Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

Now for another round of:

Follow Friday (click the pic to join in)

This week's question:

Give us five BOOK RELATED silly facts about you:

1.I need dead silence to read and *really* get into the story
2. I feel like bookstore clerks look down on me if I go to the register with only Manga
and it makes me nervous
3. If a book has illustrations by Edward Gorey, I will buy it...
even if I have no desire to ever read the book
4. I buy children's books for children I don't even have.
5. I have Ron and Harry Tonner dolls without faces o_O
I was in the process of repainting them and my sealing spray got to the end of the bottle and blew
a bunch of junk all over Harry's face... so I put them in the box and forgot about them... but now that the last movies are coming out and I'm rereading the books...
I want to pull them out and paint them again.

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop (click the pic to join in)

"If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?"

How can I be sure I'm not already living in the Harry Potter series? What if I'm just a muggle?!?!
Seriously though, I would want to live in the Harry Potter world... just... you know... as a witch.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Author Spotlight: Steven Kellogg

Steven Kellogg
There are few authors from my early childhood reading adventures who have inspired me as much as Steven Kellogg. Both entertaining author and amazing illustrator, I would, and still do, spend hours pouring over his works, drinking in the details of his illustrations, the hilarity of his storylines.
From following the adventures of Pinkerton and Rose, to Jimmy's Boa to American Tall Tale Legends, the work of Kellogg has never failed to entertain, inspire and awe me.

I could go on and on about the wonder of his work... or I could simply let him tell you. Watch the following video for a hilarious, helpful look into his creative process.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday

I have been waiting seven years for this book:

Please, please, please Clive Barker... no more delays!
Supposedly it's coming out September of this year.

It's an amazingly rich YA fantasy, enhanced by the beautiful illustrations and paintings done by Barker himself. I'm really looking forward to this series being furthered.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What am I reading? and Top Ten Tuesday

Tortall and Other Lands by Tamora Pierce
I am only 2.5 stories in, but so far I'm enjoying it.

The Foundling by D.M. Cornish
been reading this one for a while. I've read it before and love it... but I'm taking my time because I'm waiting to borrow the third book in the series from friends, and they aren't done with it yet.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Just finished this one this morning... still processing my opinions on what I've read. Review to come shortly.

Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves
(to join in, go to THIS BLOG)

1. Series, there... I said it. I am so sick of reading a book, getting to the end, and finding out it's part of a series. Whatever happened to books that could wrap it up in one go? Not to mention that half the series out there are YA books that *really* should have had their story wrapped up in the first book, but that are being dragged out... often painfully... so as to make more profit in book sales.

2. Bad Editing. I swear, I am finding more and more spelling errors, grammar errors and just plain typos in books these days. Is it because I'm reading more? Am I more sensitive to these things now? Or are publishers just trying to push out too much too fast? I have no idea, but they detract from the story... because they pull me out of the story and remind me I'm reading a book.

3. Crowd Mentality: I read so many blogs that hype books that are coming out, all of them proclaiming, "OMG BEST BOOK EVER!"... and then I read the book and think, best case, it's mediocre. Worst case, it's pure drivel. I have a hard time believing so many people really think it's so awesome... I am more prone to believe that they are afraid to go against the grain and say they thought it sucked... because I've seen what happens to people who do that. They get flamed for disliking something. I read a review of a reader who hated The Hunger Games... and while I disagreed, I thought their review made some really valid points and could absolutely see where they came from, and thanked them for their thoughts, because they forced me to look at the book from a new perspective. Sometimes it's ok to be a hater. :P

4. Mary Sue: I hate characters that can do everything, have everything and it's obvious ten pages into the book that they're going to win, because they're pretty much Superman without Kryptonite.

5. Weak Endings: I hate reading a good, action packed book, getting to the end and having it be a let down. Two examples? Jaws (I much prefer the movie ending over the book ending) and Wicked (I really felt like, after building such an interesting, deep character, the author shoved the Wicked Witch into her movie role... kind of like cramming your foot into a too small shoe, based on the character he built, I really thought he needed to work harder to turn her into the Wicked Witch Dorothy fought)

6. Authors who insist on writing series, and then don't work on them: George R. R. Martin and Clive Barker... I'm looking at YOU.

