Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

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To visit Ari Berk's website, click the image above!

Death Watch
by Ari Berk
Release Date: November 15th

They say the dead should rest in peace. Not all the dead agree.
One night, Silas Umber's father Amos doesn't come home from work. Devastated, Silas learns that his father was no mere mortician but an Undertaker, charged with bringing The Peace to the dead trapped in the Shadowlands, the states of limbo binding spirits to earth. With Amos gone, Silas and his mother have no choice but to return to Lichport, the crumbling seaside town where Silas was born, and move in with Amos's brother, Charles.
Even as Silas eagerly explores his father's town and its many abandoned streets and overgrown cemeteries, he grows increasingly wary of his uncle. There is something not quite right going on in Charles Umber's ornate, museum-like house--something, Silas is sure, that is connected to his father's disappearance. When Silas's search leads him to his father's old office, he comes across a powerful artifact: the Death Watch, a four hundred year old Hadean clock that allows the owner to see the dead.
Death Watch in hand, Silas begins to unearth Lichport's secret history--and discovers that he has taken on his father's mantle as Lichport's Undertaker. Now, Silas must embark on a dangerous path into the Shadowlands to embrace his destiny and discover the truth about his father--no matter the cost.
Critically acclaimed folklorist Ari Berk explores the worlds of the living and the dead, and the relationships between parents and children in a novel steeped in lore, mystery and magic.
~ Description from Amazon

This book looks spooky and delightful.
I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

REVIEW: Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

 Cryer’s Cross
by Lisa McMann

(from Goodreads): The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

Character Likability:
Kendall: Kendall is the main character, and she suffers from OCD. Before I read this book, I listened to Lisa McMann speak, and I learned that her daughter has OCD, and she wrote this book because she wanted a heroine who had OCD, but that wasn’t the point of the story, simply an aspect of it. I did not question that Mrs. McMann knew what she was talking about when it came to the behaviors of an OCD sufferer, since she had her daughter there to consult at ever step, but I disagree that this book isn’t about a character with OCD. Quite a lot of the story revolved around Kendall’s struggles with the disorder, and the ending hinged on it. Regardless, I found Kendall very likable. I enjoyed a strong female lead, especially when it was clear that being strong was one of the hardest things for her to do.
Nico: Kendell’s best friend since childhood, it’s obvious he adores Kendall… but then he starts to change, becoming distracted. Finally he disappears altogether, and the rest of the book is spent hunting for him.
A boy of Hispanic decent who moved in right around the time of the first disappearance. He and his sister become huge supporting factors for Kendall. Jacian spends a lot of the beginning of the book being a real jerk, but for me, this didn’t make him unlikable, since it was obvious he was suffering from being ripped from the life he knew to being thrown into this tiny town with about 5 kids in his graduating class.

This book was written in third person, and I’ve read tons of reviews where this has really bothered people, but I’m not sure why. I read the entire book in about 4 hours. I couldn’t put it down. It flowed beautifully. It was written in a way that I’ve not seen much of. Many of the sentences were short, not complete, choppy bits that worked well to give us a feel for how Kendall’s OCD thought process worked. It was jarring, but not so much that it pulled me out of the story, since its frantic nature fit right in with Kendall’s constantly active thoughts.  

This book had a decent end. There was some really wonderfully creepy imagery in the final “showdown” and I could visualize it all perfectly. The only thing I’m not sure of is the role of the main character’s OCD in the end. I’ve heard the author speak, and she said she wanted this to be a book about a girl who happened to have OCD, not about OCD… but considering the ending, OCD was pretty important to the story, more-so than just being a side note.

It was an interesting plot. I enjoyed how the story started right out with someone missing, the action kicking in from sentence one. I read the book in 4 hours, I couldn’t put it down until I reached the end. Every couple of chapters, there was a brief, italicized couple of lines that were cryptic and haunting. I really enjoyed pondering the puzzle of what they meant. My only complaint would be that the ending felt rushed. I wish there had been more set up for the final bit of the story. I wish we had learned more about the town’s history. For me, this was a book about the inner workings of a character suffering from some intense personal struggles, and not so much about the town itself, when, for this kind of story, setting is just as important as character development. I never really got a feel for the town, or the town’s past. It would seem to me that, for the secret this place was keeping, the atmosphere could have been heavier with the weight of it. I would have liked to have seen that rich tapestry built up a bit more. There didn’t need to be detailed descriptions of the place itself, but the stain on the town could have been built up with stories and echoes of the past. I guess I wanted more motivation and background on the “big bad” in the story.

 Believability of World:
Fun, haunting, and believable. I really enjoyed Kendall’s small town life, and if anything, would have liked to have heard even more about it.

Overall Grade: B ~ An exciting, quick read, perfect for Halloween. Pick it up and enjoy it, immediately!! The only thing I wish? That it had been longer!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday

Book Blogger Hop
Click the image above to join in the hop :)

“What is your favorite type of candy?”

