Posts tagged with "review"

Posted by emather on 09/16/13
 
 
 
“Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”
 
 
The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the newest book from acclaimed author Neil Gaiman (the Sandman comics, The Graveyard Book, Coraline, American Gods, two of the very best episodes of Doctor Who, and a zillion more awesome things). It is told in the form of a flashback, where the narrator (never named in the book) sits and remembers incidents from his childhood that had been long forgotten. He recalls an adventure he had after meeting his neighbor, Lettie Hempstock, who claimed that the pond behind her house was in fact an ocean.  Lettie, along with her mother and grandmother, while loving and welcoming, are also magical and mysterious (like the body of water in their backyard).  They lead the seven-year-old narrator on an adventure that begins wondrous and enchanting, but becomes increasingly fraught with peril and foreboding.  Soon, his life, family, and in fact all of existence become endangered.

Gaiman’s narrator, a major bookworm, explains of his preference for myths over tales of other sorts: “They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children stories. They were better than that. They just were.” Gaiman has written books for the very young and books for adults, but all have an almost timeless and ageless quality to them, and Ocean is no different. At under 200 pages, the book is a quick read, and while it’s currently marketed for adults, it’s perfect for teens.  In fact, it’s perfect for anyone who’s searching for a fantasy book filled with the requisite magic and monsters, a story where terrifying beasties intrude on the quiet English countryside, or those looking to relive their childhood while realizing that you never really can, and probably shouldn’t.

Posted by red_sonya on 02/07/14
                                                                       
 
Drawings don’t normally move but Katie swears the mysterious Tomohiro’s drawings just did. Katie, an American girl, is a world away from home in Japan, still adjusting to the language barrier and culture gap. When Katie gets involved with the intriguing and sometimes dangerous Tomohiro and his moving drawings, her life changes forever. She is left wondering why the ink is seemingly drawn to her all while learning about Kami (Shinto Gods) and dodging the Yakuza (a Japanese gang).
 
 
This is a book full of Japanese mythology, danger, with a dash of romance. As an avid manga reader, I felt like Ink could easily be made into one; as the plot is very similar to many shojo mangas. The book has many images within it that coincides with what you are reading. There are many Japanese words you learn through out Ink (there is a glossary in the back to explain them so don’t worry!). This book is wonderful for those Japanophiles out there. It gives a good look at what life is like living in a foreign country, dealing with the different culture, and their everyday lives.
 
 
Ink was a very quick read; it’s very intriguing, and gripping. I thoroughly enjoyed and it and will be purchasing it for my own collection at home. The book does end on a cliffhanger and sadly the next book, Rain, doesn’t come out till June this year (which I have on preorder already).
 
There is also a prequel to Ink, called Shadow, which is available for free on Amazon!
 

Posted by red_sonya on 02/24/14
                                                        
 
 
Insanity is a gripping page turner, full of suspense. Taking place in Never, Kentucky and the medical facility/mental institution called Lincoln. Lincoln isn’t your average medical facility, the dead never seem to fully rest here. Lincoln is a gateway to the other-side, and might even be a living being itself. Four kids whose lives intertwine are all pulled into Lincoln’s mysterious, sometimes terrifying ways. Together they go on a journey full of ghosts, shades, and other supernatural beings, and find their lives drastically changed.

I found this book to be a thrilling read. I simply couldn’t put it down. The author does a fantastic job of making you connect to the characters. The book is told in four different parts, each part another kid, and all connected. I enjoyed reading the same progressing story line but told through the different points of views, and their own voices.I did think the book could have ended earlier, but I did like the ending the author chose.
 
For a supernatural read I found this book to be an exciting one. I felt the fear and terror that the characters were feeling. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good ghost story.
 
 

Posted by alice on 04/16/13
Raven Boys Book Cover
Have you ever been to a psychic?  Well, I've only been once, and it was a very surreal experience.  You go in, and if you're a skeptic like me, you try and not believe anything the psychic tells you.  I mean, are they really for real?  Really?  Really?  With the internet and Google Glass becoming a reality, what if the psychic is just doing some crazy web researching while you're sitting there?  Skeptic or not, it really is a thrilling experience and you get chills if anything the psychic says rings even close to home.  (You're right, I do know a person named John Smith!)
 
Well, in the world of The Raven Boys, psychics are real.  Like real.  Real.
 
