June 30th, 2010

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This Book is Overdue: A Librarian's Review

 
This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson is and entertaining and informative book that will challenge any preconceived notions you might have on librarians and libraries today. Gone is the stereotypical shushing librarian that some expect, well I suppose some of still shush. The role of librarians and their libraries have changed quite drastically in the last decade. Johnson does a great job of telling fun narratives of what librarians really do for us, and how they do it.

See complete my review here.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Book Review

 
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith is just what it sounds like. A book about pride, prejudice and of course zombies. Grahame-Smith has taken the original Austin text and added and tweaked as needed to insert zombies into the story. The blending was well executed and seamlessly done. The style and language does not vary, and you can not necessarily tell where changes were made, aside from where there is talk of zombies of course. The work on the cover to keep it looking so like the paperback versions you might find in a bookstore, if you ignore the blood, was a nice touch.

See my complete review here.



Jean

June Book Review: The Hunger Games

Quick Facts:

Title:  The Hunger Games
Author:  Suzanne Collins
Genre:  Science Fiction/Fantasy
Age Group:  Young Adult/Adult
Length:  384 pages

 

From the book jacket:  In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts.  The Capitol is hard and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.  Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games.  But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature.  Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender.  But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

 

After seeing The Hunger Games reviewed a thousand or so odd times at bookish  and seeing that most people seemed to love it, I grew curious.  What stopped me from buying the book, however, were two things:  the cover design and the fact that it was so popular.  I’ll explain both as briefly as I can.  First, from what I could gleam of the cover art it looked to me like a war novel.  It just had that feel to it that it was going to be cold with a lot of military talk and it just didn’t strike me as something I’d be interested in.  Second, I don’t know why, but I’m always the last person to give in to popular reads.  It happened with Harry Potter, then Twilight, and now The Hunger Games.  I think it’s because I fear that it will be a horrible, terrible read and I’ll feel left out and highly confused when others around me will be gushing about it.  Or, maybe it’s because I feel that there’s other reads out there that deserve more love.  Whatever the case for my aversion, I’m still glad that I gave in after being urged by people to give the above mentioned a try.  Where would I be if I had never read a Harry Potter novel?  I shudder to think of all I would have missed.  Sometimes popular reads deserve their status.

 

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Kitty: Angry Calico

McKinley, Robin: Sunshine

Sunshine (2003)
Written by: Robin McKinley
Genre: Horror/Urban Fantasy
Pages: 405 (Mass Market Paperback)

The premise: I can't remember where I ganked the premise from initially for the book club, but I did gank it from somewhere: Sunshine's mundane existence as the head baker at Charlie's Coffeehouse takes an unexpected turn when she drives to her grandmother's secluded summer camp. While she is taking in the scenic view of the starlit sky reflecting off the lake's calm surface, she is attacked by a gang of vampires and brought to an abandoned mansion on the far side of the lake. They strip her of her shoes, dress her in a blood-red gown, and shackle her to a wall. In the semi-darkness of the moonlit room, she realizes that a vampire is shackled next to her.

My Rating

Give It Away: The hype may have raised my expectations WAY too high on this one, I'll admit. Here's the thing, I appreciate what the book is doing and when it was doing it. I like that the vampires are not romantic heroes, that they look like monsters and are meant to incite fear. I like that our heroine responds to this horror like a normal person going through shock, unlike your typical urban fantasy heroine who clearly has no idea how badly she needs therapy. However, the writing style really taxed me and made my reading much more difficult than it would've been otherwise. And maybe it's me having WAY too many workshops telling me the do's and don'ts of writing, so I look at this as McKinley embracing too many don'ts. My critical brain was in overdrive, but I'm willing to chalk that up to a me-thing simply because, hey, this book is a best-seller and who am I to judge? I did, however, wish that McKinley had answered more questions than she raised, especially since this book is meant to be a stand-alone, even though it EASILY reads like the first in a series. Oh, sure, the main storyline resolves, but when the book is over, I'm left feeling a little underwhelmed.

