Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Divergent by Veronica Roth

by Veronica Roth

Synopsis (via Amazon):
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Beatrice "Tris" Prior: The main character, Beatrice is from the faction of Abnegation, who are supposed to be the selfless types... but she's always felt she doesn't fit in, because by nature, she is not selfless. She chooses to go live with the Dauntless faction instead. Dauntless is a faction of warriors and risk takers, and also where Beatrice changes her name to the shortened version of "Tris"
Beatrice sees herself as unattractive... but as per usual in YA novels, it's simply her own perception of herself.
Four: Tris's instructor when she starts training as a Divergent. He is the main love interest, and a boy with secrets. I don't know what it was, but something about Tris and Four's love story really struck home for me. Maybe it's that it was born through blood and tears... and not just two dopey teens mooning over one another with little to no explanation of attraction other than hormones.
Thomas: Another High School student, and the one who lured Cas there in the first place... he is a mind-reader and a witch (although this book does not make it clear if ALL mind readers are witches or not). He attempts to befriend and watch out for Cas, and is dogged about it, even though Cas is a total jerk to someone who, you would think, Cas would recognize immediately as an important ally.
Caleb Prior: Tris's older brother, who choose to go live in the Erudite faction, which is the "intelligent" faction, always seeking to learn new things.
Christina: One of Tris's first friends in Dauntless, she is a good friend, but struggling through issues of her own.
Peter: Another Dauntless boy who is cruel and vicious. He causes plenty of problems for Tris and her friends.
Will: Another good friend of Tris's, and Christina's love interest.
Marcus Eaton: One of the leaders of the
Abnegation group.
Al: A sweet, but weak willed, Candor born Dauntless initiate, and a friend of Tris's.
Tris's Parents: Tris's father is one of the leaders of Abnegation
, and both of Tris's parents have secrets they're hiding.

 Writing: The book is fast flowing, with constant action, making it a quick read. The language is dynamic and the prose flow smoothly from one event to the next.

Shocking. That's all I have to say. Shocking.
While I saw some of it coming, I truly did not expect half of what happened in the last few pages of that book.

I enjoyed the plot of this book. Granted, it's one of those dystopian futures, much like the Hunger Games, where you sit around for a while wondering why anyone would even set their whole society up like that in the first place... although it's more plausible when you realize that this is, in face, not the entire world, but one large city (Chicago).  
The story actually spends most of its time following the personal struggle of the main character, Tris, as she fights to earn her place in the Dauntless society, and to find out who she really is. 
The story then smoothly transitions from Tris's own inner struggle, to a much larger war that has been raging in secret between the factions. Tris and her friends are pulled into it in a plausible manner and the scene is set for book two.

Believability of World: Like I said, it's one of those dystopian novels that make you wonder, "How did the society even get like this?" ... but for me, that doesn't ruin the story in the least. I expect dystopian novels to have extreme societies.. and this one has a structure that is believable and fun to watch unfold.

Overall Grade: B ~ This was a fun, fast read. Would I reread this book? Probably not. It didn't bring anything new and ground-breaking to the dystopian genre... but will I pass it on to others to read? Heck yeah. An absolutely enjoyable book.

REVIEW: The Poison Eaters by Holly Black

Let me say, this was an enjoyable book, but I feel the need to explain my Three Squid rating of it.

This is something that is actually a pet peeve of mine.
I got this book thinking "Yay! A bunch of new short stories from Holly Black!"
I was wrong.
Only 2 stories in here are new, and much to the wily wisdom of the publishers, one of them is a Tithe related story that probably would have made me buy the book regardless. Curse them.

All of the other stories come from other short story compilations, many of which I've read recently. It's very annoying to get a book that does not mention anywhere except the last page... that you are getting a bunch of reprinted stories that have surfaced in other short story compilations books (many of which I already own).

I didn't appreciate that at all. Therefore, the book itself gets 3 squids, because while the stories are entertaining, they aren't new... except for two of them... and those two are wonderful... but a tiny bit of a letdown in a sea of already read stories.

Book Cover: 5/5 (I like the paperback cover more than I like the hardcover)
Book Title: 5/5
Plot: See Below
Characters: See Below
Ending: See Below

Stories Reviewed Individually:

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Story Title: 2/5
Plot: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Ending: 5/5

This is the story of Matilda, a girl who has been infected with Vampirism.

Supposedly, if you are infected, but don't drink blood, then 88 days later the virus leaves your system and you are fine again.
Unfortunately, things go a bit wrong for Matilda and she ends up on an insane rescue mission with the right idea in her heart... but possibly the most conviluted method of going about it.

Character Likability:
I found the main character extremely likable, despite her sometimes questionable actions. The supporting characters were mostly unlikable, except Dante (Dante was likable)... but they were supposed to be, and it worked out incredibly well for the story.
Quality of Writing:
Typical Holly Black excellence... she does not disappoint in the quality of her prose.
This story, for me at least, had a very enjoyable ending. Although it makes me wonder if the story shouldn't have been titled "The Warmest Girl in Coldtown"... seeing as how humanity never flees from Matilda... in fact, with her infection, she only fights for it harder.
A good plot, not wholly unpredictable... you could pretty much see where the story was going from the beginning... and it goes just about where you expect it to, but an enjoyable read none-the-less.
Believability of World:
filled with grit, sex, murder, lust, betrayal and truth. The characters and their reactions feel real, and as a reader, you can taste Matilda's panic on your tongue. This makes for a believable world and an entertaining tale.

