Monday, December 27, 2010

Midwinter's Eve WINNER and a new giveaway coming soon!

Congratulations to:


for winning their choice of book from the Book Depository!
Now for my next giveaway!

It's another hop... and if you want to join in, there is still time... just go here:

And enter your information!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

REVIEW: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

by Suzanne Collins

NOTE! If you have not read The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, this will reveal spoilers for the first books!

With her home destroyed and Peeta missing, Katniss wakes up to find herself a resident of the fabled District 13. Unfortunately, the district isn't all its cracked up to be, and Katniss finds herself feeling more trapped than ever. Not to mention that those who escaped with her seem to be slowly losing their minds while she's being forced into the role of Mockingjay.

Character Likability:
Katniss: Have I mentioned my love for the character, Katniss? I love this girl. She's strong, she marches to her own drum, she learns from her mistakes, she fights for what she believes in, she gets broken, as any real person would in her situation... but she allows herself to be mended.  In this book, Katniss grows and learns yet again. She's beginning to see the bigger plan, she's beginning to understand that some things never end, no matter how hard you fight... she's pushed to, and past, the point of breaking, and yet, she persists in trying to reach her goal. She is an amazing character... and what makes her so amazing is that she does all of these amazing things... and remains believable. She is filled with just as much questioning and doubt as any of us.
Peeta: Absent for a good portion of the book... and then returned... Peeta breaks my heart in this book... and then in pure Peeta fashion, he mends it again.
Haymitch: During this book, you're left wondering what, exactly, Haymitch's motives are.
Cinna: Despite not physically being in the book, Cinna is still a very motivating character. His Mockingjay outfit is a major reason Katniss takes up the mantle.
Prim and her Mother: Used, once again, mainly as motivators for Katniss... Prim is given slightly more voice, and acts more as a support for her sister, while the mother still remains mainly out of the picture.
President Snow: Pulling out all the stops in his wicked handbook, President Snow outdoes himself in the evil department.
Finnick: Watching Finnick with Annie is almost heartbreaking, and hearing his story IS heartbreaking. I was glad I got to hear what he had to say. It really drove home the need for this system to be destroyed.
Briggs: The quiet military man from District 13... he turns out to be possibly one of the truest friends Katniss ever has.
President Coin: The president of District 13, she's cold, calculating and not to be trusted.

Quality of Writing:
Easy, quick flow. Engaging and un-put-downable. (oh yeah, I'm making up words now)

Bittersweet, believable.

District 12 has been destroyed, most of the people Katniss knew, dead. She, along with a few others, including her family and Gale, have been whisked off to District 13 to live underground. At this point, Katniss is starting to lose it. People she loved dearly are dead, most notably, Cinna, her designer from the Hunger Games. Peeta is in the hands of the Capitol and all Katniss can do is imagine the worst. Then, the video interviews with Peeta begin, and he's telling people to stop the rebellion... and Katniss knows she still has to save him... now from District 13 as well, who sees him as a traitor... and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
This plot really delves into the political motivations and the extent to which those in power will try to retain it. It's harsh, cruel and believable... which makes it all the more terrifying. The plot of this book is deep, twisted and worthy of more than just a casual read. The ideas being presented here really beg for, and deserve some deep thought on the part of the reader.

Believability of World:
The most believable yet. It really points out that it's often hard to tell the difference between good and evil.

Overall Grade: A

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

GIVEAWAY MidWinter's Eve Blog Hop!

Sorry for the delay! I set it to go at a certain time... and evidently did it wrong!

I will be giving away one book from The Book Depository! (up to a $15 limit)

 Just become a follower and leave a comment with an email for me to contact you!

REVIEW: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

 Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins

NOTE! If you have not read The Hunger Games, this will reveal spoilers for the first book!

Katniss and Peeta, against all odds, have survived The Hunger Games, thanks to a bit of cleverness on Katniss' part. Unfortunately, the Capitol viewed her actions as an outright act of defiance, sparking political and social unrest among the districts. Then, to top it all off, it's time for the Quarter Quell, a special Hunger Game held every 25 years... and this years is set to be a doozy.

Character Likability:
Katniss: Still amazingly dense when it comes to the boys in her life, Katniss has bigger things to worry about. I appreciate that the love stories that, in so many YA novels take over, are back-burner material in these books thanks to the fact that Katniss is able to recognize that some things are just bigger than her. This time around she's faced with more tough choices, more having to deal with pretending to love Peeta while he truly loves her, and more worrying about the future. She's finding out that there are repercussions to defying the powers that be.
Peeta: Still in love. Still hopelessly in love... and yet, when he disagrees with Katniss, he will make his voice heard. Always the voice of compassion, logic and reason... Peeta remains both true to himself and true to those he loves the most.
Haymitch: Less active in this novel during certain points, but more potent as a character... and as a father-type figure for Katniss.
Cinna: Still working as Katniss' stylist, he creates more beautiful works for her to parade around in... unfortunately, this time he might have gone one step too far.
Prim and her Mother: Living in the Victor's Village with Katniss, these two remain to be her main motivators. To protect her family is the most important thing to Katniss... and her family, in return, offers her the support she needs, when they can.
President Snow: Made even more villianous this time around... he exposes himself as a truly frightening human being and does things that are beyond unforgivable... as if the Games weren't enough.
Finnick: A District 4 Tribute winner... sexy, smooth, absolutely hilarious. He quickly became possibly my favorite character in the books along with Haymitch, Cinna and Katniss.