7. Love Triangles: Do I need to say more? Ok, I'm really sick of book plots being usurped by love triangles. Yes, teenagers are horny... but no, when the world is ending, or monsters are trying to eat you... I don't think even teenagers would only think about how dreamy one boy is is... but how warm and reliable another boy is.

8. Plot Holes: Sometimes, things really DO need to be explained.

9. Introducing a major plot device/character at the end of a book or series: Ok, Rowling, I'm looking at you. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Harry Potter... but it really irks me that Rowling waits until the last book to mention the Deathly Hallows... I mean... that's a major series plot issue... you would have thought something like that could have been mentioned before hand. Heck, in the first book it's said that Invisibility cloaks are rare... what isn't mentioned is that there's only one, ever. That's beyond rare. It's one of a kind... you'd think that would have been something that wizarding born and raised kids would have picked up on. I also hate it when the character that saves the day shows up at the end of a book and hasn't been at all hinted to earlier in the book/series. Convenient, anyone?

10. Discrediting Graphic Novels because they're Graphic Novels: Often times people think that because it's a comic, it's not literature. All a graphic novel really does is cut down on the telling by involving more showing. There's no need to describe a setting when you can see it. That does not make what is written there worthy of less recognition than a novel. Case in point? Maus.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

REVIEW: Jaws by Peter Benchley

by Peter Benchley

NOTE I fully and openly admit to being a child of the movie version of this book. I’d always been interested in reading the novel, because it’s one of those novels that changed the world, creating hysteria towards sharks and causing people to think of them specifically as man-eaters.

A small, summer town is set upon by a man eater... a Great White Shark with a taste for human flesh.

Character Likability:
Martin Brody: I have to admit, I’ve always loved the Schneider version of Martin Brody and I was happy to see that the movie followed closely to Benchley’s vision of Brody… and that Schneider was, in fact, the perfect man to play him. For me, Brody has always been a strong male character. My affection for him is close to the affection I feel for Atticus Finch. Brody is clear on what he considers right and wrong and does what he can to live by “right”. Unlike in the movie, the book actually gives better reasons as to why Brody would allow the beach to be reopened, as opposed to JUST political pressure. He stands up for what he believes in, and unlike in the book, he IS a local and has clout with the locals because of this. He also doesn’t have the fear of water that has been given to the character in the movie… but this is really neither here nor there, and is a curious addition to the movie itself, and proves to give Brody one of his few weaknesses that, in the book, simply isn’t an issue.
Hooper: There is a dramatic difference between the movie Hooper and the book Hooper. Where the Richard Dreyfus version is likable, joking and generally a friendly presence… smartly scientific when he needs to be… the Hooper of the book comes in more to represent the life that Mrs. Brody used to live… a connection to her past that she has been so struggling to regain. Hooper is more of a vehicle to cause Mrs. Brody to examine her marriage, her life and what she really wants in the world. At the same time, he still acts as the scientific advisor, and while seeming at least slightly capable, there’s something disturbing about Quint seeming to know more about sharks than Hooper does… Hooper, the man who has dedicated his life to studying them. Hooper is a “summer kid”, the rich, spoiled kids who come to summer in Amity because they have rich mommies and daddies, and frankly, despite his grown up profession, Hooper hasn’t shaken this “rich kid” feel, which, for me, discredits him a bit as a scientist. I much preferred the movie Hooper who was strictly business and seemed to come from a more down-to-earth background.
Other than physical description (the book Quint was bald and fit), this character stayed pretty much the same from book to movie. In the book, Quint is forced to watch several dramatic moments between Hooper and Brody play out, but he does it stoically. He’s all business as a fisherman, but willing to tease and joke when the mood grabs him. The book Quint has fewer interesting stories and focuses more on the fishing aspect of the trip. He uses more gruesome bait such as baby porpoises and sheep, and talks more about the science of fishing than the movie Quint did. His fate is the same as it is in the movie, to be taken down by the shark… but in the book he has a much more Ahab ending.
The Shark: Often we, as readers, were able to see an attack from the perspective of the shark, much like the underwater scenes in the movie… except Benchley uses these moments of shark perspective to introduce the reader to the detached science of a shark attack… from the sensors in the snout to the scent of blood in the water to the fact that humans sound like distressed fish… we get to see the unemotional science behind a shark attack… which only makes it all the more frightening.
Mrs. Brody: Unlike the loving wife of the movie, Mrs. Brody in the book is selfish, annoying and so wrapped up in herself and her longing for her old life that she’s unlikable. Sure there might be a shark attacking the coast and making her husband’s life a living hell… but to her, none of that is as important as feeling sexy and attractive and being accepted by the upper crust of Amity society. She does terrible things, and frankly, I didn’t get the sense, by the end of the book, that in several years she wouldn’t just revisit her depression and do the whole thing all over again. I pity Brody for his married life in the book, where in the movie they were a cute, loving couple.
Meadows: A character that is absent in the movie, Meadows runs the local newspaper and publishes articles that, for the most part, help Brody… thanks to Brody and Meadow’s friendship. He is instrumental in dropping information to Brody throughout the story that Brody wouldn’t have had otherwise and that was cut from the movie all together.