I wish I'd liked this book better though. I expected to, given the praise I'd heard and given how enjoyable McKinley was to work with in her guest blog. But the book didn't work for me, and that's going to happen (again, I think my expectations were WAY too high). Whether or not I'll try a different McKinley title in the future will thoroughly depend on whether or not the premise grabs me. So I'm sad, but I'm glad this book hits a sweet spot with so many other readers. :)

Review style: Two categories, what I liked and what I didn't. I'm probably going to bore you with talk about writing styles, but I have a lot to say about this one in regards to the story. I also plan on discussing the nature of stand-alone books that can also be the first in a series, and whether or not Sunshine owes it to its readers to have a sequel or stay all by its lonesome. Very vague spoilers, so if those wig you out, just skip to the "My Rating" section of the review and you'll be in good shape. The rest of you, read on! :)

REVIEW: Robin McKinley's SUNSHINE

Happy Reading!

ALSO:

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

July: Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff
August: Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente

33-44 Books read in June.

33.) Dead to the world By Charlanie Harris
My rating- C
Summary- Sookie's love interest, Bill the vampire, runs off to Peru to do research. In his place, Sookie is stuck with Eric, Bill's boss (and head vamp for the district), who appears out of thin air buck naked with no memory of who he is or what he does. Coincidentally, Sookie's brother Jason goes missing. Less coincidentally, but more ominously, a coven of witches (who also happen to be shape-shifters and vampire blood addicts) comes rolling into the nearest big city, looking for trouble. Consistent, well-built characters and a strong, action-packed plot that will keep readers guessing to the end

34.) Harry Potter and the sorcerers stone By J.K. Rowling
My Rating- A
summary- As the story opens, mysterious goings-on ruffle the self-satisfied suburban world of the Dursleys, culminating in a trio of strangers depositing the Dursleys' infant nephew Harry in a basket on their doorstep. After 11 years of disregard and neglect at the hands of his aunt, uncle and their swinish son Dudley, Harry suddenly receives a visit from a giant named Hagrid, who informs Harry that his mother and father were a witch and a wizard, and that he is to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry himself. Most surprising of all, Harry is a legend in the witch world for having survived an attack by the evil sorcerer Voldemort, who killed his parents and left Harry with a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.

35.) Harry Potter and the chamber of serects By J.K. Rowling
My Rating: A
Summary- Reluctantly spending the summer with the Dursleys, his mean relatives who fear and detest magic, Harry is soon whisked away by his friends Ron, Fred, and George Weasley, who appear at his window in a flying Ford Anglia to take him away to enjoy the rest of the holidays with their very wizardly family. Things don't go as well, though, when the school term begins. Someone, or something, is (literally) petrifying Hogwarts' residents one by one and leaving threatening messages referring to a Chamber of Secrets and an heir of Slytherin.

36.) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Rating- A
Summary: For most children, summer vacation is something to look forward to. But not for our 13-year-old hero, who's forced to spend his summers with an aunt, uncle, and cousin who detest him. The third book in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series catapults into action when the young wizard "accidentally" causes the Dursleys' dreadful visitor Aunt Marge to inflate like a monstrous balloon and drift up to the ceiling. Fearing punishment from Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon (and from officials at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who strictly forbid students to cast spells in the nonmagic world of Muggles), Harry lunges out into the darkness with his heavy trunk and his owl Hedwig.

37.) Defintely Dead by Charleine Harris
My rating-C
Summary- the telepathic waitress of Bon Temps, La., is off to (pre-hurricane) New Orleans to close out her dead cousin Hadley's apartment. Hadley's death six weeks earlier had been unexpected, since, as a vampire, she was already dead. Still, she'd led a lively existence as the main squeeze of the Queen of Louisiana, an omnisexual vampire, whose political marriage to the King of Arkansas occurred the night before Hadley's demise. Sookie and Amelia Broadway, Hadley's landlady and a pretty cool witch, immediately discover a mess of trouble left behind in Hadley's closet, and Sookie's soon neck-deep in even more.

38.) From Dead to Worse By Charenine Harris
My Raing- C
Summary- Having barely survived a catastrophic vampire hotel explosion, Sookie's back at work in Bon Temps, La., serving vintage blood and waiting tables at Merlotte's, a vampire bar. Participating in a friend's wedding and fending off the advances of her vampire ex-lover, Bill, and her blood-bonded pal, Eric, leaves Sookie chafing over the recent lack of communication from Quinn, her weretiger boyfriend. When a violent Were power struggle erupts as Vegas vampires attempt to take over Louisiana from disgraced queen Sophie-Anne, Sookie dives into the middle of it, determined to help her shape-changing, blood-drinking friends.