Quality of Writing:
I couldn't put it down... and part of that has to do with the ease with which the words flowed.

Horrible, terrible, awful cliffhanger ending that had me running, scrambling, racing to find the last book. You CANNOT put this book down and not NEED to pick up the next one. If you can, well... my brain just doesn't compute that.

This book takes the tragedies of the first game, and Katniss and Peeta's act of defiance at the end of it, and starts to expand on the political unrest they've caused.
As they make their Victory tour, they are greeted with blatant, public signs of rebellion by the people, especially in District 11, where little Rue was from.
Katniss is haunted mostly by Rue, but also by the gruesome, slow death of Caro... as well as the others. She can barely sleep and feels like the puppet the Capitol has made her into.
Not only that, but she has been threatened by President Snow. She must make him believe that she and Peeta are in love, otherwise, those dear to her will pay.

Believability of World:
Not only believable, but building on the world introduced in the first book. This one really starts to introduce the political motivations behind things, and makes them all the more real. It also really brings home the fact that Katniss has realized that the situation is out of her control, and that the question of who to trust is an almost impossible one to answer.

Overall Grade: A

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Blogger Hop, Follow Friday and a movie review

Book Blogger Hop
Click the picture to join in

"What do you consider the 
most important in a story: 
the plot or the characters?"
 Hmm, an interesting question... and I'm going to have to go with plot.
I have read stories where I HATE the main character, but because the plot was so interesting to me I kept reading (the first few books in the Anita Blake series) but I have never continued with a story whose plot I just couldn't get into.

What did you study in college, or are currently studying and did it lead to your current 9 to 5 or are you doing something totally different?


In college I studied both Photography and Graphic Design. I got my BFA, focusing in photography, and am now a full time graphic designer/photographer for a major corporation. :)

Ok, I haven't done a movie review in quite a while!

Last night... at midnight... I went to see Tron Legacy (why can I only find foreign movie posters for this movie?!)... and honestly, I was shocked by how many people were there. The theater was pretty much packed. 

Now, I don't really have a great system for reviewing movies... so for now I'll just say this.

If you enjoyed the first Tron, this one is that, rehashed, enhanced and with way better graphics (watch for somewhat creepy CG versions of Jeff Bridges... all I could think of when I saw them was Advent Children... I'll be waiting for Mr. Bridges to make his debut alongside Cloud).
The original is still the original... but at no point during this new Tron was I at all bored or tired (and seeing as how I'd only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before, that's saying something).

If you haven't seen the first Tron, though, it might not all make sense, this movie is a true sequel and builds heavily on the plot of the first movie. I would recommend getting your hands on the original and watching... for plot's sake.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games
by Suzanne Collins

Every year at the reaping, two children from each district, one boy, one girl, are chosen to play in The Hunger Games. Forced to battle to the death, only one victor can remain... which is a real problem for Katniss since she owes her fellow District 12 pick, Peeta, an impossible debt.

Character Likability:
Katniss: First off, love her name! Ok, much like Clary in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, Katniss is another girl surrounded by hot guys who seem to love her... and yet, she just doesn't have time for them. I LOVE THIS. Often repulsed at the idea of even having children (because then they'd be forced to play in The Hunger Games too), Katniss often rebukes any claim of love as something she doesn't have time for, and doesn't understand. She's not a cold character though, she's just not a Mary Sue. She, of course, has worthwhile talents, but when it comes to jumping on board the "What's going on" train, Katniss is often the last to figure it out. She figures out her own things in her own time, but she's usually last in figuring out the more complicated stuff... which, for a girl who's only ever had to worry about keeping herself and her family alive, makes perfect sense.
Peeta: A lovely, wonderful baker's son, Peeta is stuck in the middle of his own love story... unfortunately, due to the circumstances, the leading lady isn't falling for it. Doesn't matter though, Peeta knows what he wants and will do anything to protect that.
Haymitch:A former District 12 Hunger Games winner, Haymitch is a perpetual drunk... and Katniss and Peeta's mentor. As soon as he realizes he has a pair of kids who might make it, he puts in a smooth, calculating effort to keep them alive, and even though he's repulsive and spends a good portion of the novel in a puddle of
Cinna: Katniss and Peeta's stylist for the game, he's cool, collected and not nearly as flamboyant as most of the Capitol. He's a major source of support for Katniss, and one of my favorite characters.
Prim and her Mother: Prim is Katniss' little sister and the reason Katniss ended up in the games... and the reason she fights so hard. Katniss' mother was worthless after her husband's death, but brought back by Katniss' strength.
President Snow: Supreme overlord! He's the big baddy in the Capitol, and the one calling all the shots when it comes to quelling rebel uprisings and dictating how things should be run in the districts.
Rue: A small, bird-like child from District 11 that reminds Katniss of Prim.

Quality of Writing:
I found these books easy to read and quick as well. I've heard people complain that there were misplaced commas, but honestly, I remember at one point specifically noting how well placed the commas were.

Cliffhanger of doooooom. If you liked the first book, you'll be so thankful you're reading the series now that it's all out... because honestly, if I had to wait... I might go insane.