Quality of Writing:
Benchley told an interesting, fast paced story that made it difficult to put the book down. Despite having seen the movie, the book was incredibly interesting and different enough to keep you wondering what would happen next. In comparison to the movie, I think there was a bit more of the ‘fantastical’ in the book, where things seemed very conveniently timed… but it had you on the edge of your seat the entire time, and it’s easy to see how this story began a wave of shark slaying. The fish in this story is relentless and endlessly hungry.

To be completely honest, I prefer the ending in the movie. Sure, Mythbusters has proven that Brody couldn’t have exploded the fish in such a manner… but I don’t care. The Captain Ahab, convenient timing ending of the book was a bit anti-climatic. I got to the end and found myself very much missing the “Smile you sonnoffa…*KABOOM!*”

This book had a fast paced plot that kept me, as a reader, interested in finding out what happens next, despite having seen the movie.  The book took the opportunity to explore more of the science behind shark attacks, as well as more of the social interaction that occurs in a summer town than the movie did. It focused very much on the terror not just of unpredictable shark attacks but also of the looming threat that closing down the beach imposed on the townsfolk who needed to stay there year round. It discussed the small town politics and the “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mentality of many of the year round folk. It also explored social status and one’s contentment with their lot, as well as the possibly unforeseen positive effects that can be caused by negative press. There was a lot of social commentary going on, and it kept the book interesting and moving inbetween the gruesome shark attacks.
Not to mention that this book was loosely based on real shark attacks that happened along the Jersey Shore and in a small river in 1916 … the real life attacks almost as fantastical as the ones in the book, and adding to the hysteria that caused this book to be a ‘world changer’ and incite the mass hunting of sharks.

Believability of World:
While a lot of this book is believable, there are some instances that are just a tad too convenient for my liking… most notably, the end. However, the small town politics and the vast majority of shark attacks, and the publics reaction to them was entirely believable.

Overall Grade: A-

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Currently Reading...

What am I reading right now you might ask? (Or perhaps you didn't ask, but I'm going to tell you anyways :) )

1. The Foundling by D.M. Cornish
Yes, it might seem like it's taking me a long time to read this... but in fact, it's not. I'm reading it slowly because this is actually my second time reading it, and I am rereading it because Cornish has created a very detailed world... and the third book in this series has just come out, so I wanted to brush up on it before reading the last one. However, I'm going to borrow it from a friend to read, and she's still in the middle of the third book XD

2. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
So far, LOVING this book. It's, at the moment, a strange mix of Narnia and Harry Potter... but this is an adult novel, and I can see how it's going to reflect more adult situations/attitudes as the book goes on. I'm very excited to read this one.