No one knows this better than Blue Sargent, a high schooler who comes from a family of psychics.  Her mother is a psychic, her aunt is a psychic, but Blue doesn't seem to have the same third sight as the rest of her family.  That doesn't mean she doesn't know what's coming for her though.  She's told some pretty bad news: "If Blue was to kiss her true love, he would die."  Serious bummer.
 
When her mysterious aunt comes to town, she tells Blue some even more troubling news: "This is the year you'll fall in love."  Double bummer.
 
Blue initially isn't so worried by these dark omens.  I mean, obviously she wishes it wasn't the case, but she basically resigns herself to live a life without falling for anyone, and definitely not to kiss anyone she thinks she's falling for.  But things get difficult when she befriends a group of wealthy boys, known as the Raven Boys, from the local swanky, private school called Aglionby.  She quickly comes to realize that it's definitely fate that brings her and these boys together, which may mean the end of one of their lives.
 
The Raven Boys is an eerie story full of mystery, unsettling coincidences, and magic.  It isn't just a story about Blue and the love she may or may not kill either!  Each of the Raven Boys has an interesting backstory that makes you realize that money is something, but it isn't everything.  Some of these Raven Boys are born with privilege, some make themselves privileged, and some will do anything for privilege.
 
This book is the first in a series and the twist ending will leave you antsy for the second one!

Posted by Trixie on 12/18/13
I'm just damned. I am utterly and completely damned. You'll shoot me at the end no matter what I do, because that's what you do to enemy agents. It's what we do to enemy agents. After I write this confession, if you don't shoot me and I ever make it home, I'll be tried and shot as a collaborator anyway. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and this is the easy one, the obvious one. What's in my future - a tin of kerosene poured down my throat and a match held to my lips?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is an expressive novel set during World War II. Verity, a secret agent, is captured by the Gestapo and “convinced” to reveal her mission. Verity explores her past, how she came to be a spy, and how she arrived in Nazi-occupied France in her written confession. Verity is battling for her life as she fills sheet after sheet followed by random scraps of paper. As her intricate story unfolds, readers are left to wonder whether her detailed confession will be enough to save her life.
 
To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been one to enjoy historical fiction. I’d much rather read factual or personal accounts related to an event or time period. Well, I absolutely LOVED this book! Wein weaves a beautiful tale of desperation, courage, and friendship. The novel is written in journal-style from Verity’s and her pilot friend Kittyhawk’s points of view. Through these characters’ perilous journeys, readers experience the heartache and anxiety of friends and family separated during wartime. The harrowing tale pits evil against a clever, would-be traitor. I HIGHLY recommend this book – you won’t be disappointed!
 
 

Posted by emather on 10/21/13
"I love you," he said.
She looked up at him, her eyes shiny and black, then looked away. "I know," she said.
He pulled one of his arms out from under her and traced her outline against the couch. he could spend all day like this, running his hand down her ribs, into her waist, out to her hips and back again...If he had all day, he would. If she weren't made of so many other miracles.
"You know?" he repeated. She smiled, so he kissed her. "You're not the Han Solo in this relationship, you know."
"I'm totally the Han Solo," she whispered. It was good to hear her. It was good to remember it was Eleanor under all this new flesh.
"Well, I"m not the Princess Leia," he said.
"Don't get so hung up on gender roles," Eleanor said.
 
Eleanor is a smart but shy outcast, struggling with enough personal and family problems to fill three after-school specials, the least of which is starting a new school. Park’s issues are less dramatic, but he still struggles with fitting in and getting along with his parents.  The two are forced to sit together on the bus, and end up bonding over comics, music, and a dislike for the idiots who also ride their bus.  Soon they form an unlikely friendship, and eventually a romantic relationship blossoms, though not without ever-growing complications.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is a romance for people who don’t like romances.  (It’s still really good if you like romances, too.)  The novel boasts funny-but-realistic dialog and incredibly likeable characters.  The two narrators are so three-dimensional that you feel you’ve known them for years; it’s less like reading a romance and closer to simply watching two good friends discover how cool and amazing you already know they each are. On top of that, it features some of the steamiest hand-holding scenes put to paper. Seriously, it’s like the Fifty Shades of Grey of holding hands. (If you really think about it, though, holding hands is pretty steamy if you really like the hand you’re holding.)
 
The novel deals with issues of bullying and difficult family circumstances in very honest and direct ways, with all of the tough language and mature situations that those entail.  Because of this frankness, the book and its author garnered some extra attention last month, facing challenges in a Minnesota school district which ironically enough became news during Banned Books Week. It’s this honesty that makes the book so refreshing, though.  It’s the ability of Eleanor & Park (both the book and characters) to find happiness and connection in the midst of all the ugliness that life can throw at us that lifts the book above standard romantic cliché and become something simultaneously funny, honest, and beautifully life-affirming.
 