Katniss is living in an evil society where every year 24 children are forced to play The Hunger Games until only one is left living.
Truthfully, the plot of the first book seems to have taken heavy notes from a little Japanese thriller called Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. They are the same exact premise... as punishment for bad behavior, and to keep the peasants in-line, the ruling government forces kids to play in a game where they must battle to the death... leaving one victor who then becomes a national hero... and in both books, the main character, of course, is looking desperately for a way out of it, and a way to save someone they love at the same time. The plots really are eerily similar... and while I prefer Koushun Takami's method of announcing the dead in chapter titles, I prefer Collins' extension of this story, where there is the promise of further battle against the powers that be.

Now, I've read quite a few reviews where people have found this plot unbelievable... but, you know what, this doesn't bother me. It's not a book about how the people allowed such a game to begin, it's a book where the game already exists. I found everything that happened within the context of the game to be entirely believable.

And just so no one is confused, this IS a book about children killing children... in the most basic of terms. Beyond that, it's a very interesting, deep, questioning series that makes you really sit back and wonder about the level of betrayal and manipulation and calculation that must be going on around us all the time. It's a book that makes you question and then keeps you questioning.

Believability of World:
I find this world believable. There have been many terrible things that have happened through history... instances where people where sheparded to death, knew it, and did nothing. It's not unbelievable that Katniss' world could exist.

Overall Grade: A

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Guest Review: Daughter of Darkness by V.C. Andrews

Daughter of Darkness
by V.C. Andrews

This will not be my typical review, because I passed this book along to a friend of mine who was an avid V.C. Andrews fan... back when V.C. Andrews was still writing her own books.

She has read everything written by Andrews, as well as through the Logan series, which supposedly, until then the books were still plotted out by notes from Andrews found after she died.

After the Logan series, my friend lost interest, and she only found today that after the Logan series, that's when the ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, took over completely. Coincidence? I think not.

From the very beginning, she found herself bored with the storyline of Daughter of Darkness. About 1/3 of the way into the book, nothing of any great significance had occurred and she was questioning whether it was even worth it to continue on.

She described the writing style as a long, drawn out monologue of inner-angst from the main character... where as the old V.C. Andrews books (you know, the ones actually written by Andrews), while still being from the main girl's perspective, would focus more on other characters as well, and not have so much self centered internalizing.

When she got to the end of the book, she literally flung it back at me and exclaimed, "What kind of ending was that?! What a letdown!" Needless to say, I don't think she liked it much. I could go into detail on what she said, but that would be spoilerific.

She did wonder at the lack of thinking on the other characters parts... feeling they were unintelligent and had no thoughts of their own. That was one thing she appreciated about the main character, who at least seemed to be smarter than the rest of them.

However, as an avid Andrews fan, she neither liked this book, nor felt it lived up to the quality of the books Andrews actually wrote or plotted herself.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Do you enjoy Edward Gorey?

Well, if you do, check out the work of Don Kenn... these are little doodles he does on post-it notes... and for me... well, I can't help but think of Edward Gorey.
You can check out his work HERE!

Monday, December 13, 2010

REVIEW: Book One of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones
by Cassandra Clare

Clary Fray considers herself a normal girl... that is, until she starts seeing some really strange things. People who aren't there, boys with claws for fingers, evil monsters in her own home. Suddenly confronted with a world she'd never known was there... and a boy she never would have imagined could exist... Clary finds herself tripping blindly through situations totally alien to her.

Character Likability:
Clary: I enjoyed Clary... she's a female character who, despite being attracted to Jace, isn't consumed by it, and this is so refreshing it's unbelievable. She has a mission... to save her Mother, and everything else is just kind of bonus for the reader, but not the main focus. Clary is on a set path to do what she feels she needs to do, and she absolutely gains my respect for that. There is no sniveling over dreamy boys... oh sure, there are dreamy boys, but Clary is smart enough to know what matters in life, and to chase after that first.
Honestly, Clary is what Bella from Twilight SHOULD have been... a strong, independent girl who thinks for herself, and thinks about what is important first, and not just how HAWT the guy she's with now is.
Jace: Snarky, good at what he does, and placed in the story to be the obvious love interest, he remains an interesting character. His past is tragic, his upbringing questionable, and his views on what good parenting is are horribly skewed... but, thanks to said tragedy, he was saved from a totally barbaric upbringing and manages to be a somewhat caring, thoughtful guy.
Simon: Clary's "Mundie" friend from school, Simon is obviously in love with her, and has been for years. Honestly, if Clary and Simon don't end up together, I might actually be mad. Thankfully though, while Simon is wrapped up in his own little love triangle angst, Clary just doesn't have time for it... so the love story isn't sickening and overwhelming, but is actually useful to the story... and despite Simon being part of the "love triangle"... he's a useful, interesting, developed character who I want to see more of.
Alec: A newer twist on the love triangle thing, Alec is in love with Jace, but has never told him. Clary realizes this pretty much from the start. Alec is Jace's partner in hunting demons. I appreciate that Alec is not in the running as a potential mate for Clary, because frankly, I find him more interesting than Jace early on and would have chosen him.
Also, just a note... I've noticed a real upswing in homosexual male characters in YA literature... but not an upswing of homosexual female characters. I find that odd. 
(In fact, the only one I can think of recently was in the Anthology Zombies vs. Unicorns)
Now, I'm not talking about books specifically about the trials of being homosexual, I'm talking about extra characters. It seems I've run across quite a few of the gay male friends, but rarely any lesbian ones. It feels like there is a subtle undercurrent saying that male homosexuality is permissible since they can make such good buddies... but female homosexuality is still taboo.
Isabelle: Possibly the least fleshed out main-ish character in this book. I hope she gets more depth later on.
Luke: The obvious "Not what he seems" father-figure... Luke is a character that I was a little disappointed in, just in so far as he wasn't really mysterious. You could see what was happening, and it didn't shock you.
Valentine: A FANTASTIC villian. This man is wicked and evil. He's not cut back or toned down for the kiddies... he's all out there, waving his evil flag around like he's claiming a new world... and he kind of is. He's done terrible things, has a well thought out, elaborate evil plan, and is just wickedly cruel to everyone, even those he should love. I'm very interested to see *why* he became so evil.

