe a little too much description of the opulence of Istar and the fabulous feasts for me. But as things get moving and we see how Beldyn came into power, the story will start to grab you. This was, for me, the weakest of the trilogy, but it was still a good book.(less)
When Elayne's father asks her to read a story the night before he goes into the hospital, she grudgingly agrees. It's a fantasy, about maids and unico...moreWhen Elayne's father asks her to read a story the night before he goes into the hospital, she grudgingly agrees. It's a fantasy, about maids and unicorns, but it's also a family history. Elayne is the descendant of a girl who promised to help a unicorn, should he need it. And suddenly Elayne is swept into a world of magical beasts, hunts, and a dangerous ruler determined to whip out the few unicorns left. It may be her destiny, but Elayne has no idea how to tame a unicorn or defeat a king.
Though fans of fantasy may enjoy this story, Humphreys' writing is clunky and the characters are one-dimensional. Elayne brings a modern teen's sensibilities to a medieval setting (we hear about how much her dress starts to stink after a few days, that she has no clue how to ride a horse, and how disgusting the food is - mostly meat and wine), and there are some funny parts to the story. We get a few chapters as told by Moonspill, an aging unicorn, and I enjoyed his perspective, but it wasn't enough to save this book. I would recommend it for upper elementary, except the author threw in a few colorful phrases that seemed entirely out of place. If you have a high demand for books with unicorns, perhaps get this, but it's not a must-have.(less)