October 27th, 2009

Three review in one...


Title: A fistful of Charms
By: Kim Harrison
Rating: B
Pages:544
Summary:  sexy Cincinnati witch, finishes up her latest bounty hunting mission by taking down an alpha Were (werewolf). The book swings into gear when she returns home to find that her ne'er-do-well ex, Nick, has recruited her partner Jenks's son in a criminal enterprise—and gotten them both imprisoned by Weres in Michigan, apparently for stealing a priceless Were artifact. With the help of some borderline black magic, Jenks—a pixie—is given human proportions in order to accompany Rachel on a mission to rescue his son. Finding the jailed pixie ends up the easiest task in an operation that quickly spirals out of control after Rachel decides she must also rescue the errant Nick. Harrison provides conflict aplenty as Rachel debates how far into the black arts she'll venture to accomplish a good end; past and present boyfriends vie for her attention; and Weres battle vampires for supremacy( Summary thanks to amazon.)

My thoughts: I really love this series!!!




Title: Percy Jackson: Sea of monsters
By Rick Riordan
Rating: A
Pages: 30413-year-old
Sumarry: Percy is just finishing up his school year and is looking forward to another great summer at Camp Half-Blood with all the other demigods. But even before school ends, things start happening, and soon Percy is at camp along with Tyson, a homeless kid adopted by Percy's school. At camp, Percy not only discovers that Tyson is a Cyclops and a son of Poseidon, which makes him Percy's half-brother, but also that the camp is in trouble. There's a quest to rescue Percy's friend, Grover the satyr, and to retrieve the Golden Fleece. The plot zips along with plenty of action; lots of mythological monsters, titans, and gods; and a leavening of humor.(Summary thanks to Amazon)

My thought: I really had fun reading this book, while most of the book was predictable the end did shock me, and what I mean by shocked it I can't believe how it end. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
 

 


Title: The Book Thief
By:Markus Zusak
Rating: A+ and 5 gold stars.
Pages: 550
Summary: Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. (Summary Thanks to Amazon)

My thoughts: To be honesty I read 30 pages was getting it and pick it down and I was going to leave it on my desk until it was time to return to the library however I saw someone else was reading and asked about it. And I was told it's a little confusing in the begining but it gets before after page 50.  I picked it back but just to read 20 more pages too see it it got good, however it didn't. It only took five pages for me it get hook into this story! Sadly the 550 pages book was due back the next and since it was a pretty popluar book I had a feeling someone would have a hold one the book. I pulled on all nighter and read the whole the whole book... I've never cried so hard while reading a book. IT was beautiful, it was heartbreaking, It a story that will stick with me for a long time.
 

 

 

 


 

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Sirin eye

"Thais of Athens" by Ivan Efremov - a small review



I have recently finished re-reading a book by one of my all-time favourite Russian authors, Ivan Efremov - but for the first time, I've read it in English translation. The book is "Thais of Athens" - a historical fiction novel about an Athenian woman and hetaira, Thais, who was an actual historical figure during the time of Alexander the Great. But in Efremov's book, she becomes much more than that. She is a muse, an inspiration to artists, a thoughtful woman and enthralling personality, whose life he describes in a fascinating way. There is a joy and strength of spirit that radiates through all his writing. Efremov himself was a scientist (paleontologist) as well as author, so all his books are very well-researched, but unlike most scientific works, his historical novels carry such an incredible power of inspiration and beauty and thinking, that this kind of emotion in a book would be very hard to translate. However, this is a translation I was very, very pleased with! It really carries the inspiring language of Efremov's writing across beautifully.

This is the publisher's site, where the English translated book comes from:

http://www.thaisofathens.com/

and you can buy the book through lulu.com, there is a link there. You can get it in both paper and .PDF downloadable format.

This is a book I can very honestly say has been a big influence on me as a person and as an artist.