Quality of Writing:
This was a fairly fast read for me, so the style wasn't choppy or distracting. There wasn't anything particularly beautiful or poetic about it, it was straight to the point, telling the story as it needed to be told.

Since this is part of a trilogy, it wasn't concluded as far as the BIG story goes... but the ending of this one was satisfying and set you up to want to read more. There was a twist that, while I saw it coming, I was incredibly glad it existed... and there is still a LOT for the main characters to accomplish.

Girl realizes the world isn't what she thinks it is.
Girl gets sucked into new world.
Girl realizes only she can get herself out of this mess.
Girl kicks some arse while still fumbling around and not knowing what she's doing (I really appreciated this, actually).
Girl realizes this is just the tip of the iceburg.

Ok, honestly there's so much more going on than just that. This is a fun, rich story full of layers and magic and we get to discover this new world right along with Clary, and I think knowing what she knows is a wonderful way to do that. I enjoy it, as a reader, when things aren't revealed to me too quickly.

Believability of World:
It's a pretty well thought out alternate version of our world.

Overall Grade: A-

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fear not!

I am still around... I have chosen a winner for my giveaway... but... I'm in the middle of a move and can't find anything!!!!!

I think I'm losing my mind. XD

Book review soon though :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

REVIEW: The Poison Diaries

 The Poison Diaries
by The Duchess of Northumberland
Illustrations by Colin Stimpson

Weed is an orphan, taken in by the local Apothocary and taught the ways of medicine. One day, a world of poison plants is revealed to him... but... what's this? The plants can talk... and boy-oh-boy do they have things to say.

Character Likability:
Weed: Weed is... a bit... er, touched in the head. He's not quite right, and as the book progresses, you see as much. He's an interesting, dark character.
The Plants: Wicked, evil and with one track minds... and yet, not wicked and evil because all they are truly doing is utilizing their own defense mechanisms. Truly they are hellbent against humans though... and truly revel in the demise of them.
The Apothocary: Awful man. He's meant to be, though, so he's a good character.
Marigold: An Innocent, and pretty vague... she shows up in passing and is what roots Weed to a life of non-evil.

Quality of Writing:
Very interesting story... at times, I felt the story was a little jumpy... the main character waffling between good and bad without any really good reason... but overall it was cohesive and fast flowing.

A very dark, disturbing ending. I enjoy dark and disturbing, so I liked it, but I'm not sure this ending, or this book would be something everyone can handle. If you are disturbed by gore, horrible deaths, and them being both described and illustrated... I would recommend you pass on this book all together.

Essentially, this is the story of a young boy slowly going mad. It's dark, disturbing, filled with awful deaths, horrible murders and the worst side of humanity. *I* found it fascinating... I especially found it fascinating that I found this book in the Children's section. It has detailed diagrams of VERY poisonous plants... diagrams that proceed to point out which parts are the poisonous ones, and how to use them to kill people. It also has vivid descriptions of how the poisons act on the body, and in what horrible ways they will make you die. Interestingly, it also tells you how they are used medicinally.
In this story, Weed (the boy) talks to the plants, and the book itself is broken down into short stories based on which plant he's talking to. Each plant is hilarious, and has it's own distinct personality... and tells Weed some terrible story of how it helped kill someone. Often it is accompanied by very graphic illustrations (I bought the book because I opened up to this page randomly:

 and wondering just what kind of kids book this was!!)  Turns out, its a book I'm not sure I'd ever give to an actual child... and a book that might possibly be rather dangerous in the hands of most adults. I personally think this book is dark, twisted, and fantastic... but it most certainly isn't for those with weak stomachs or low tolerance for *really* horrible things happening.

Believability of World:
It seems to be set in 'olden days' ... and I'm not sure how hard it is today to track some of these poisons.

This book is beautiful. Hands down one of the prettiest books I've seen in a while, despite its content. The illustrator is a Disney artist who has worked on things like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Emperor's New Groove and Tinkerbell. The illustrations are top-notch and seriously beautiful, even when they're absolutely disturbing.

Overall Grade: A (SERIOUSLY, if you don't like graphic violence, don't read this book. It depicts, as you can see, vomiting and horrible death, and describes them vividly in the text) 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Giveaway... November 17th through November 28th

 Join me for November's Gratitude Giveaway! 
There are over 175 blogs participating!

Here is what I'm giving away!
A hardcover copy of... 

And here are the RULES:

1. You MUST be a follower
2. You MUST Fill out this FORM

Please take time to stop by the other wonderful giveaways!


This little happy gnome is here to let you know that I'm still around... still reading, albeit slower than usual... due to moving!