3. Jaws by Peter Benchley
I've been meaning to read this book for years... now I am. I love how it begins with the description of the shark swimming.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

Time to get back into the swing of things!
Clicking on either of the graphics should take you to the hosting blog so you can sign up for Follow Friday or Book Blogger Hop yourself :)

First up is Follow Friday... this weeks question:
What embarrassing thing have you done on cold medicine? 
I was given some really strong cold medicine by my doctor when I was younger... and in the middle of the night I became convinced that the light in the hallway was, in fact, an alien that had come to abduct me. I started screaming and wouldn't stop... my Mom came running and all she could do was laugh and feel sorry for me. She didn't even get mad. LOL.

Now for Book Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question: 
 "Who's your all-time favorite book villain?"
The Morrigan from Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea

REVIEW: Kat, Incorrigible

 Kat, Incorrigible
by Stephanie Burgis

Synopsis (from back of book):
Katherine Ann Stephenson has just discovered that she’s inherited her mother’s magical talents, and despite Stepmama’s stern objections, she’s determined to learn how to use them. But with her eldest sister Elissa’s intended fiancé, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat’s magical potential; her other sister, Angeline, wreaking romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat’s reckless heroism will be tested to the utmost. If she can learn to control her new powers, will Kat be able to rescue her family and win her sisters their true loves?
Character Likability:
Kat: As a 12 year old, she was very convincing. Head strong, often not as clever as her adult counterparts… Kat, importantly, acted like a child. I am so tired of books that have a child protagonist that is, for all intents and purposes, an adult in kids clothing. This is NOT the case here. Kat comes across as being her age. Impulsive, inexperienced, eager to get herself into trouble and not always seeing the trap. She bickers with her older sisters and steps on the nerves of Stepmama all the time, but she means well and loves her family, and is a truly likable little girl… and she’s incredibly clever in that way that only a 12 year old tomboy can be… there is a lot of scheming, the exact kind I’ve heard in whispered tones from children who were up to something.
Elissa: Kat’s eldest sister, and an avid reader of Gothic Romances, after which she patterns her own behaviors. Ready to sacrifice her future and happiness to save her family from financial ruin, she spends most of the book being painfully proper.
Angeline: The middle child, and, like Kat, a user of magic. She gets herself into quite a bind practicing it, actually, and is also secreting away their Mama’s magic book. She’s feisty and full of attitude and I quite liked her.
Stepmama: Obsessed with cleaning up the family name and keeping them all from financial ruin, Stepmama comes across as a bit of a harsh character at first. It’s quickly apparent though… just from the sheer volume of time she spends with the children, and her willingness to bring them along, that she really is worried mostly about the family’s appearance to Society, and not a ‘wicked stepmother’.
Mr. Carlyle: The victim of Angeline’s spell to find her true love, he leaves college to come study under Kat’s father… upon first arrival, he’s bland and has a one track mind… to marry Angeline. This is due to the spell, and when it is later broken, Mr. Carlyle becomes quite the interesting character… and quite the ladies man J
Sir Neville: Possibly the most typical of characters in this story, he is the Villian. There really isn’t much question of this for most of the book. There was one point when I was reading where I distinctly remember thinking that the author could have taken the story in the direction of Pride and Prejudice and made Sir Neville not what he appeared. This wasn’t the case, however, and Sir Neville is exactly what he appears to be. I’m perfectly ok with that though, he is a very effective, menacing villain, capable of some surprises himself.
Mr. Gregson: Kat’s would-be magical mentor, he keeps tabs on her magical mischiefs and generally tries to make sure magic is, if nothing else, not abused. He’s a mysterious character and quite honestly, through most of the book, I wasn’t sure if he was a good or bad guy…
Mr. Collingwood: Sir Neville’s younger brother… and completely devoid of the evil encased in Sir Neville. Obviously another fancier of Gothic Romances, the interactions between Elissa and Mr. Collingwood are hilarious at the end of the book… and so is the disgust exhibited by Kat and Angeline.

Quality of Writing:
This was a fast flowing book that, once I picked up, I couldn’t put down, and once I reached the end, I wished there was more. Kat’s voice was energetic and entertaining, and the characters were always in motion… never a dull moment from the very start.

Please, please, PLEASE tell me there will be more of these? It ended by concluding the major points of this books plot, but it left it wide open for more books to be written.

