February 11th, 2010

Bee

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Out of curiosity...
Poll #1524309 Favorite Genre

What's your favorite book genre?

Fantasy
74(34.1%)
Science-fiction
22(10.1%)
Graphic novels
1(0.5%)
Historical fiction
27(12.4%)
Fiction
36(16.6%)
Romance
8(3.7%)
Manga
1(0.5%)
Mystery
12(5.5%)
Non-fiction
4(1.8%)
Young Adult
12(5.5%)
Horror
9(4.1%)
Other (state in the comments!)
11(5.1%)
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Boneshaker

 
Title: Boneshaker
Author: Cherie Priest
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 4.5/5
415 Pages

Summary from Amazon:

In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.



This book flew by. It was suspenseful enough to make me want to keep reading more and the writing wasn't so bad either, which makes all the difference. Briar was a great character - she shows up in the beginning with many masculine aspects and pretty much kicks ass. The story starts off slow (I liked the very start of it, but once they go into the city, it takes a bit for things to really get good), but it does get better.

I do have a few complaints. My favorite character (Dr. Minnericht) was barely seen and the steampunk aspect of the book was on the side. I would have loved more of that since this was my first steampunk novel. Also, the book is set during the Civil War and most of the time I could easily picture it being modern. I just felt like there weren't enough details (or maybe it was the dialect, too) to really put me in that time frame. Other than that, I only have a plot rant.


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Carnival

#17 The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan


Strange things tend to happen to Percy Jackson, but when his math teacher turns into a giant monster and tries to kill him, that has to be one of the strangest. Percy soon learns that he is not an ordinary twelve-year-old boy with dyslexia and ADHD, but is in fact the son of one of the Greek gods, and his divine heritage means that more monsters are coming after him. He enters camp half-blood, a summer camp for training and protecting demigod children. When Percy discovers the identity of his godly father, it sets off a chain of events that results in him embarking on a cross country quest to find Zeus's master lightning bolt, and somehow stay alive in the process.

The Lightning Thief is the first book in the fantasy series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I've been meaning to read it for a while now, and figured with the movie coming out tomorrow, that it was time to stop putting it off. The Lightning Thief turned out to be a very fun read. It moves at a lightning fast pace (pun not intended) and is filled with action, humor, and interesting characters. I enjoyed the modern takes on many of the classic Greek gods and monsters. I also found Percy to be a great lead. I like the fact that Riordan chose to make him suffers from ADHD, and dyslexia, and fact that he has a bit of a temper. I feel that he's the perfect hero to draw in reluctant readers with similar personalities, who might normally scoff at reading a book. I've heard it said that The Lightning Thief is a "hipper" Harry Potter, although I don't think that's quite it. Admittedly, it has a similar set up to the Harry Potter Series (young boy discovers that he has magical abilities and is sent to a place where he can develop them), but I would call it a more American version of that storyline. This can be seen in the fact that we have a summer camp instead of a boarding school. I enjoyed watching how Riordan tweaked stereotypical summer camp events, such as capture the flag.

The Lightning Thief has it's weaknesses as well. There's a heavy handedness to the writing style that didn't always mesh well with me. For example, whenever they would foreshadow a future event, it was if the author put up a giant red flag and said "this is important for later!" If you're looking for subtlety, this is not the place to go. This was the most obvious when building up to the reveal of Percy's father. Throughout the beginning of the book Percy's connection to water is made very obvious. Perhaps Percy wouldn't be the one to pick up on it, but I find it a little suspicious that more informed characters like Annabeth never bring it up as a possibility. Also, the road trip portion of the book consists of Percy coming up against monstrous foes from Greek mythology and having to evade them. Although this was fun at first, it did get a little repetitive after a while.

The Lightning Thief is a fun read with plenty to draw in even the most reluctant readers. Despite it's flaws, I am quite happy I picked it up and do plan on continuing the series.

Rating: four stars
Length: 377 pages
Source: paperbackswap
Challenge: This book is not part of any challenges
Similar Books: The Lightning Thief should appeal to fans of books like The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling (see all of my reviews), Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, and The Wish List by Eoin Colfer, which takes a similar view to Christian figures/saints, as The Lightning Thief does to Greek gods. For more "young hero discovers that he/she has magical abilities and is sent to a place where they can develop them" try both The Magic Circle and The Circle Opens Quartets by Tamora Pierce, and The Heralds of Valdemar Trilogy (also know as the Arrows Trilogy or Talia books) by Mercedes Lackey. The Heralds of Valdemar are intended for an older audience.
Other books I've read by this author: This if my first

xposted to bookish  and temporaryworlds 
han shot first

Hester: The Missing Years of the Scarlet Letter (ARC) by Paula Reed

Have I read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne? Yes. Do I remember any of it? No. Did that affect how I enjoyed Hester? Absolutely not.