In about a week... expect things to resume as per usual :) OH!  But there will be a giveaway starting on November 17th (That's tomorrow!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

REVIEW: The Clarence Principle by Fehed Said, art by Shari Chankhamma

  The Clarence Principle
by Fehed Said, art by Shari Chankhamma

Clarence is a suicide, and finds himself in a strange, Wonderland-like afterlife where he's still seeking answers and looking for closure to the events that caused  him to end his real life.

Character Likability:
Some of the characters in this story were downright cute in a very goofy, stupid sort of way. The main character was ok, but not my favorite... and most of the women in this story just annoyed me.

Quality of Writing:
It flowed easily, but because of the nature of the story, and the fact that the afterlife is supposed to appear strange and perhaps a bit disjointed, the story itself didn't always flow together easily... and you found yourself jumping from one scene to another, often rather abruptly.

I'm not sure how I feel, or what I think of the ending. In the end, essentially, he ends up following someone else's heart... and I'm not sure how I feel about the treatment of the afterlife... I mean, the kid is surrounded by demons, I can only assume he's in some sort of version of Hell... and yet, it seems like he's passing through, not about to be a resident. The story ends up leaving almost all of its questions unanswered, except for the one, "Can the dead die?".

The story asks questions like "Can the dead die?" and makes me think that the author spends a lot of time dwelling on being forgotten, and being able to forget. This is essentially the aftermath of a tragic love story that we really get to see no part of. Things obviously didn't go well for Clarence... and yet he gets a chance, in this demonic afterlife, to redeem himself to a degree. He helps those he comes across, and in the end, helps himself. There is a reoccurring theme of pink water flowing throughout this world, and I think at one point it's tied in to Clarence realizing what he'd done to himself... but seeing as how its a black and white comic... the pink water was perhaps not quite as prevalent as it could have been. I think it would have been something much better seen and not always spoken about.

Illustration Quality:
I actually really liked the dark, gritty, smudged illustrations in here. They reminded me of the old Nightmares and Fairytales comics... which I miss dearly... and admittedly, it was the art style that made me pick this one up. My only complaint would be the strange, ram horn style ears that the characters have.

Believability of World:
I struggled constantly trying to balance this afterlife with what I know of Dante's Inferno. The story hinted just enough at Dante's for me to be annoyed by the inconsistencies. That, and you don't really get a good feel for how the world works. Things seem to happen solely to benefit the character without really adhering to any over-arcing plan for the world itself.

Overall Grade: C

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

REVIEW: St. Lunatic High School, Volume 1

   St. Lunatic High School
by Majiko!
** I find this 2 manga series to be adorable and funny, and usually like to
pick it up for a reread around Halloween**

Niko's brother, Atchan, gets a real job teaching a night class at a school called St. Lunatic (why doesn't that raise suspicion?!) They are promised a home with a bathroom and garden... only to find out that what was meant was the house (if you can call it that) is on school grounds, and they are allowed to use the restroom in the school.

Sadly, though, after fleeing their last abode without paying, this is the best these siblings have got. However, what Niko didn't realize... what her brother might have forgotten to mention, was that the night class at St. Lunatic was filled with monsters.

Character Likability:
The characters in this manga are goofy, quirky, cute and endearing. At times, I suspect if I were watching the anime version (if there even is one) they might be terribly annoying... but being written on paper, their over-reactions and disbelief are really quite endearing.

Quality of Writing:
There is nothing in the manga that seems strange or out of place, the translator did an excellent job.

This is a 2 manga series that, in and of itself, is a bit episodic even within the short volume of one manga. The manga did end on a humorous note, dealing with the poor situation of Niko and Atchan... and how they can never quite catch a break. It was a closed enough ending that the series could have stopped there without anyone feeling too dissatisfied, but thankfully there is another volume... and I truly wish this quirky manga was more than just two volumes long.

The main plot here is that Niko has to adapt to her new life at St. Lunatic. She makes the effort, despite being constantly razzed by her rather bizarre classmates, for the sake of her brother, who has never held a job longer than a week (thus their issue with having no money). Oh sure, she still thinks her fellow classmates are weird as heck, but she finds ways to relate and cope with their bad behavior.
There are other things going on here as well, such as a strained father/son relationship between one of Niko's classmates and his dad, the reoccuring issue of hunger, starvation, and this interesting, Boxeresque notion that if you just work harder then everything will be ok.

Illustration Quality:
I LOVE the illustrations in this book. The characters are adorable, and the artist really has expressions down well... Niko goes through such a constantly changing array of facial expressions that it is endlessly entertaining. Proportions are well done, line quality is lovely, and detail is amazing.

Believability of World:
Despite the fantastic nature of the creatures and things going on around Niko, her world is believable because it remains consistently against her and her brother, lol!

Overall Grade: B+

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Go on over to Breaking The Spine to add yourself to Waiting on Wednesday!

This week I am waiting on:

Slice of Cherry 
by Dia Reeves

This book looks devious, delicious and all around interesting!

Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.
It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities….

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

REVIEW: Matched

by Ally Condie

Cassia is happy and content with her life in the Society... and she's ready to be Matched to the man she will marry... and when her best friend Xander shows up as her match, she thinks everything has fallen into place... but really, that's just when everything starts to fall apart. Everyone who is Matched gets a media card with information about their match to take home... but when Cassia tries to read hers, another face appears, one that isn't Xander's... one of another boy she knows... and then, on top of that, Cassia's Grandfather leaves her with more questions than she's ever had before when he passes... and he leaves her with another gift too... a forbidden one. Now Cassia needs to figure out what she wants from life... does she want to let the Society dictate everything, or will she listen to her Grandfather and her heart?