There are concepts Efremov discusses through Thais' adventures - not just events in history that the character lives through, but beauty, human cultures, philosophy, religions, and so on. When I first read this book about 10 years ago as a teenager, it really prompted me to consider and think about things in a way I hadn't thought about before.

If I ever have need for something inspiring, I re-read this book. And now that it's been translated from Russian, I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone who reads English. :)
Min/MagnifyingGlass

Halloween Book Giveaway

Boo! (: o] Halloween is coming up, you know, and I am celebrating by giving away two paperback books, both by Elizabeth Bear, "Dust" and "Carnival".

If you're interested in these books, go here for details on how to enter the giveaway.
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Suggestions?

I've been trying to find a good adventure novel to read. Adventure in the sense of the Mummy movies or Indiana Jones. Ideally I'd like a early 1900's setting, but I'm open to anything. Any suggestions?

Thanks.

(no subject)


Hey everyone! 
     This might be a long shot- might- but, I am a BFA Major in my last semester and I need help finding a certain type of book. I'm looking for Novel's in Vignettes, in that the chapters are Vignettes as opposed to traditional chapters. One good example, and I recommend reading it, is "Water Ghosts" by Shawna Yang Ryan (Which, in case you're wondering, is a lovely novel about a town called "Locke" in California in 1928. Without giving much of the plot away, because I hate it when people do that, it deals with Ghosts, Prostitution, Gambling, Life as an Immigrant, and life as a non immigrant in an immigrant town. Basically a win win, no?)
     So, I'm not looking for pop-fiction or genre-fiction really. I am looking for good fiction, if that makes any sense.
     I am hoping, hoping, hoping- someone can help with any suggestions. (And, not Vonnegut- I know he writes in a vignette style often, but he also uses chapters and- I've read everything he has in print already.)
Thanks!
-Igetanotion
Kiss

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld



Title: Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
Rating: 5/5
Pages: 312
Summary: Cal has been infected with a parasite. Most people know it as Vampirism, but people in his line of work like to refer to it as Parasite Positive, or Peeps. While trying to find the woman who infected him, Cal meets Lacey, a girl on a mission to keep her inexpensive but luxury apartment.  Together they find out not only who infected Cal but so much they didn't expect about Peeps.

Review: Collapse )

You can read this book and all others at my Goodreads account.
Books read this year: 45
Currently Reading: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Cage of Stars - Jacquelyn Mitchard



CAGE OF STARS by JACQUELYN MITCHARD

EXCELLENT! (5/5)


I read this book back in late 07 for my first college class, and I loved it. It was one of those books that I had to read in long periods because it kept me hooked. At this time I wasn't as big a fan of reading as I am now, but I loved it. If anything, this book kind of led me to where I am now, wanting to read more. I haven't read any of Mitchard's other books yet, but I want to. Currently I'm half way through reading My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, which is awesome thus far.

Anyway, let me know if anyone else has read this or if anyone else wants to give it a shot (I will convince you to do so, lol). Here's a summary via Amazon:

A young Mormon girl finds herself torn between retribution and forgiveness in The Deep End of the Ocean author Mitchard's latest. Twelve-year-old Veronica "Ronnie" Swan witnesses the murder of her two sisters in her family's yard in tiny Cedar City, Utah. Murderer Scott Early is immediately apprehended, but is diagnosed with schizophrenia and ends up spending just three years in a state mental hospital. The rest of Ronnie's family turns to their faith to forgive Early, visiting him just before his release after a battery of drugs have restored him to normalcy. But Ronnie remains angry and haunted by her inability to save her sisters from him, and as she comes of age she tracks Early to San Diego, becomes an EMT, talks his wife into hiring her as a nanny for their infant daughter, and starts planning her vengeance. But as Early's life comes into focus, Ronnie's plan leads to an unexpected, if overly summative, climax. Ronnie progresses from a stock girl-next-door type to a young woman with considerable emotional depth, and Mitchard understatedly portrays her attempts to navigate romance and other interactions as a Mormon raised very "of the Church." The results are sweet and solid.