A Reversal of Fortune

Story Title: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Ending: 3/5

This is the story of Nikki who is pretty much just having a lame summer. Nothing really truly awful... yet, as per teen-aged fashion, a 'boring' summer equates to 'the-end-of-the-world'.

Then she meets a smelly old man on the bus... and things get interesting.

Character Likability:
I generally liked the characters in this story, although they didn't feel quite as solid and fleshed out as the characters from The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.
Quality of Writing:
Again, quality is never in question, it flowed beautifully, word-wise.
Decent enough... the story really could have gone either way and still have felt like something the reader has heard before... just because this scenario is a favorite in fiction.
A good plot, a typical plot, a plot we've all heard before. That doesn't make it less enjoyable, it's always fun to see people tread these waters... and Holly Black's solution is both disgusting and believable... and I enjoy her willingness to do 'gross stuff' in her stories.
Believability of World:
While I enjoyed the story, I found I kept coming back to having a problem believing the reactions of the characters in this world. Especially the main character's brother. He took the whole situation in stride... and quite frankly, showed exceptional calm when, honestly, I think most mortals would have been flipping out. I think this detracted from the believability quite a bit, because it pulled me out of the story to wonder, "Whoa... why isn't he losing it right about now?"

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Story Title: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Ending: 4/5

A boy, on a family boating trip, is reading a local legend about a special flower that will change man to wolf... when they stop for lunch, he finds the flower and can't help himself...

Character Likability:
While the characters are likable enough, I didn't feel particularly connected with any of them, I was definitely the outsider looking in here.
Quality of Writing:
Again, quality is never in question, it flowed beautifully, word-wise.
A gruesome finale... I enjoyed that actions have consequences.
I liked this story, because it's one of those where the kid is thinking, "That local legend is silly... but what if..." and is willing to test it out to see if it's true. This story ends how these kinds of stories almost always end, but it's enjoyable.
Believability of World:
This world was believable... but didn't feel like my own, I didn't have that connection to it where I could relate and step into the main character's shoes.

The Night Market

Story Title: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Ending: 3/5

It was the story of a young girl trying to save her ailing sister from the heart-sick aspirations of a Faerie... of course, as per usual when mortals mess with Fey, she messes things up a bit, isn't as wiley as she thought, and eventually finds out that her perception of the situation was slightly off.

Character Likability:
I found myself liking all of the characters in this story, even the despicable ones.
Quality of Writing:
Again, quality is never in question, it flowed beautifully, word-wise.
Predictable but enjoyable.
Not bad, not complex... but then, it's a short story. Based on the title of the story, I expected more from the Night Market... but what we did see of it was enjoyable. Certainly the most interesting place in the story. I would have liked to have seen more of its curiosities.
Believability of World:
Perfectly believable. I felt more of a connection with the main character in this story... possibly because she made foolish choices without getting all of the facts, and I found it believable that a young girl would do such things.

The Dog King

Story Title: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Ending: 5/5

There are legends of wolves who turn to men and come into towns to feed their ravaging hunger. There is a boy in the castle and no one knows him. There is a king with a pet wolf, taken as a pup and raised... and they both have a secret.

Character Likability:
Love the characters in this story, even though I'm not sure any of them are truly worthy of being liked. They are all a bit nefarious.
Quality of Writing:
Choppier than the other stories, because it jumps from one thing to another... however, the story itself is not choppy, the jumping makes it flow, and allows a lot more information into this one than we had gotten in previous stories... the prose themselves were chopped up in a fashion that added to the suspense.
Excellent end. You saw it coming, it was set up... but it was still beautiful and horrifying.
I love the story here, a lot is packed into a very small space. The background, the emotions of the characters, their histories, their motivations, all of it comes together beautifully.
Believability of World:
Incredibly believable and something I'd like to see drawn out into a longer story. This one was just downright creeeeepy! It was a dark hallway filled with unfamiliar noises, and you were left with only the nub of a candle, already flickering, threatening to go out. Masterful in its ability to let you visualize it internally.
This one was truly amazing.


Story Title: 3/5
Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Ending: 2/5

Girl meets boy, girl finds out boy has a tragic past and lives with a Unicorn in the woods. Girl messes everything up.

Character Likability:
I didn't really find the main character all that likable in this one.
Quality of Writing:
Prose were lovely, as usual.
I had a problem with the ending of this one... the beginning of this story implied one thing, and the end another. It left me confused and wondering if I had missed something in my reading of it.
It's an interesting plot, and I enjoyed the concept of it, but I felt it was perhaps a bit to lofty of one to try to shove into a short story. The main boy's background is quickly stated and really glossed over... while it's obvious there is a larger, interesting story there... as well as a more interesting story concerning him and the Unicorn.
The main girl's story didn't really interest me that much, she just seemed a bit selfish, and it didn't really feel like she was doing any of this for anything more than amusement and something to do. I liked the aspect of her reading, and wanting the types of stories she read to belong to her, and I can see her desire to be involved in the boy's life in that regard... but her actions overall still felt selfish and weren't the solution to her problems.
The story ended on a strange note for me... because the beginning of the story implied one thing, while the end implied something else, and I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to think of the final sentences.
Believability of World:
The world itself was luscious and raw. The dirty, messed up world of runaways, something I have never encountered, but have no trouble visualizing thanks to the talents of Holly Black. The world itself was very well constructed.