Character Likability:
Cassia: She's a strong, willful, intelligent girl who knows what she wants. I enjoyed her character because following her was akin to watching someone wake up from a deep sleep... there were things around her that she'd turned a blind eye to without thinking about it... because that's what everyone did... but when her eyes are opened by her Grandfather... she realizes how strong she is, and how much there is to be done.
Xander: Cassia's best friend and official Match, Xander seems like he would be a very one-dimensional character, but he's not. The boy has secrets and strong feelings, he knows things and as the story progresses, you get more and more of a sense of that. I feel like as this story continues in the other two books, we will see Xander become quite complex.
Ky: A quiet, guarded boy... Ky offers the most telling, interesting bits about himself while still remaining silent, through drawings. He's obviously brilliant... but I still want to hear more of Ky... I felt like he was the love interest... but for the time being, not much else was expected of him. He was there to reveal to Cassia a world she didn't know existed... but as for him on his own, he hasn't existed much outside of supporting Cassia's discoveries. I'm very interested in seeing more of his story, and learning more about his motives.
Grandfather: Pretty much the catalyst for everything else that happens, he makes Cassia start to question.
Cassia's Parents: Interesting characters in themselves, it seems Cassia's entire family is prone to sticking out in one way or another... I can see her parents playing a bigger role in future books as well... and there is great potential in them for deeper, well constructed characters.

Quality of Writing:
I had two problems with the writing in this book. One was the repetition of the word "I"... they jumped out at you, assaulting you from almost every sentence. The repeated over-use of the word "I" actually began pulling me out of the story it appeared so often. My second problem was with sentence structure. I know that Cassia comes from a society where they were supposed to cut out the frillery and stick to what was needed... and with that concept the short sentences would have worked well, had that been what they actually did. They didn't though, instead you just ended up with all that frillery broken down into really short little sentences. It too pulled me out of the story, as I sat there wondering why it was necessary. Other than those two things, the story was well paced and the plot flowed easily, making this a quick read.

Nothing really shocking or unexpected happened at the end of this book. It was still dramatic and made me want to read the next book, but it wasn't mind blowing. That's not at all a bad thing... especially since this is a trilogy and I suspect that the biggest punch will come in the last book in the series.

While this book was fun and interesting to read, it was a plot any avid reader will have seen before. If you've read The Giver by Lois Lowry or 1984 by George Orwell or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, then you've read Matched. It is the story of a world where decisions are made for the people, and the people are encouraged not to think about them. It is a world of mindless following and strict control.
Now, while the prose aren't quite as skillful as the books I compared it to, I think that another telling of this type of story, in this format, is a wonderful idea.
Putting such powerful concepts in the hands of today's youth, making them think about the world around them, and hopefully getting them interested in books like 1984... and why those books were written, I think is a really important thing, and Matched may be able to generate such a spark.
Now, I've heard this book also compared, a lot, to another recently released series, The Hunger Games... which I have not yet read... but now hearing that it is, in fact, a dystopian series much like Matched, I think it's time to pick The Hunger Games up... and then I can make a more informed comparison between those and Matched.

Believability of World:
It's not just a believable world, it's a world that, to a degree has already happened over and over here on this planet... and it's the sort of story that warns "This could be happening to you right now"

Overall Grade: B

Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Blogger Hop, Follow Friday and a Giveaway

This week's question for the Hop:
"What is the one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?"
A reading room that's all tricked out! 
I want it to have a full coffee bar, and the comfiest chairs ever and bookshelves everywhere and a big screen tv (sometimes I need background noise), and giant beautiful windows and comfy blankets and pillows and ... and... and.... XD There's so much!

 This week's question for Follow Friday:

If you have, or would have a daughter, what book
would you want your daughter to read?

 Well... let's consider this? What age are we talking about here?

Young: Stephen Kellogg, David Weisner, Magic Treehouse,  to name a few
Mid-Grade:  I would like to encourage books like Cornelia Funke's stuff for slightly younger kids
YA: I can tell you what I will try to keep my daughter from reading... and that is anything Twilight-esque... anything where the girl thinks life isn't worth living unless she's in a relationship, anything where the relationship is unhealthy and abusive and yet still touted as an amazing love story.
As for what I would hope she would read? Things like Harry Potter, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, The Hounds of the Morrigan, Percy Jackson... 


Don't forget to enter my Spooktacular giveaway! All you need to do is leave a comment with your email address to enter!

Go HERE to enter!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

REVIEW: Nation by Terry Pratchett (Audiobook)

By Terry Pratchett
Read by Stephen Briggs

Mau had been getting ready to trade his boy soul in for his man soul when a tsunami destroyed his home. Coming back to carnage instead of a warm greeting from his village, he finds death and destruction... and Daphne.

Daphne had been on a Schooner at sea when the tsunami hit, breaking her ship upon the island. Alone and afraid, she discovers Mau burying his dead, and, after one attempt at foolishness, decides he's not so bad, and that they must communicate.
Together, they forge a friendship that will take them from childhood to adulthood, and surpass prejudice to form a Nation.