(no subject)


I have had the most annoying craving for dystopias.  The latest I read was One, or Escape to Nowhere by David Karp.  I'll review it below, but could anyone recommend others that are very good.  I've enjoyed some such as The Handmaid's Tale (Atwood), Anthym (Ayn Rand), the Time Machine (Wells), Brave New World (Huxley), The Lottery (Jackson), The Giver (Lowry), and Feed (Anderson).  I really don't know why I have such a craving, but I really would appreciate recommendations.

Review:  One by David Karp (1953)

In an Americanized country that reminds one most eerily of a Communist society, the "benevolent State" always works for the good of the citizens.  It expects the citizens, in contrast, the citizens to become a unified whole and support the government and country without thought of thier own egos.  Citizens who are guilty of "heresies", usually that of having egos and personal identities that contrast with the State, are often brainwashed, and if thier case is too advanced, they are killed.

The story details one such citizen's conviction of heresy.  Interestingly, the tale is also told from the perspective of his captors.  The book raise interesting questions about individuality in culture, ones that will be interesting especially to those who are unfamiliar with this type of dystopian fantasy.  If you enjoyed Ayn Rand's Anthem, you will most likely like this one as well.
han shot first

Basajaun by Rosemary Van Deuren

Basajaun (pronounced “Bah-sah-jahn”--last part rhymes with “shawn”) is a bunny, he’s also Cora’s best friend. Cora’s a young girl being raised in 1906 by her father after her mother died of consumption years before Cora can remember. Their small town is being overrun by rabbits and a town meeting is called to find a resolution. When Wayne--Cora’s father--prepares a speech for his non-lethal proposal, he doesn’t expect to be brushed aside so easily. Unknown to him, the town’s called in a Pastor from Australia with a desire to get rid of the rabbits that crosses into an obsession.

Proselytizing the moral dangers the rabbits represent, he drags a young pregnant teenager with him wherever he goes, as proof positive that sin has heavy consequences. Connecting her out-of-wedlock pregnancy to a rabbit infestation by a thin, religiously-fueled thread, the Pastor’s solution is to kill the rabbits--all of them. What follows is an adventure of mystery, magic, adolescence, and romance. Cora must figure out how to save Basajaun’s friends, reveal the Pastor’s true evil, and help Nellie escape his prison home.

( Read the rest! )
coy face

This Week in Books!


Of Bees and Mist
by Erick Setiawan




Review:

One of the best debut novels I've come across in a long time. This novel is like a new-age fairy tale: enchantingly beautiful, captivating, and ensnaring. Centering around Meridia, a girl whose parents are disinterested in her existence, it follows her through adulthood - and chronicles her relationship with Daniel, a middle class boy whose fated to go into the family business. It is a wonderful critique on love, family-structures, and the evolution of relationships. When reading this novel I felt like I was exploring another world completely, and to be honest I'm still not sure if the setting of this novel was during the Victorian era, 1950s, or modern day... all of those details were discarded and the focus placed solely on human relations.

I found the novel structure interesting - it is more than just a coming-of-age novel: you journey through her entire life, and through her eyes explore the lives of the people around her - watching as they grow, change, learning who they are and why they became that way. While it is a love story, it is an accurate depiction of love - happily ever after does not exist. It tackles the trials and tribulations of marriage, the disenchantment that can accompany it, infidelity, and how in-laws really can be the devil incarnate.

Despite its realistic narrative, Of Bees and Mist never overwhelms you or feels heavy and this is largely in part to the author's wry wit. Reminiscent of Oscar Wilde, his tone brings to the table a light-hearted sarcasm that aids to balance the novel. I highly suggest this to anyone who enjoys a well-written romance, coming-of-age scenarios, or is just looking for an excellent work of fiction.