In Vodka Veritas

Story Title: 4/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Ending: 4/5

Nerdy boy gets stood up for an adventurous night out, and decides that he and a bottle of Vodka aren't going to let that stop them... then he stumbles across the Latin club, and finds they have their own ideas for a fun night.

Character Likability:
I really liked the main character in this story. I could definitely relate to him and enjoyed his voyage of self discovery. I found the wicked characters very likable too.
Quality of Writing:
Prose were lovely, as usual. A very smooth flowing story.
I loved the end of this one. The story, although full of rather strange activity, was essentially and truly a story about the main character's self discovery. In that regard it ended well, and in regard to the strange events, it ended on a humorous and enjoyable note.
I loved this one. All around amusing, graphic, and so chock full of nerd references that I never ceased to be thrilled. The story itself was cute... and more about a boy finding himself than about the nefarious deeds that occur. I felt more connected to this character than I did to some of the characters in other stories... but that's probably due to the fact that he spent a lot of time internalizing... and they were thoughts we could all grasp onto and relate to.
Believability of World:
This one I'm a little torn on... because while I find this to be one of the most believable characters yet, the world itself is a little glossed over and not fully explained. Since it was mainly a story of self-discovery though, it worked just fine.

The Coat of Stars

Story Title: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Ending: 4/5

A tailor comes home to turbulent family life and haunting memories of the past.

Character Likability:
I actually found myself liking the characters in this story a lot. The story itself is about saving those you love, redemption and love in general. The main character was set up to be your stereotypical jerk-of-a-character. He's a successful costume maker who is somewhat ashamed of his ghetto background... or so he thinks. You find out quickly though, that while he struggles with certain aspects of his family life... he is likable and deserves the readers respect.
Quality of Writing:
Wonderful writing as usual, a lot of story is shoved artfully into a very small space.
I enjoyed the ending, although it wasn't my favorite part of the story... I found the buildup to it much more interesting and poignant.
Another story of the character coming to realizations about himself through the wicked acts of faeries. I enjoyed this one immensely. There was ample back story to draw from, all set up through the memories of childhood, which, when going home, only makes sense to reflect upon. There are understandings reached between family members who haven't really talked for fear of being cast out, and there is obvious love among this family. This one was incredibly refreshing to read.
Believability of World:
I found everything about this world believable except the dealings with the Fae. The main character essentially played the same tune three times... and it seems doubtful it would have ever been met with success when he never modified the rules once he realized he had been cheated.

Paper cuts Scissors

Story Title: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Ending: 4/5

The story of a boy who is afraid of, and loves, books. If you've ever read Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series... this is a variant on that concept, and incredibly interesting.

Character Likability:
I liked the main character a lot. He's timid and strong at the same time. The other characters were enjoyable, except possibly the ex-girlfriend, whose actions I thought were a bit harsh and unfair.
Quality of Writing:
Wonderful writing as usual.
While I enjoyed the concept of the ending quite a lot, I don't think the character who benefited from it deserved to.
The plot of this story made me think of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, but on a much quicker level... and also made me think it was a vehicle for an author to play with the interactions between storybook favorites who otherwise would never meet. I have to say, it's interesting and fun to see what one thinks they would do together.
Believability of World:
This world I found only somewhat believable. It felt like certain characters were not developed well enough (example: the main character's boss) and some of these characters were given more weight than they deserved (ex-girlfriend), while others, like the main character's classmate, weren't given enough page time. Mostly this story was fun because you got to watch classic characters interact... and be envious of those who could insert themselves into the world of Harry Potter.

Going Ironside

Story Title: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Ending: 5/5

One neurotic Fey comes to our world to get herself a baby...

Character Likability:
There is really only one character with a voice in this story, and while she's crazy, she's still very likable.
Quality of Writing:
This one is written differently from the rest, a constant, streaming, internal monologue, it lets you directly into the insane little head of the main character. I liked this style a lot.
Perfect ending.
You learn a lot about why the character is out doing what they are doing, and you learn a lot about the success she's met so far with her endeavor. Having a story completely inside the main characters head is a lot of fun.
Believability of World:
Believable because you really only have one Point of View on it, and it's what the character makes of it. Granted, there isn't a lot of 'world' in this story, it's more of an internal landscape... but you get a feel of where the main character might be in our world... which is where she's come.

The Land of Heart's Desire

Story Title: 2/5
Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Ending: 5/5

A quick revisit to Kaye's world... with a return of many favorites from the Tithe series.