Oh man... this is a loaded question for me. I love candy, how could I choose just one?! If I really truly do, though, there are two types of candy I HAVE to, though, I'm going to have to go with Ghiradelli Chocolate Squares, any and all flavors :) 

To join in Follow Friday, click the image above!

Q: What superhero is your alter-ego?

Just because I'm a girl doesn't mean my Superhero alter ego has to be one. Honestly, Tick, with his slightly moronic ways, his obliviousness to so many things, his crazy catch phrases and total lack of awareness at his own special level of insanity, is probably who I'd end up being... plus I'd spend a LOT of time looking in the mirror and laughing at my own costume's antenna!!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

REVIEW: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

 Un Lun Dun
by China Mieville

Strange things keep happening in London when Zanna is around, and the only one who notices (or will admit to noticing) is her best friend, Deeba. When the two of them follow a living umbrella and Zanna transports them to the strange world of UnLondon, they are hardly shocked to find that Zanna is the mythical Shwazzy, sent to save UnLondon from the wicked Smog.

Character Likability:
Deeba: “The Funny One”: as categorized by The Book, under Shwazzy sidekicks. A label she finds most insulting. However, it’s quickly apparent that Deeba is, in fact, the main character of this story, having much more depth and personality than the rather bland Zanna. Deeba takes over and pulls us through a danger filled adventure filled with the strangest of creatures.
Zanna: The Shwazzy, revered as the savior of UnLondon, and Deeba’s best friend.
Half boy, half ghost, Hemi is misunderstood and bitter. He knows how society sees him, even if it’s wrong, but there’s little a semi-transparent boy can do about it… except team up with Deeba to save the world.
Smog: The big bad in this book, it is what is sounds like, one big, nasty, black cloud of evil.
Curdle: Deeba’s pet milk carton, Curdle shows amazing courage when you would least expect it from something that smells like spoiled milk.
Obaday: An interesting take on a tailor, Obaday has a pincushion head and makes clothing items out of book pages. I kind of wish he really existed.
Skool: Obaday’s sidekick, and an amusing take on the idea… but I won’t say more.
Book: The Book of prophecy, looked to by all for the answers on what is to come, but quickly it is discovered that what is written in the book isn’t exactly how things will be. The Book speaks, and is often heard lamenting its own new-found worthlessness.
Conductor Jones: A Conductor who came through from London when Conductors were gotten rid, he has found new life in UnLondon with his friend, the bus driver, Rita.
Brokkenbroll: Lord of the Unbrellas (read that carefully) he is working with a man named Unstible to create Unbrellas that can withstand the onslaught of the Smog… but one can’t help think that something sinister might just be up.

This book pulled me right in, starting with the two girls, Zanna and Deeba, standing in London staring at a fox who was most certainly watching Zanna in a sort of awe. I was sucked in, and kept interested by the strange things that kept happening. Mieville’s style is smooth and never once pulled me out of the story, which is the number one thing I ask for from any book. As the story progresses, things start happening faster and faster, and while I enjoyed the action, I wish there had been a bit more time to develop certain characters they met along the way. There was a real opportunity here to create some deep, rich, strange, interesting people, but I think it was somewhat lost, since the story was more plot driven than character driven. The plot, though, was fascinating and rich in ideas and action.

While the beginning of this book was a little slow moving, it quickly picks up speed and races along, straight to the end. I really enjoyed the end of this book, it was one of those endings that you can be satisfied with, even if another book in this world is never written… and really, with the end to this book, one doesn’t need to be.

This particular book has a rich, bursting at the seams plot line. There is so much going on that it almost seems as if the book isn’t quite long enough for everything that is happening. This is one instance where I really wouldn’t have minded this story being broken into a series of more books. The world was amazing, interesting and bewildering, and I would have loved to slow down and see more of it. ESPECIALLY the land of the dead.

 Believability of World:
The author did a wonderful job making a rich world for these characters to play in. UnLondon is supposed to be a bit unbelievable, in so far as all of the insanity that takes place there, and the magic of it all, but it is written in such a way that one can easily buy into it.

Overall Grade: B+ ~ An exciting romp in a magical world, and a very likeable heroine.

Waiting on Wednesday

Please Click the Waiting on Wednesday Icon to go to Breaking the Spine and join in the fun!

by Ally Condie
Publication Date: November 1st, 2011

This week I'm choosing Crossed by Ally Condie

I have to admit, I had a bit of a lukewarm reaction to Matched. For as much hype as it got, I was really expecting a lot more from it... but it was still an interesting enough read that I will give the second book a chance, and see if it's going to branch off into something fascinating and original.

Plus I have to admit, I'm absolutely sucked in by the covers. HUGE kudos to the designer of these.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

REVIEW: The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica

This is book one in the series
The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica
by James A. Owen

John, Jack and Charles, three young men from Oxford, find themselves called to duty to care for what is possibly the most well protected book ever, the Imaginarium Geographica.