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley



Review:

A fun, if somewhat simple, novel. It centers around Flavia - an 11 year old with an adeptness for Chemistry, and particularly poisons (I think I actually learned more about chemistry reading this book than I did in school :X). After a puzzling bird is left on their doorstep with its beak through a stamp, a murder occurs on her family estate, and the police, having no other leads, arrest her father. Considering her two older sisters worthless, the cook too simple, and the butler/handyman too mentally unstable from war, she goes solo and starts her determined investigation to clear his name. Set in the 1950's, it is entertaining to watch as she sneaks about, lies, and gets into - and out of - all types of shenanigans.

The only critique I have to offer is that the novel felt very forced in some places. For instance, the stamp plays a large part in Flavia sorting out the murder, and exposition into the world of stamp-collecting was given, but it felt more like a plug of the author's own interest and managed to break the flow of the chapter rather than add meaning to it. The same thing occurred with other subjects - it just felt very disjointed. I also thought the plot was a little simplistic - I correctly guessed who the murderer was 150 pages before the main character did which made me feel like I was waiting for the plot to catch up with me. Perhaps this was done on purpose to open the book up to a wider range of readers, I'm not sure. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the novel. It was certainly charming, and in some instances I felt like I was gazing into a looking glass at my own childhood, but this is not the novel to pick up if you're looking for mental stimulation, or a real brain-teasing mystery.

I made it through the entire book in two days, reading only before bed. I would suggest it if you're looking for an easy read, want a book to take on a trip, just finished reading something intense and need an intellectual breather, or are looking for a gift to give your niece or nephew in a subtle attempt to ensnare them into the world of reading and/or mystery novels.


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Also read Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, but as this book is so well known and considered a classic I didn't think a review was needed. Worth the read if you are into supernatural books or want to read the "first gothic novel". I would like to note that Horace Walpole and Hugh Walpole are NOT related, despite certain anthologies publishing the otherwise :)

Also just started Her Fearful Symmetry last night but someone else has just posted a review so I'll leave that alone!

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boyish

(no subject)

hello everyone, i'm looking for some recommendations

being a huge douglas coupland fan but having read anything from him i look for similar writers. smth funny, geeky, witty, yet somewhat darkish and kinda apocalyptic, you know:)

all advice would be highly appreciated
irritated

A Princess of Landover - A (Short) Review



The book ‘A Princess of Landover’ is written by Terry Brooks, the man behind Shannara. Whilst I have read the original Shannara trilogy, I had little time for it as its high fantasy setting was too generic for me. Whilst I am in no manner above high fantasy, as I do care to indulge at times, mainly in Trudi Canavan’s novels, Terry Brooks’ books have always sat uncomfortably in my lap.

 

This leaves one, perhaps, wondering why I picked up Princess to begin with. My reason is simple; Terry Brooks remains in high esteem and Princess was apparently in a different style, which I can confirm. Also it was next to Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals when I went to buy that. I looked at the book and felt interested in the blurb; it seemed a reasonable book, although it did sound rather suspiciously like Young Adult fiction at the time.

 

Whilst Princess is not a bad book per se, it feels to me as if it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. The characters are relatively flat and the apparent budding romantic elements in the book, which are usually an important factor in any book I read, felt as if they were added in at the editing stage. 

 

The eponymous Princess of Landover is the most fleshed out character, of course it helps having the book mostly in first person narrative, as one can hear how she thinks and sees the world. I shall be frank; I found her an unlikeable brat at best. Her constant whining and ingratitude towards other characters, which is unconvincingly resolved at the end under the guise of ‘character development’, is irritating to say the very least. She is a standard spoilt fifteen year old princess and acts as if she knows better than everyone around her, which is irritating when you are not that age yourself. I managed to find Nathaniel in Bartimaeus at least bearable, if not a reasonable lead at times, whilst many were denouncing his character as irritating and unbearable, yet lauding the inimitable djinn. Perhaps this was because I was around the same age as he when reading Bartimaeus, I was capable of completely detaching the characters and analysing them on their own merits; perhaps I am becoming ‘too old’ and have forgotten what it is to be in the mind of a fifteen year old, causing me to denounce the woefully irritating Mistaya as such. 