Character Likability:
If you have read and enjoyed any of the Tithe series, you will like the characters.
Quality of Writing:
Excellent. Holly does a lovely job drawing on what we already know of these characters to make an interesting short story of them.
Perfect ending... and comedic.
Another plot of self-discovery, this time for several characters. It did well to add onto and advance already existing characters while giving the readers who loved the stories that these came from a happy little taste of what became of characters they loved.
Believability of World:
This one has an unfair advantage to the rest of the short stories, as it has 3 full novels already built in this world, so familiar readers are already aware of its complexities and fully accept the world they find this story in. It's impossible for me to read this as an outsider to the series, since it is such a beloved one to me. I'm not sure how someone who hasn't read the Tithe series would feel about it... although... I have a feeling they might hit snags concerning the motivations of Corny and Roiben... not to mention that you're plunked into this world not really knowing how much the 'common folk' know about the Fae to begin with... it might be more difficult for a non-Tithe reader to believe.

The Poison Eaters

Story Title: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Ending: 5/5

The story of three mysterious sisters... sheltered and deadly, fed poison and kept as secret weapons... but remaining young girls none-the-less... and prone to young girl follies.

Character Likability:
The three main girls were very likable, despite one being rather annoying... the personality fit her character and therefore did not make her unlikable. Some of the characters who controlled the lives of these three girls were a bit vague and unexplained, even in the end... and therefore you formed little attachment to them. The narrator is a bit of a mystery to me... his motivations for his final acts (or the fact that he was even a he... something I didn't realize until the end) aren't entirely clear to me.
Quality of Writing:
This is one of the best stories in this book.
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the ending to this one... while I can understand why the narrator chooses what he chooses... it's still a little strange to me.
Three deadly sisters have been raised for a purpose unknown to them. They have been groomed for it their entire lives, but those are lives filled with strife, because anything they touch dies (except each other)... and they are finally overcome with a weariness for the world they live in.
Believability of World:
I found the world very believable... but more so concerning the three sisters rather than all of those around them. Other than paranoia, there seemed to be very little real motivation for everything that took place... and I'm not quite sure why the girls father would have bothered at that point... unless he was insanely greedy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spooktacular Giveaway!

 Welcome, one and all,
to the
Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!!

I will be giving away:

A $10 Amazon Gift Card!

This giveaway is open to anyone who has access and can purchase items from Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 12, 2012

Feature and Follow and Book Blogger Hop

It's that time again!
Book Blogger Hop and Follow Friday!

First up, Follow Friday:

Question of the week:
What book do you think would make a great Halloween movie? Please explain in graphic detail of goriness…

 The Serenity Falls Trilogy by James A. Moore... hands down, the most gorey, disturbing, awesome set of books I've ever read.

These books are NOT for the faint of heart. They remind me a little of Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury...

G.M. Dark: Excuse Me?! I think not!
Well... ok fine, maybe not... I mean, there *IS* a creepy carnival in the Serenity Falls Trilogy, just like in Something Wicked This Way Comes... but unlike Something Wicked, Serenity Falls is a straight up set of horror novels. In Serenity Falls there is no "Pricking of the Thumbs"... your thumbs would just be ripped right the heck off your hands. Or maybe you'd be forced to eat them... or maybe your loved ones would... it's hard to say.

Maybe it's a bit more like Carnivale...

dark, gritty, spooky and haunting... but with a lot more violence. A LOT more violence.

Gore, zombies, flesh fileting, rape, murder, abuse, torture, magic, fire, water, blood, mind control, death, broken body parts, evil dolls, evil carnival, witches, warlocks, ancient curses... you name it, these books have got it, and they aren't light on the details.

Any character you like, or fall in love with... chances are they'll be dead by the end of the series (this really isn't a spoiler... it's more like something you have to brace yourself for (no one is exempt, not even children)... some characters *do* make it through, I promise).

Moore doesn't shy away from torturing anyone. There is no safety in age, gender or disability. If you're in these books, there's a good chance you're going to end up dead as a doornail... and it won't be quick or easy.

Next, Book Blogger Hop!

Question of the week:
With Autumn upon us and Halloween drawing near, what books remind you of fall? What ones do you enjoy reading that are about autumn?

Ray Bradbury, Ray Bradbury,
Ray Bradbury!!!!

Something Wicked This Way Comes

I LOVE this book, and it's centered around Halloween. It's perfect for evoking that scary, creepy feeling that comes along with Halloween... and it also has that hint of crisp fall throughout the book.

G.M. Dark is a wonderful, creepy antagonist.

The Halloween Tree

Set on Halloween, that point of Fall right before winter... this book is a short, wonderful tale about the history of a lot of our favorite costumes. It's also neck deep in the same kind of creepy flare you find in Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Manga Review: Gate 7 by CLAMP, Volume 1

 Gate 7: Volume 1

Chikahito Takamoto - main character, obsessed with Kyoto history, in High School. I have to be honest, if his name is historically significant, I'm unaware. I know little to nothing about the whole Warring States period of Japanese history, or any of the time surrounding that... so to truly appreciate this story, I'm going to have to do a little research.
Hana - girl who lives in house with sakura and tachibana
Sakura - Tall, light-haired dude who is generally good natured.
Tachibana - Dark haired dude who is generally sour natured.
Hidetsugu - guy with little girl demon oni who seems to be in charge of the house Chika-chan is living in (Hidetsugu represents the spirit of Toyotomi Hidetsugu ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyotomi_Hidetsugu ) )
Mikoto - Hidetsugu's oni
Mitushide Akechi - snotty guy who attacks them with his Oni (who looks just like him with elf ears) (also another of the historical figures ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akechi_Mitsuhide )
Enka - Akechi's Oni
Dairokutenmaoh - most powerful oni, MIA
Nobunaga - human who made a contract with most powerful oni, MIA (also another historical figure: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobunaga )

In the first volume, Chikahito finally gets to take a trip to Kyoto (he lives in Tokyo) to see the ancient temples that fascinate him so much. Unfortunately, once there, he gets sucked into an incident with Hana, Sakura and Tachibana as they battle. Hana then gives him a kiss, which acts to draw him back to Kyoto to live (through a bunch of really weird circumstances)

He moves into Hana, Sakura and Tachibana's house where he acts as chef to pull his weight, and attends a local school. Hana is obsessed with noodles, so having a chef in the house isn't a bad plan.

They go to meet Hidetsugu, who ?owns? the house and decides to allow Chikahito to stay when Hana tells him Chikahito is the opposite of her (not that we really know what Hana is, we just know that Hana says they are alike in the ways of "not"). Chika-chan also finally gets to see an Oni, Mikoto, who travels with Hidetsugu.

At the end of the story they run into Akechi (many of these people (Hidetsugu, Akechi, etc), Chikahito recognizes as historical figures. Akechi challenges them to battle.

Just before that, Hidetsugu's Oni, Mikoto, explains how Oni work to Chika-chan.

The story itself is intriguing, and the main character, Chika-chan, is adorable, likeable and someone I want to learn more about, but the most amazing, fascinating thing for me about this series is the mixing of CLAMP styles.

This series incorporates the beautiful, delicate, intricate, detailed artwork of the caliber you'll find in X/1999 with the adorable, cartoony, chunkier style you'll find in their work like The Tsubasa Chronicles. Over the years, CLAMP has exhibited several art styles, but for whatever reason, Gate 7 has just struck me as the most beautiful marriage between them.

Some examples:

Beatiful, X/1999 style artwork:

This is Hana, one of the main characters... look at that beautiful line work 0_0 Especially around the eyes and hair. These aren't even the best examples... there are some really amazing fight scenes as well... but I tried to choose non-plot important images. XD

Now... here is Hana again:

This is her in a more chibi, adorable, sort of The Tsubasa Chronicles like mode... where human forms get more "cartoonish" in proportion and expression... it's amazing. Especially since in the image above you can see how in the next panel she's right back to being "Serious Hana"... and when you view it in context of the entire manga, it works... amazingly.

What also impressed me though was the mixing of the styles IN one panel. Tachibana and Sakura are almost always drawn seriously... even when others are not:

Chika-chan and Sakura

Hana and Tachibana

I love it, because you can continue to see them as "Two serious dudes" even when everyone else is being goofy.

This isn't the only comic you can find this marriage of styles in, XXXholic seems
to do this as well... but for whatever reason, Gate 7 is the one that has really struck me as the perfect marriage of the two.
Here's another example of a very cartoony style.

Gah, aren't they just friggin adorable?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
by Mary Roach

This book, despite its rather morbid topic, is incredibly interesting.
Mary Roach covers everything from how human corpses first started being used in medical research, to transplant technology, to the benefits of using cadavers in crash simulations to edible delicacies made from human cadavers.

Mary Roach's style is humorous, but respectful, although admittedly, sometimes she just says what we were all thinking. Her work is serious investigatory journalism and each chapter for me was eye opening.

Some of the things that have been done are just unbelievable when it comes to cadavers, or in some cases, to living folks. Roach doesn't shy away from the morbid, so if you are incredibly squeamish, this book is not for you.

It is an amazing, informative book about our bodies lives after our life has ended.
I recommend everyone who thinks they can handle it, give it a go.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

 To join in the Waiting on Wednesday fun, click the image below:

This week my choice is:

Mistle Child
Book 2 of The Undertaken Trilogy
by Ari Berk
Release Date: February 12th, 2013
In life, in death: family remains.

    Silas Umber has finally come into his own as the Undertaker of Lichport when a mysterious invitation calls him beyond the marshes to Arvale, the ancestral manor of the Umbers. There, his extended family endures, waiting for a living Undertaker to return and preside over the Door Doom, an archaic rite that grants a terrible power to summon and bind the dead in judgment.
    As Silas assumes the mantle of Janus, the Watcher at the Threshold, deep below the earth in the catacombs and sunken towers, grim spirits grow restless at his arrival--hungry for freedom and eager for vengeance against a family with a long history of harsh judgments. Now, Silas must right an ancient wrong and accept that even a house of ghosts can be haunted by its past--for in matters of family, we are who we were.
Delving deeper into the haunting world of ghosts, ancestors, and eldritch lore, Ari Berk returns to the series that Publisher's Weekly calls "thought-provoking gothic fantasy," with a style the School Library Journal praises as "reminiscent of the classic gothic works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Shirley Jackson."
I *loved* loveloveloveloveloved Deathwatch and cannot wait for the sequel, Mistle Child. 
You can find my review on Deathwatch here:

and you can find my interview with the author here:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Summer People by Shirley Jackson

 Summer People
by Shirley Jackson

This one was a short story.

I'm not going to lie,
I read it because I'm reading Stephen King's book,11/22/63, and he mentions it in there.