Posted by Trixie on 09/26/13
The shelves were packed close together, and it felt like I was standing at the border of a forest – not a friendly California forest, either, but an old Transylvanian forest, a forest full of wolves and witches and dagger-wielding bandits all waiting just beyond moonlight’s reach. There were ladders that clung to the shelves and rolled side to side. Usually those seem charming, but here, stretching up in to the gloom, they were ominous. They whispered rumors of accidents in the dark.

Clay Jannon is an unemployed marketer and web designer. His days are spent surfing the web unsuccessfully obtaining employment. That is until he comes across Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore a narrow, vertigo-inspiring bookstore packed with books on its skyscraper shelves. Mr. Penumbra hires the new night clerk on the spot. Clay didn’t know that the course of his life would change that afternoon. It only takes him a couple of days to notice peculiarities with the business and its clientele. Clay and his new love interest Kat delve into the world of a 500 year old secret society called the Unbroken Spine.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore explores the tension between new technology and old, digital versus print, working out a problem longhand instead of relying on computer assistance. Clay, his friends, and Google through employee Kat try to help Mr. Penumbra solve an age-old mystery using modern technology. Robin Sloan cleverly weaves fantasy and reality to construct an adventure tale that engages readers and makes them cheer for the ragtag bunch of codebreakers. Throughout the novel, Clay calls upon his friends, actual and virtual, to help him uncover the treasure coveted by the Unbroken Spine for centuries. This is a quick read, definitely worth checking out…AND the cover glows in the dark!

Posted by Trixie on 11/27/13
Okay, we have less than two weeks to turn a robot that picks things up into a robot that kills other robots.
 
Chainsaws, people, we need chainsaws!


The graphic novel Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong follows a ragtag group of high schoolers on their journey to a robot rumble. Charlie is the captain of the basketball team. Nate is his best friend and the president of the school’s robotics team. Holly is head cheerleader and Charlie’s ex-girlfriend. When school funding comes up short, student council must choose whether the robotics team will attend the national robotics competition or if the cheerleaders will get new uniforms for the national cheerleading championship. Naturally, Charlie is pulled into the drama in the midst of dealing with his own problems. Eventually, the characters must set aside their differences and work together to battle in a Thanksgiving robotics competition that will get both the robotics team and cheerleading squad to nationals.

Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks present a funny, heartwarming, and realistic story about dealing with high school cliques, camaraderie, competition, and friendship. Shen’s writing is an authentic portrayal of interactions between the teenage characters. The story is quick-paced and engaging. Hicks’ illustrations capture the characters’ personalities and sense of movement throughout the book. The humor of the novel comes from characters expressions and robot demolition conveyed by the artwork.

This is a great read for anyone – it’s a perfect Thanksgiving story to pass the time while you digest your turkey dinner!

Posted by tspicer on 02/27/14
 
If you still haven't placed a hold on Boxers or Saints yet after watching the above clip, I'll try and convince you now. I've only read Saints, but it was so uniquely told, informative, funny and horrifying, that I am eagerly waiting to read Boxers. The Boxer Rebellion occurred in China over 100 years ago and this 2-volume set of graphic novels by Printz award winning author and illustrator Gene Luen Yang, sheds light on the complicated events of this bloody period of the world's past. Yet the genius of this book is that it makes these events that happened such a long time ago seem vivid, understandable and totally engrossing as the author crafts genuinely believable characters, whom the reader ends up caring greatly about their plights.
 
China at this time was weakened and the government in shambles. European missionaries began to emerge and flex their influence throughout the country and the result was a nationalism-inspired backlash by the 'Boxers' against these 'Saints'.

Bloodshed and chaos ensued.

It all sounds so violent and terrible and certainly at times it is. But the story is filled with humor, as the character's facial expressions are so expressive, including the young teenage protagonist, an unwanted fourth-born daughter named ... (ahem) 'Four Girl'. Four Girl is a Chinese Christian teenager who struggles with her faith. She hatches all types of odd plans to cope with the confusion and turmoil surrounding her, including my favorite plan of hers: in order to be feared and respected, she walks around endlessly with her "devil face" on. This face needs to be seen to be believed and is laugh out loud funny. Four Girl's struggles with her faith and whose side to fight for, come across as gut-wrenching, endearing and are acutely conveyed. Teens, adults should all dive into this amazing work of art.