Character Likability:
John: The Principal Caretaker of the Imaginarium Geographica, John is logical, wise and patient. He’s not only likeable, he endears himself to the reader with his compassion and at the same time, with his mistakes. He owns them, and does his best to live by a moral code he deems worthy. As the series goes on, John becomes more and more of an adult, and it’s evident in the disregard he pays to the children in the story. He is in no way unlikable, but he is no longer quite in touch with youth. It’s not that he disrespects children, not in the least, more like, he overlooks them.
Jack: Younger, brash, fighting against the powers that be, in the first novel, Jack comes close to being downright annoying. He is the second caretaker of the Imaginarium Geographica. He’s the one chosen to make the stupid mistakes, the one who has to rebel against his own youth and desire to do the right thing. As the series progresses, Jack grows, and it’s easy to see why he was chosen as a caretaker.
Possibly my favorite caretaker, due to his great affinity for the animals of the Archipelago, Charles is a bit of a third wheel once you discover who the first two caretakers are. Historically, he’s not as recognized, but in this story, he’s quite the standout character. If not him, then some alternate dimension version of him. He believes in travel through both time and space, and studies that intently. Possibly the most down to earth of them all, and certainly the one most prone to mistakes without meaning to (for Jack, it always seems to be a choice, to pick good or evil, for Charles, well… let’s just say, accidents happen).
Mordred: The big bad in practically all of the books except The Dragon’s Apprentice, Mordred (yes, the Arthurian Mordred) keeps showing up in one form or another to ruin the caretakers’ day. This may sound dull, or contrived, but let me assure you, Mordred becomes one complex character who I truly enjoyed reading about.
Merlin: Another character who pops up through the books, the story of Mordred and Merlin is captivating (and takes place largely in The Indigo King), setting up quite a bit of what occurs in both previous and future books.
Tummler: A character pulled from The Chronicles of Narnia, Tummler is a badger who is also a printer, making a mock Imaginarium for distribution, as well as guides to the histories of the world, as well as practical things, like how to get out of a binding, in a book called The Little Whatsit.
Samaranth: The greatest of the dragons we know, he’s often a source of knowledge when the characters don’t know where else to go. Unfortunately, he’s fond of not speaking clearly, so they spend a lot of time trying to figure out what he means.
Fred: The Grandson of Tummler, he is a constant companion from The Indigo King onwards, and becomes the first animal to become Caretaker to the Imaginarium Geographica. He’s another of my favorites, with his animal loyalty and ability to sniff out danger or quell it with a well placed blob of tapioca.
Bert: In it from the beginning, he is mentor and guide to the three new caretakers, Jack, John and Charles.
Aven: Daughter of Bert, future queen of the Archipelago.
Arthur: The “Arthur” character, be he the original, or a descendant (In this series, “Arthur” is the title of the kingship, not an actual name) shows up often. Their noble bloodline allows them to do things others can’t, such as summon dragons.
EVERYONE ELSE: Honestly, these books are packed tight with historical figures, be they real or mythical… everyone from Lovecraft’s Ancient Ones to Benjamin Franklin show up… and always with good reason.

The books actually started out catering a bit more to children than I preferred. There were “big reveals” at the end of almost every chapter, and it started to wear on me as a reader. I understand that these books are, in fact, for children, but the “reveals” were starting to get out of hand… especially since the characters being revealed wouldn’t really mean anything except to adults or children who had learned about them. They weren’t often explained historically, and without the background, for kids not in the know, the reveal was meaningless. There was also one point, in particular, where a specific historical figure was eluded to… but one of the characters in the book said the equivalent of “Ah, never mind about them,” which… was actually really annoying… to introduce and then just as quickly dismiss a historical icon.
Other than those brief complaints (and the “big reveal” issue lessens as the series goes on, either that, or Owen has gotten better at making them less blatant), the writing is entertaining, the words flow and action is constant.

I have to admit, at the end of the first book, when I reached the “BIG REVEAL”… I chucked the book across the room in disgust, and refused to pick up the next one… it took me a year to pick the next one up. I had no desire to read the series after finding out who the characters were at the end of the first book. For whatever reason it just annoyed the hell out of me. Perhaps because it seemed like such a gimmick… at the end of the first book, there seemed, at least to me, little point in having the main characters be who they are (I’m being vague on purpose, so as not to ruin the surprise), but as the series went on, it became evident that there was in fact a reason, and that the story was an interesting, well thought out one. I’m glad I picked the series back up… and the ends to the future books in it have been much more satisfying.

The stories follow the adventures of the Caretakers as they try to keep balance between two very different worlds.
I really don’t want to elaborate too much, for fear of giving away something important.

 Believability of World:
The way this series ties in to real world events makes it a believable bit of story telling. It is a wonderful flight into a million “What if”s concerning bringing some of the greatest literary minds together… and you get swept up in the energy of it.

Overall Grade: A-  Stick with this series. I did, and it’s become complex and twisted.