The best part of checking this book out from the library is that I learned that I knew more Shirley Jackson stories than I thought!

She's written a lot of great suspense/horror that we've all heard of, like The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle...

I can see why she'd be a name that King referenced.
She is a master of subtle horror.

The Summer People was a quick read, only a few pages long, about a couple who decide to linger at their vacation home after the summer season is over.

The whole story is beautiful, it tells you exactly what is going to happen to these folks, without *actually* telling you anything.

However, this is not a story for people who need everything spelled out for them in black and white.

This haunting tale leaves a LOT to the imagination, and readers will have to fill in the blanks.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

 To join in the "Waiting on Wednesday" fun, click HERE!

This week, I'm choosing something a little different:

Skip•Beat! 29
Due out: October 2nd

Here's Amazon' synopsis of the issue:

Kyoko Mogami followed her true love Sho to Tokyo to support him while he made it big as an idol. But he's casting her out now that he's famous! Kyoko won't suffer in silence--she's going to get her sweet revenge by beating Sho in show biz!
On the way to the Dark Moon wrap party Kyoko bumps into her cast mate Kijima. He’s never paid her any attention before, but he heard that people called her beautiful when they saw her in her Natsu role. Kijima can’t contain his curiosity and buys Kyoko a total makeover for the party. But is his interest innocent, or does he have wicked plans in store?!

 I *really* love this series. It's a shojo manga, but unlike many shojo manga, the lead character is strong, amazing and incredibly likable. She's no sniveling pansy!
I have read Skip Beat from the beginning, and have loved every minute of it. It mixes drama and comedy seamlessly... and NO, this is NOT A VAMPIRE COMIC!!! 
(I know the cover illustration for volume 29 might have you thinking otherwise, but it's not)

What it is, though, is a good solid storyline that, for a shojo manga, has surprisingly little romance in it. It's more about self empowerment. I mean, are there hot guys? Yes, of course... but are they the *only* thing going on in the main character's life? No.


Yup, there is some maintenance
I've been wanting to do on my blog,
so this weekend, I'm taking part in:

Click the image to join in!

Things I want to accomplish:
1. Update my pages to reflect the reviews actually available
2. fix any broken links
3. *maybe* implement a Halloween theme... maybe.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

To join in the fun of Top Ten Tuesday, click the image below:

When I first sat down to make this week's top 10 list of
The Top 10 Series I have Yet to Finish,
I thought it would be really hard...
then I realized... NOPE.
I have more unfinished series than I thought! 
If the title is in RED, it means that's a series I don't intend to ever pick back up again!

1. The Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie
I read the first book in this series... but I probably won't read the rest unless someone gives them to
me for free. I just wasn't impressed.This was a series where I expected more because of all the hype, and all the talk of the author's contract.

2. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
I've read the first book, which I enjoyed... but then I stumbled on a spoiler on someone's blog (someone not considerate enough to mark that their post contained spoilers) and it just sort of killed my desire to read any more of it. Will I pick it up again someday? Yes, I already own the first three, so I might as well read them.

3. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Here is a book that I felt was just over hyped all around. I mean, yeah, it's really cool that a kid got published (but it wasn't like he didn't have connections), or dedicated himself to something so passionately... but the writing, plot and pacing are all very beginner when it comes to fantasy. His book was a vivid map of all the greater fantasy writers that came before him. It offered nothing original. I won't be reading the rest of this series.. I did *try* to read book two... but when I was hit with the million page recap of book one, I gave up.

4. The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
I really loved the first book in this series... but the second book was *literally* a slow boat to China. It bored me to tears, nothing happened, and reading it was tedious. THEN I was told that about every other book in this series is a slow trip to somewhere... so I stopped reading it after book two.

5. The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie
I have no excuse. I've read book one and two, and only have book three left to read... and this series is AWESOME... I mean it, if you like fantasy, pick this series up. NOW. Obviously I will read book three... but for whatever reason, I've put it off... since I read book one and two over 2 years ago now.

6. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
I will never pick this series back up. I read it through the beginning of book three and realized it was just the same story over and over and over. Not to mention that the author didn't know when to quit, and went well beyond the original number of books that were supposed to be published.

7. The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
I LOVE this series... LOVE IT. I have been reading it since long before the hype, and after the wait for this last book (and the wait was a doozy)... I just can't bring myself to rush into the latest release in this series... because I absolutely fear it'll be another almost decade long wait for the next one ;_;
Will I read it? Heck yeah... but I'm in no hurry.

8. The Abarat series by Clive Barker
Another series I really, really love... but it took Barker 8 years to release the third book. Now... granted, the man had an excellent excuse (very traumatic health issues)... but I am in no hurry to read the third book (which I own, it's sitting on my shelf at this very moment) until the next one comes out.

9. The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
I've read through book 17 in this series... but have just kind of lost my momentum on it. They're fun, light summer reads,  and I'm sure I'll read another one someday... but at the moment, I just don't feel like picking them back up.

10. The Age of Unreason series by Gregory Keyes
I've read the first book, Newton's Cannon, and loved it... and I will read the rest, eventually... but every time I go to buy it or check it out, my boyfriend goes, "But I OWN that entire series!" Unfortunately, they're packed in a box in our basement somewhere, so until he gets off his duff and finds them, I won't be reading them, LOL.