 

That is probably wishful thinking.

 

Moving on from the apparent failure of the trope: ‘Everything’s better with Princesses’ and regarding the other characters, I felt a sense of detachment pervading the entire book leaving the secondary and tertiary characters little more than flat mouth pieces. The ‘bad guy’, or ‘guys’ if you count Laphroig as the secondary antagonist, appears to have little more sense in achieving his goals as all idiotic superhero villains. The revelation of the plan comes approximately three quarters of the way through, which in this book makes the ‘rush’ to save the day seem a little, well, rushed. The best character in my opinion is that of the Prism Cat, Edgewood Dirk; a fey cat with powers over the electromagnetic spectrum and quintessence. His character is, whilst a little cliché, at least amusing and seems to have more sense and charm than the sum of all the other characters.

 

The setting, Landover, seems to remind me a little of the woods in Narnia as it is connected to all other worlds.  It is your standard fantasy affair with elvish, dwarfish and a medley of other set character types yet at least appears to work as a ‘real’ place a little more than most. The problems regarding language barriers, whilst vaguely coloured in, are nevertheless dealt with. The inclusion of dialects is also welcome as it gives the impression that Terry Brooks may have thought about it other than making up practically unpronounceable and incomprehensible words and phrases like Lovecraft or Paolini.

 

The writing of this book is similar to Terry Brooks’ other novels; which is not the most shocking of statements ever made. My point in saying this is that it is well written with little to go wrong, but neither does it excite, sadly. One major irritation I did find, however, was that of the constant reminders of the events of the past books. This is in no way a new feature of books in a series and was at first useful, as I have not read another Landover novel. However, the way Terry Brooks continues to add in detailed references in place of suitable allusions is distracting and threatens to tear one’s attention away from the already tenuous hold the plot has on one.

 

This book is primarily a Young Adult novel, whilst I have nothing against them; a couple of my most prised books are YA fiction after all, I feel it did little but whet my appetite for a deeper and darker series. Thus, as a concluding note, I leave you with the thought that A Princess of Landover is a reasonable book for a minor distraction, and whilst it deserves to be read and not be forgotten, it is unfortunately not a book I would laud from the rooftops.

 

Comments are very welcome. As a caveat I would warn that this is my ‘first’ review and am still trying to find a reasonable style, so comments/tips/constructive criticisms are greatly appreciated.

coffeelabbit

Crescent

Well I have gotten lots of amazing recommendations on my first post, so I am going to repay the favor and offer one to you. It's copied from an earlier post on my journal, and I just recently bought a copy for myself.

"I must tell you about Crescent, because it's one of the most wonderful books I've read in a while. It's about Sirine, a half-Arab cook at a homey middle eastern restaurant in the Arab district of LA. She's middle aged, reserved, and enchanted by the art of cooking and her uncle's stories. Then she meets Han, an Iraqi expat teacher at teh local college, and they fall in love. But his mysterious past and longing for Iraq are revealed slowly, and suspicions of infidelity start to come between them. What happens in the end is shocking and touching.

The reason I love it so much is the delicacy with which the story is written. First, each chapter begins with an excerpt from an ongoing Arabian-nights-like tall tale spun by Sirine's eccentric uncle, setting the stage for a story that's so full of magic, sensation, folklore, music, and scent. Abu-Jabar's every sentence is full of beautiful descriptions that tantalize every sense and effectively turn Sirine's home in LA into a dreamland blending with Iraq. I also love how the book makes you realize that Iraq is not just the dusty, wartorn place you see on the news. It's also the country of the Beduoins, beautiful mosques, families and friends, old tales, good food, scented breezes, cold water, great hills and vast deserts - someone's home that they long for with every fiber of their being. And who can forget the food - the smells and tastes of food permeate Sirine's life as a middle eastern cook, and they echo  and accent what's going on in her life and her mind and heart. Her cooking becomes a voice for a shy, uncertain woman, a way of connecting with the people in her life and those she loves. There isn't a page that goes by without food smells wafting from the page. The air of the whole book is one of richness and exotic places, while comfortably grounded in Sirine's small world of the Arab district she lives and works in.