The overall plot was a device seen before by readers of fantasy… but it wasn’t at all cliché. There were so many wonderful side stories, and quite frankly, the whole history of Kat’s mother, which remained elusive and mysterious, added quite a lot of depth to the plot. Even the Stepmother, usually a rather flat character in these types of stories (in so far as motivation and such), was given depth. The story never slowed pace and never got boring, there was constant action coming at you from all sides, but it never felt like too much, nor did it ever become confusing. It was a well mapped out, well thought out, well constructed plot that kept the reader interested and excited to see what would happen next. As I mentioned earlier… please tell me there will be more to this series. I’m incredibly interested in finding out more about Kat’s family, and in reading more by this author.

Believability of World:
Honestly, I know very little about this time period, so any historical inaccuracies were lost on me… but as for the incorporation of magic into a world where being proper is very important, I truly enjoyed it, and never felt as if anything was out of place.

Overall Grade: A

Thursday, March 3, 2011

REVIEW: Tagami Bachi Volume 1

 Tegami Bachi Volume 1
by Hiroyuki Asada

In Amberground, it is the job of the Letter Bee to deliver the letters of the people... whatever those letters may be.

The story opens with us meeting a diligent Letter Bee by the name of Guache Suede. He and his dingo (the name given to the Letter Bee's helper companion... which can be anything from a dog to a man... in Guache's case, it's a dog named Roda)are on their way to pick up a letter, which turns out to be Lag Seeing, a small boy who has been left handcuffed to a post with a mailing slip stuck to him.

We quickly learn that this is not an unexpected letter... and that Guache is dedicated to his job. Lag is distraught, having recently been separated from his mother, and is upset over the fact that Guache will not be his friend, since a Letter Bee never befriends a letter.

This first volume is primarily about Guache Suede delivering Lag Seeing to his destination. Along the way, Lag is witness to heroic feats and true class in the form of Guache, and decides that when he grows up, he too will be a Letter Bee... both because he sees it as highly honorable to deliver the heart felt messages of the people, and because Letter Bees are allowed into Akatsuki, the capital, the place where he believes his mother was taken.
However, by the end of the volume, we see Lag off to begin his journey to take the test to become a Letter Bee. Inspired by the bravery and dedication of Guache Suede, Lag has stayed true to his word and hopes to cross paths with the man who inspired him, once he reaches the capital. On his journey to take the test, he picks up his dingo, a strange girl with amazing powers.

Truthfully, I was hooked from the get go... I love the concept that these Letter Bees are out there delivering anything and everything... and Guache is such a wonderful opening character. He's likable, heroic, and motivated by the purest of intents. Definitely someone I would want my main character patterning himself after.

Lag Seeing: The main character, he starts the story as a young child and we see him grow to the point of going to test to become a Letter Bee himself. He's still incredibly young (12? I think?) and he's quite the cry baby, but I find his sniveling endearing. He's not a hard, manly character at all, he's obviously an emotional child who cares a lot about everyone.

Guache Suede:
A valient, heroic, likable character who becomes Guache's model for how a Letter Bee should behave, and rightfully so. Guache is motivated to become the top Letter Bee to save his sister and move her into the big city.

Niche: A 'Package' that Lag finds on his way to taking his test... her shipping label had been damaged, which results in her remaining chained up for several days until someone comes and lets her free. Lag, having been a chained up letter himself, hates this and releases her. She is small, precocious and lacking in underpants (something that horrifies and is then remedied by Lag). She also has powerful abilities, because she is the daughter of a mythical creature... thus making her Lag's perfect dingo... and pretty much saving his butt in almost any fight they encounter.

Roda: Guache's dingo, a dog who takes a liking to Lag immediately and shares his hatred of the food Guache prepares.

Guache's younger sister whom he is trying to help.

Sabrina Mary: Lag's aunt, and the person Guache is to deliver Lag to.

Conner and Gus: The Letter Bee and his dingo who are to accompany Lag to take his test.

Art Style:

The illustration in this manga is beautiful. It is detailed, well crafted with beautiful line weight, color (where applicable) and excellent proportions. The expressions are quite lovely too.

Believability of World:
This is a well constructed, interesting world that I'm very excited to find out more about.