39.) Beastly By Alex Flinn
My Rating- C
Summary: beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

 


40.) Harry Potter And the Golbet of Fire By J.K. Rowling
My Rating- A
Summary-J.K. Rowling offers up equal parts danger and delight--and any number of dragons, house-elves, and death-defying challenges. Now 14, her orphan hero has only two more weeks with his Muggle relatives before returning to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Yet one night a vision harrowing enough to make his lightning-bolt-shaped scar burn has Harry on edge and contacting his godfather-in-hiding, Sirius Black. Happily, the prospect of attending the season's premier sporting event, the Quidditch World Cup, is enough to make Harry momentarily forget that Lord Voldemort and his sinister familiars--the Death Eaters--are out for murder.

41.) Beauty by Robin Mckinley
My Rating- D
Summary- This much-loved retelling of the classic French tale Beauty and the Beast elicits the familiar magical charm, but is more believable and complex than the traditional story. In this version, Beauty is not as beautiful as her older sisters, who are both lovely and kind. Here, in fact, Beauty has no confidence in her appearance but takes pride in her own intelligence, her love of learning and books, and her talent in riding. She is the most competent of the three sisters, which proves essential when they are forced to retire to the country because of their father's financial ruin.

42.) Harry Potter and the order of Phoenix By J.K. Rowing
My Rating - B
Summary-As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It's been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero's non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief... or will it?

43.) Harry Potter and the half blood prince by J.K. Rowling
My Rating A
Summary- Ready or not, the tremendous ending of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will leave stunned fans wondering what great and terrible events await in Book 7 if this sinister darkness is meant to light the way

44.) Harry Potter and the deadly Hallows By J.K. Rowling
My Rating: A
Summary-

The heart of Book 7 is a hero's mission--not just in Harry's quest for the Horcruxes, but in his journey from boy to man--and Harry faces more danger than that found in all six books combined, from the direct threat of the Death Eaters and you-know-who, to the subtle perils of losing faith in himself. Attentive readers would do well to remember Dumbledore's warning about making the choice between "what is right and what is easy," and know that Rowling applies the same difficult principle to the conclusion of her series. While fans will find the answers to hotly speculated questions about Dumbledore, Snape, and you-know-who, it is a testament to Rowling's skill as a storyteller that even the most astute and careful reader will be taken by surprise.

****
I took the Summer at Howarts this summer, it was supposed to last until the end of July( HArry birthday) however I end up finishing a month early....

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Title: Long Night Dance
Author: Besty James
Year of Publication: 1989
Genre: YA, fantasy
Pages: 199
First Line: "It was a crazy place to have built a house, on the western cliffs where the wind was incessant, but Ab Drem had gotten the land cheaply in trade."

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Kat is more her father's housekeeper than his daughter. Just like all Upslope women, Kat is required to stay close to the hearth and as far away from Downshore and its savage people as possible. Kat must remain respectable -- and that means covering her read hair, finding a husband to care for, and never singing, swimming, or dancing.

But Kat knows there must be more to life -- she can feel it in her heart. She can hear the call -- the sound of drums beating, drawing her to the forbidden beach. When Kat can no longer resist the call, she discovers what she thinks is a fatally injured seal washed up on the shore. Instead, she has found a Rig, one of a charmed race of mythical seal people. The only way to save this mysterious man is to defy her father and her community and seek aid in Downshore. But does Kat have the strength to stand on her own?

Source: Back of book


Review: Betsy James focused so much, I think, on the way her words sounded that she ignored the rest of the book. Plot was underdeveloped, characters were relatively flat, and the point of the book was totally lost. I have read another book about selkies (the "mythical seal people" or "Rigi" in this book) called Seven Tears into the Sea and it was much better. I may read the sequel to this if I have time, only to see if it's any better. All in all, I was disappointed. Too many things were missing from this book.

Worst part: Betsy was more trying to write pretty phrases than actually get a good story out.

Best part: I liked Nall's name. That's...that's about it.

Grade: D

Other Books by This Author: Dark Heart and others.


48 / 50 books. 96% done!