Character Likability:
Mau: Possibly the most conflicted character in this story, Mau has to deal with having no soul, having no gods, drowning out the voices of the past, dealing with the voices of the present and figuring out how to make a future. By having his people washed away, he finds out more about them than he ever would have had life continued on as it always had. He's a pretty heavy character, and often has to take on serious endeavors.
Daphne: An incredibly likable girl, Daphne had been sick and tired of her role in society...  so while at first she makes a hasty choice, she quickly realizes how wrong she was, and that now all the rules have changed.
Ataba: Foolishly holding on to the ways of the past, even though greater things are being uncovered all around him... rushing to keep those things hidden, even if it results in his death... he is an excellent example of what can happen when one closes ones eyes to the evidence around them and instead chooses to blindly follow what they have been told is right.
Other Characters: There are a plethora of interesting supporting characters in this story, all of whom are appropriately wicked, or appropriately pleasant. All of them are enjoyable.

Quality of Writing:
This work has been touted as some of Pratchett's finest... and while the topics are serious, often dark and much heavier than your normal Pratchett novel (honestly, Pratchett often plays with some heavy topics, but he manages to do it so humorously that you're able to laugh at the subject matter without being weighed down entirely by it... he often makes us laugh at ourselves before we know what we're doing) they are still interesting and the story flows smoothly.

This one had a bittersweet but realistic ending.

This plot deals with a lot of heavy issues. Religion, Individual vs. Society, Civilized vs. Barbaric, the transformation from Child to Adult and where exactly those boundaries lie... and who defines them. It plays with the concept of what actually makes a Nation, and with the ambiguity of defining things like that in the first place. The gods and adulthood are all very similar to the concept of 'Nation' in this novel, all of them being difficult to define. Daphne, herself, goes a long way to debunk a lot of the mysticism behind Mau's culture... when she works out that while there are traditions, like spitting in the beer and then singing the "beer song"... that really, the spit defuses the poison (the beer is poisonous unless it's spit in and sung to) and the song... well, it doesn't really matter which song you sing, so long as it's a specific length, ie, the length of time needed for the spit to react and de-poison the beer... there is a lot of that sort of thing in this book, and at the same time, there are magical elements that cannot be explained away through science. I don't think Pratchett was out to say religion is hokum and science can explain it all away, I think he was just pointing out that it's a wavering line and sometimes things that should be solvable with religion actually require science, and sometimes things that should require science really require some belief. Really, there is a lot to think about in this book, for those who care to really dive into what an author is trying to say... and for those who don't? It's still a really good, touching story about two people who have lost everything, only to find so much more.

Believability of World:
This is Pratchett's first non-Discworld novel since 1996... so a knowledge of his other works is not necessary. You can pick this one up and dive in, it is a stand-alone... and the world it exists in is an alternate version of ours, around the 1860's (It is mentioned that the Origin of Species was recently published)

Audio Quality:

Stephen Briggs does another fantastic job. This is the 3rd Pratchett book I've listened to as read by him, and they have all been amazing.

Overall Grade: B+

Monday, October 25, 2010

REVIEW: A Hat Full of Sky Audiobook

 A Hat Full of Sky 
By Terry Pratchett
Read by Stephen Briggs

Tiffany has begun her journey as a witch, starting out as an apprentice to Miss Level, a rather odd witch who usually drives her apprentices off through no fault of her own. Unfortunately, Tiffany's apprenticeship is disrupted by the arrival of a hiver, a parasitic creature that takes over a person's being and causes them to behave VERY badly. With the help of Miss Level, Granny Weatherwax and the unforgettable Nac Mac Feegle, Tiffany begins the battle of her life, to win her body back from the hiver.

Character Likability:
Tiffany: Tiffany is a determined, logical young girl who is 100% Pratchett Witch material. While Tiffany herself is not one of my favorite Pratchett witches (that would be Weatherwax and Ogg to name a few), she is likable, and the fact that she's supplemented by the Nac Mac Feegle helps to offset her seriousness.
Nac Mac Feegle: ACH CRIVENS! The Nac Mac Feegle are hilarious, and in each book in this series (especially in the audio versions) I found myself laughing out loud at them.

Miss Level: She's a very interesting witch and I am quite amused that so many young witches were frightened by her. I like her quite a lot.
Granny Weatherwax: Probably my favorite Pratchett witch... she is dead serious, but kind of nutty-goofy in her own way, and prone to kindness when it least suits her.

Quality of Writing:
I find that all of the Tiffany Aching series is fast flowing and entertaining... mostly because you can't wait to see what the Feegle do next!

I love the solutions that Pratchett comes up with for his books. Sometimes I see them coming, and sometimes I don't... mainly because he often wraps them up in the lore of discworld, which is something I don't know!
This ending was no exception. It was clever, and allowed for another of my all-time favorite Pratchett characters to show up. Won't name any names though ;)

First off, I LOVE Pratchett's ability to name his books. He'll probably always get a 5/5 from me on that. I've yet to see him miss the mark on the name. Hat full of sky refers back to Tiffany's beloved Grandma Aching... and actually, at one point in this audio... she says the line "When I am old, I shall wear midnight"... and I Shall Wear Midnight is the last of the Tiffany Aching stories, so I was quite impressed by the set-up.
Anyhow, this story begins with Tiffany getting ready to leave home so she can train to be a witch. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to her more experienced witch mentors, she has learned the trick of stepping out of her body... and at one point, when she does, something called a hiver comes in and takes her over. She is left to struggle with it internally, while everyone else is trying to figure out what is going on externally. It showcases some of Tiffany's power that even she has no idea how to use, and it plays on the themes of fairytales (as do all the Aching books) and making assumptions.