Please feel free to stop by and check out my reviews of two other series:

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

  Anna Dressed in Blood
 by Kendare Blake

There are spoilers in the PLOT section of this review.

Synopsis (via Amazon):
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

The main character, son of a ghost hunter and now a ghost hunter himself, he leads a lonely, troubled life. Personally, I don't like Cas much through most of the book. He's kind of an arrogant ass, and not in an endearing way. He makes assumptions about people, and is very contradictory, one minute thinking he's all that, then the next talking about how he's scrawny... his thoughts don't always mesh.
Carmel: The "It" girl at the High School Cas attends while he hunts Anna, Carmel find herself drawn into Cas's haphazard adventures. She seems to be a decent kid, and is a whole lot more likeable than Cas.
Thomas: Another High School student, and the one who lured Cas there in the first place... he is a mind-reader and a witch (although this book does not make it clear if ALL mind readers are witches or not). He attempts to befriend and watch out for Cas, and is dogged about it, even though Cas is a total jerk to someone who, you would think, Cas would recognize immediately as an important ally.

The ghost. She's obviously tormented, and for whatever reason, can't kill Cas, which allows him to have some deep conversation with her. Is it sad that I prefer Anna's character to Cas?

Cas's Mother: A white witch who travels the country at the whim of her teenaged son. She comes across as a protective, but meek character.
Mike, Will and Chase: The three moronic, predictable goons of the story. Are they jocks? Yes. Are they stereotypes? Yes. Did they offer any surprises? No.
Gideon: The mysterious British voice over the phone... aka, an old friend of Cas's father that we never actually meet, but he conveys really potent, important info to Cas, and gives a little background story concerning Cas's father. He reminded me of Giles from Buffy.
Morfran: Thomas's grandfather... and someone I really expected to step in a little more... I mean... you've got all these kids dealing with crazy occult and ghost stuff... you're pretty informed in that area, and you let the kids do their thing and call all the shots? Hmm.
Cas's Father: Dead from the start of the book, Cas's father is what set him on the path he's on. He died under mysterious circumstances that Cas just can't let go, despite everyone's warnings. 
Tybalt: Cas's mother's cat, he is a special cat who can detect the supernatural... which is evidently something all cats can do, but this one is better at it for some unexplained reason (literally, it's unexplained... Thomas mentions the cat is special... but no one ever says how).

 Writing: One thing I will say about this book, I actually love Kendare Blake's writing style. It flowed, and the description of the ghosts and the atmosphere were just downright creepy. She had my looking over my shoulder in rooms of my own house... and I've lived here for years without anything "spooky" ever happening. She is gifted at creating imagery in the reader's mind.


The VERY end of this book really is enticing. Even though I disliked quite a lot of things about this book, I will read the second, hoping the things I disliked about this book are not quite as glaring in the next.

Ah... the parts I hated most about this book all lie in the plot.
1. THE ATTIC. What... the... heck. Cas and his mother professionally hunt ghosts? They even have a cat who detects them... they clense every house they live in... and yet they neglect to check THE ATTIC???? It's like not checking the friggin basement. This was really, really unacceptable for me, as far as being able to believe this story or these characters... *especially* when Tybalt started freaking out about the attic, and Cas's mother heard things up there that went bump in the night. How was that NOT a glaring warning for them?? When I got to the part where the thing comes down out of the attic, I wanted to throw the book across the room... but it was a library book, so I refrained (I also wanted to smack Cas for literally telling his mother to shut up... it made me like him even less). It was so dumb that they didn't check EVERY room of the house, especially after their little house walk through, and the story of what happened to his mother once before. It made no sense and was an inexplicable, glaring oversight.. and just really bothered me because I felt like the author just couldn't think of anything better, so cheated to get the ghost in the house.
2. LOVE PLOT FROM A MANGA: Have you ever heard of shojo manga? It's the girly love story brand of manga (a manga is a japanese comic), where the characters tend to fall in love within the span of a page or two for no really great reason. Well... that's how I feel about the love story in Anna Dressed in Blood. Cas falls in love with this ghost (who has ripped human flesh to shreds right before his eyes) in the span of pages, and then suddenly trusts her whole-heartedly. Don't get me wrong, as far as characters in this book go, Anna is one of my favorites, but for Cas, Mr. Trust-no-one-even-if-they'd-obviously-make-an-excellent-ally, be-a-total-dick-almost-all-of-the-time, Super ghost hunter on a mission to do nothing but avenge his father... falling in love with Anna seems totally out of character. He literally is instantly transformed from a real jerk into a character I can actually find myself liking... it's why I'll read the second book, because I hope the author relents on his stupid machismo attitude... and there is promise of that... but unfortunately it came at the expense of a believable love story. I get it, he's all swoony and not thinking particularly straight... but his lack of fear around her just makes me think he's an idiot... even Sam took longer to fall in love with a Demon (that being Sam from Supernatural... a tv show with a hauntingly similar plot) than Cas did to fall in love with a Ghost. To me, it seemed just like the attic, a convenient plot device that felt contrived. Would it have been so awful for him to befriend her in the first book, and come to really respect her? There are obviously more than one of these books coming, so why not take your time and make it a rich, wonderful love story... why rush it?
3. TYBALT: Yes, it pisses me off that he died. I hope he haunts Cas and makes his life a living hell!!! This cat did his job 100% and they blithely ignored him. Shame on you, Ghost Hunters, shame on you (and really lame of you too, for supposedly being so experienced).
4. HUMAN VILLAINS WITH NO DEPTH: I mean this... did Mike, Will or Chase do a single thing that surprised you? Nope... very boring human villains. Normally, I wouldn't have an issue with this, but Cas made a point of pointing out repeatedly how clever Will seemed to be.
5. BIG BAD SUPERNATURAL VILLAIN WITH NO BACKGROUND: I can only hope this will be filled out more in future books... I'm hoping the end of this book didn't actually see the end of this villain... because an Obeahman could be really terrifying... if, you know, we had known more about him. I mean, yeah, the whole eyes stitched shut, jaw unhinging was creepy... but other than that, all we got was an info drop on what an Obeahman was, and a pretty skimmed one at that. Voodoo can be some really, really, really scary, creepy stuff... and he's supposed to be creepier than Voodoo? I need to know more to believe it. Just telling me isn't showing me... and what I was shown of him wasn't creepier than what I saw of Anna... so I wasn't really feeling the terror... nevermind we know *nothing* about this specific Obeahman... so he's just some vague, random ghost that Cas's dad had the bad luck of running into.