Paula Reed picks up the narrative of Hester Prynne and her daughter, Pearl, during the years Hawthorne, at the end of The Scarlet Letter, tells his readers she was in Europe, returning later to America without Pearl; Hester: A Novel explains why.

There are so many factors to consider when reviewing a historical fiction novel--more when that novel is a response to a piece of literature. Paula’s Reed prose, for one, is different from Hawthorne’s. The language isn’t as elevated, separated as it is by time and culture. As a response to The Scarlet Letter, Hester is wonderful--the characters blossom vividly from Reed’s writing. I cannot judge whether, as a historical fiction, it merits marks for accuracy (I would hope so). My knowledge of Cromwell’s reign as Lord Protector is pragmatic and extremely beneficial to one thing only: to help navigate against a vast timeline of literature and place certain texts into the context in which they were conceived and received. To put it bluntly: I know about Cromwell because I had to study texts written during the time or that were affected by his rule to get my degree (not history). While I enjoyed Hester and thought Reed did an amazing job keeping the timeline of Hester and Pearl’s story concurrent with Cromwell’s and that of the nation, I’m not an educated enough layperson to notice whether she grossly misconstrued events, dialogue, or customs. I do feel confident saying I’m encouraged enough by how accessible (and enjoyable) she made the history to venture forth on my own, using, of course, her characters and their timelines, to measure against the real events and how these imagined people may have fit into reality.

( Read the rest of the review! )
Kitty: Angry Calico

Asher, Jay: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why (2007)
Written by: Jay Asher
Genre: YA/Fiction
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)

The premise: ganked from BN.com: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.


My Rating

Buy the Paperback: this is a controversial book, because suicide can be a controversial subject. No doubt, the novel spreads a positive message, but there are negative counterparts that could overshadow the positive. So know what you're getting into with this book: it's about a girl who, before killing herself, sent out a stack of tapes to the people she feels contributed to her state of mind that resulted in her suicide. The book is told from the POV of one of those people, listening to those tapes. It's a very fast read, and the prose is almost too sparse (what do you expect when half is literally story-telling), but it gives the reader a lot to think about. On the positive side, it teaches us that being decent to one another is a good way to live, because we never know how our actions will effect them. On the negative side, I worry that some people might see Hannah as a hero instead of what she is, a girl who really, really needed help to get out of her depressed state of mind and who never got it. I'm glad I read it, as it had me thinking about all the different ways the book could be interpreted, and it's worth reading. IF, like I said, you know what you're getting into.

Review style: this book is pretty controversial, and I want to talk about both sides: why it's a GOOD book and sends the RIGHT message, and why it's a BAD book and sends the WRONG message. So yes, spoilers abound. However, if you're not worried about them (or you've already read the book), then feel free to click the link below for the full review, which may be found in my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome. :)

REVIEW: Jay Asher's THIRTEEN REASONS WHY

Happy Reading!

ALSO:

Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!

February: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
March: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
April: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

Recommendations?

I know how good this community is about giving excellent recommendations so I thought I'd ask you guys. I'm looking for some really good books about witches. I'm open to all genres and all kinds of interpretations of witches just as long as a witch is one of the main characters and witchcraft is pretty much a central theme in the book.  

I know this is kind of a weird request but if anybody has any cool books in mind, please comment?
lolita

Jacob's Room by Virginia Woolf

So, as a huge fan of Virginia Woolf, I have just finished reading Jacob's Room. If anyone else has read any of Woolf's work, you'll understand when I say that it can be quite difficult to understand at times. Beautiful writing, but I could certainly use some outside help in clarifying some of the points of the novel.

Anyone else who read it have anything they want to say about it? I think the area that is causing me the most confusion is the relationships Jacob shares with all the women. Can anyone help me understand better or provide links to sites that discuss the book? I did a pretty lengthy google search and have not come up with anything too substantial.

Thanks in advance!
zooey

Review: The Conversations



Title: The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film
Author: Michael Ondaatje and Walter Murch
Genre: Nonfiction
Pages: 320
First Line: "It is hard for any person who has been on the set of a movie to believe that only one man or woman makes the film."

Summary: In this book, Michael Ondaatje, author of The English Patient and other acclaimed novels, seeks to shed light on the unsung heroes of Hollywood -- the editors. In several lengthy conversations with sound and film editor Walter Murch, Ondaatje gives readers a fascinating peak into the inner world of film-making, and Murch reveals several little-known insights about the iconic movies he's edited.

(Read the review...)