Believability of World:
If you're familiar with other works in the discworld series, then this is a very well founded world... same as if you've already read the other Tiffany Aching book before this... but if you're coming into this one without reading anything else, I recommend you put it down and pick up the beginning of the Aching series first. Pratchett has built himself a very complete and complex world, and you need a little background!

Audio Quality:
Stephen Briggs does such a wonderful job reading Pratchett stories! These stories have a girl as the main character, but having a man read them isn't off-putting at all. He does it wonderfully, and his representation of the Nac Mac Feegle is phenomenal. I had read this book before listening to the audio, and I think he does it 100% justice.

Overall Grade: A (The Nac Mac Feegle always make me laugh out loud reading these books, I think they're some of my favorite literary characters of all time. Even if you tried to read the discworld series and didn't like it... pick up the Tiffany Aching series. They're hilarious... and Stephen Briggs makes the Feegle sound so amusing!)

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox Monday
Go HERE to check out the linky list for In My Mailbox Monday

Nothing! (haha! I did it!)


A signed copy of Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia

Matched by Ally Condie

The Hunted of 2060 by Ami Blackwelder


The Water of Kane and other legends of the Hawaiian Islands by Mary Kawena Puku'i

Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spooktacular Book Blog Giveaway Hop!!

Welcome to the... 
I will be giving away the ever creepy, ever enjoyable retelling of a classic favorite...

You will have until October 31st to enter, and this giveaway IS International!

How To Enter:

All you have to do is post a comment with an email address so I can contact you if you win!
(sorry for making it so crazy large, but I've gotten several entries with no emails already!)

And, of course, don't miss out on the fun, there are 86 other blogs having awesome giveaways!

Just follow this linky list to go to the other giveaways!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Blogger Hop, Follow Friday and a Review!

Book Blogger Hop

"Where is your favorite place to read? Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?"

I have a little love seat in my home, on this love seat, I have one of those pillows with the little arms that shoot out the side to prop you up. I lay on the love seat, my back against the pillow, my feet against the armrest on the far side... and end up in a slightly reclined, mostly sitting position, perfect for propping the book on my legs, perfect for hours of reading, perfect for sipping a nice warm drink as I flip pages, and perfectly spaced if a fluffy little kitty wants to come and curl up on my lap :)


What are you currently reading? Basically, what book is that?

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

This is the last in the Tiffany Aching series featuring what are possiblly my favorite discworld characters, The Wee Free Men. Otherwise known as Nac Mac Feegle, known for shouting things such as "Ach, Crivens!" and "wailywailywaily"... they make me laugh out loud when I'm reading, and they issue complaints such as "Ach, I kicked meself in me own heed!" How can you not like such feisty little fighters?


The Strangers Outside
by Vanessa Morgan

Two sisters, Jennifer and Louise, return to their remote holiday cabin after a day at the seaside. But little do they know they’re being surrounded. Shortly after their arrival, the girls will come face to face with THE STRANGERS OUTSIDE. When the assailants make their intentions known, things take ashockingly terrible turn and an intense battle for survival
will begin.

Character Likability:
Jennifer is an almost wholly unlikable character. She's down on herself, she's down on life, she's just down. She's also whiny and worthless in a pinch. You find out later she has more reason for that than you suspect, but still, she is a passive character, even in her own life.
Louise, the older sister, is much more likable. She's stronger, determined, and trying to make a better life for both her and her sister. She refuses to let negativity bring her down and is appropriately in shocked disbelief at the attitude of her sister.

Quality of Writing:
This was a fast flowing, action packed story. There were no lulls, there were no parts where I was just wishing the story would get on with it... it was constant action from start to finish.

It was an interesting ending, but I would have liked to have seen either more back story on the events leading up to this (the bit about the psychics contacting people) or more alarm from the characters at the very end. I know these are the determined, decisive characters, but still, I wouldn't be willing to split up with the people I found after what had happened... and I certainly wouldn't want to go back to my house by myself!! I think the thing that threw me the most in the whole story was Louise saying she was just going to go home at the end. If you had really just escaped something so terrifying, could you really just decide to go right back again... alone?

A very interesting idea, and something that could definitely be a longer story. The motivation of the Strangers is left unexplored and that isn't a bad thing. It leaves the reader wondering "Why?!" and admittedly, reflecting a bit on their own lifestyles and wondering if they'd be chosen too. I mean, I know I'm not as helpless and somewhat pathetic as Jennifer... but still... creeeeepy!
Setting the girls on vacation in an unfamiliar setting helped too, because it threw them off, they were unable to do exactly what needed to be done when it needed to be done, and it made sense as to why... it wasn't just one of those "Oh gee, I'm a lame scared girl" situations you see so often in scary settings. The description of the Strangers, also, was incredibly creepy. There is a line about them seeming to have faces that were too big... and it's imagery like that that just creeps me out in stories... when you take a human feature and describe it as "wrong" somehow.

Believability of World:
Believable. It was set in this world, and it felt like it. I could imagine looking out my own window and seeing the Strangers, and that's creepy.

Overall Grade: B- (This was a really fun, creepy read PERFECT for Halloween!)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cast Your Villain Entry

For mine:

The Villain: Porphyrion from The Lost Hero

My casting:  The Jolly Green Giant 

Go HERE to join in the fun!