I really suggest you go and get a copy of this book. The sensations alone are worth the read, but the delicate drama of Sirine's new experience at love, loss, and jealousy make it even better. Seriously, this is one of my favourite books so far, and I have learned to appreciate and look at things differently from it. Not to mention makes me want to try Middle Eastern cooking. :)"
 

Because secretly I didn't.

(no subject)

Hello!

I have an...unusual request. Does anyone know of any books that feature Shakespeare himself as a character? I'm not necessarily talking about a biography, unless it's presented as a story. I've managed to find a few on my own (Will by Grace Tiffany, The Players by Stephanie Cowell), but I'm wondering what else is out there.

Similarly, does anyone know of any books (along the lines of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead or Gertrude and Claudius) that focus on Shakespeare's characters?

Looking for fiction concerning King Arthur

Hi,

I am very happy to have joined this community and I am hoping some of you will be able to help me ^^

I am a *huge* fan of King Arther and the myths and lore associated with him. I would love to find some more good books that are based around the Arthurian legends. So far I have read;

Le Morte D'arthur by Thomas Malory
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell

Despite looking around I haven't been able to find any more fantasy or fiction books concerning him. If anyone has any recommendations I would very greatful ^^

Many thanks in advance ^^!
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breakfast

Not For Twilight Fan Girls…


I know a lot of you have read the Twilight books and loved it. But for those of us who’ve read the Twilight books and hated them (like me) I’m looking for some requests.

Here’s the situation - my friends and I were loitering at a local bookstore and came up to this display of all Twilight books, merchandise, and all the other YA Vampire Romance Twilight rips which definitely got our tongues wagging. As a joke, I told them that I was going to read all of these rip-offs to see just how many of them were actually better than Twilight (it can’t be that hard to do). I didn’t think I’d take myself seriously: can you guys please recommend some of these books to be published since Twilight that are actually worth the time to read?

I’m looking for originality of plot (Twilight, by the way, had been done before. A popular example? Buffy The Vampire Slayer - see teenaged human girl, falling in love with a hot vampire), decent writing (I’m not an English major, so I don’t know enough to really be nit-picky, but I know what sucks and what doesn’t), and something that doesn’t make me hate myself for reading it.

Thanks, and if you Twilight fan girls (or boys) who read this and hate me for it even though I warned you… I will actively ignore you.

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Literary Costumes for Learned Cos-Players

















1. Cthulhu, from H. P. Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu.
(Cosmic evil never looked so cuddly!)

2. Zombie Hunter S. Thompson, from the inevitable Seth Grahame-Smith release, Fear and Loathing (and Zombies!) in Las Vegas.
(If this actually happens, I call copyright.)



















3. Those Wonder Bread dullards from Twilight.
(Note: These kids clearly went overboard with the white face paint, but they certainly succeeded in capturing the lifelessness of Meyer's prose. My only complaint: NEEDS MORE GLITTER!)

4. Captain Ahab, from Herman Melville's Moby Dick.
(I hate to come off as overly-critical, but 1.the 'wooden leg' looks more like the bottom half of a plastic spoon, and 2.Ahab's drum set had a cowbell.)

















5. Almost every woman in nearly every
Candace Bushnell novel.
(Points subtracted for missing handbag, heels. Points added for physician love interest. You go, girl!)

6. Luba, from Gilbert Hernandez' Palomar stories.*
(Flawless.)

Crave more literary costumes? Click here.