Believability of World:
I think all the ghostiness works... it's creepy and I like the explanation that people don't WANT to explain some deaths. That works... we've all seen the world turn a blind eye to atrocities, especially when they can't explain them... but Cas's stupidity about certain things and the love story's rushed feel really kill a little bit of it for me.

Overall Grade: C+ ~ I really loved certain aspects of this book, and will read the second one... but there were certain things in this story that really just made me angry... just glaring plot holes, or contrived romances, or generally unlikeable main characters that made me want to chuck this book across the room. I'm hoping book two is a little more well thought out, and a whole lot less convenient when it comes to events that occur within the story.

I would like to give this book a higher score, because I really thought Blake's physical description of the ghosts was spooky and fantastic (and so was some of the emotional conflict the ghosts experienced)... but this book just made me so angry when it came to those other things that I can't overlook that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekly Read and Polish #2

This week's Weekly Read is:

The Curious Life of Human Cadavers
by Mary Roach

It is an absolutely fascinating book...
but as you can imagine... VERY morbid.
It's not for those who have a hard time
handling their own mortality.

This week's nail polish:

Green with polka dots.

There's even a mention of nail polish in the book,
lol, nothing too morbid, just a med student who
was taken aback by finding nail polish on one of
the hands they had to work on.

Here are the colors I used:

First layer (2 coats):
Sinful Colors in the color Happy Ending
Second layer (1 coat):
Sally Hansen Xtreme wear in the color Teeny Greeny Bikini
Third layer (1 coat):
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in the color Chartreuse Chase

Sinful Colors are just awesome!I just discovered them about two weeks ago,
and this is the second color I've bought from them, and it's fantastic.
The best part, other than the longevity?
They're only $1.99!!!
You just can't beat that!!!

I love Sally Hansen products too,
they all hold up really well, and the Insta-Dri *does*dry really fast. Plus the colors are lovely.
They're a bit pricier, though, at anywhere from
$4-8 dollars a bottle, depending
on the type.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Barnaby Grimes: Legion of the Dead by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

 Barnaby Grimes
Legion of the Dead
by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell

 Synopsis (from Amazon)

“The corpses swayed where they stood, their bony arms outstretched before them and tattered sleeves hanging limply in the foggy air. I smelled the sourness of the sewers about them; that, and the sweet whiff of death. Their sunken eyes bored into mine. I was surrounded. . . .”

Barnaby Grimes is a tick-tock lad, delivering messages and running errands all over the city, day and night. Gangland funerals and diving expeditions are hazardous enough, but when the graveyards begin to give up their dead, this tick-tock lad is faced with his deadliest challenge yet. . . .

A blood-curdling tale of greed and betrayal. Will Barnaby be defeated by the Legion of the Dead?

Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell’s incomparable Barnaby Grimes returns for another adventure in the third installment of the brilliantly exciting horror-thriller series set in Dickensian London.

The main character, he is a tic-toc lad, in other words, an errand boy. He makes his living doing this, and it leads him into all sorts of trouble.
Blindside Bailey: An old war veteran who now sells newspapers and lives penny to penny... he has quite the tale to tell.
Professor Pinkerton-Barnes: Barnaby's friend who asks him to try out all his zany experiements.

Illustration: One of the best parts of this series is Paul Riddell's amazing, graphic, dark illustrations.

 Writing: I LOVE Paul Stewart's dark, brooding characters with terrible pasts who partake in terrible actions... these books are lighter than The Edge Chronicles, but still pretty macabre!

Cute, succinct, and nicely wrapped up.

This book was pretty simple, since it is a Middle Grade for the younger audience... but the plot follows a clear, concise line that is easy to follow.

Believability of World:A very well put together world where all of the events that occur are plausible.

Overall Grade: B ~ it was entertaining, but a little slow at points.