Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of 2010

Best Series of 2010 ~ The Sisters Grimm

I just wanted to take a moment and highlight the top ten books and series I read in 2010.  I hope you find time in 2011 to enjoy these as much as I have!

1. The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley
2. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
3. Maximum Ride by James Patterson
4. The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
5. The Study Books by Maria V. Snyder
6. Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks
7. The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner
8. The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
9. Tales from the Five Kingdoms by Vivian French
10. Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning

I've just spent the last few days completely absorbed in the world of Karen Marie Moning's Fever Series where MacKayla Lane is fighting faery to save humankind.  I have very mixed feelings about this for the following reasons:

1.  The author's name.  Yes, I KNOW it's pronounced mawning as in rhymes with yawning, but it looks an awful lot like moaning.  This is a problem because . . .
2.  I don't usually do "romance novels".  Don't get me wrong - a good romance is essential if I'm going to stay hooked on a series.  Call me a prude, but what I try to stay away from are heaving bosoms and ripped bodices.  Especially the ones that exist as the entire plot and purpose of the novel.  Unfortunately, Moning is a great fan of the genre as evidenced by the "death-by-sex fae" running amok in this series.  I mean, seriously?!  These books would almost have been clean without the super-gorgeous-makes-you-want-to-strip-in-their-presence fairies.  Was this entirely necessary?  I'm thinking not.  Was this entirely fan service?  I'm thinking yes.
3.  Due to the rampant sexuality and language in these books, I would never recommend them.  Not to a little sister or daughter, at least.  But for the sake of being perfectly honest . . .

I love these books!  This series introduces a spunky, pink-loving, all american, deep south, fun loving gal who is thrown into the dark, twisted world of fairies and druids as mankind makes a last stand for rule of the Earth.  To sum up my feelings: fun and absolutely addictive, I can hardly wait to read the final installment of the series- but I would never put these on my shelves at home.

The Fever Series (Loosely connected to her Highlander Series but I've never read them.)
Shadowfever (TBR January 2011)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson ★

After watching this series fly (lol, get it?) off library shelves for years I finally decided to read it after watching a young man literally freak out when I showed him where the series was shelved.  I've never read a book by James Patterson before - for most librarians who don't read mysteries he's just another incredibly prolific, very popular author.  In other words, I have no idea what his other books for adults are like or how this compares.  On its own, however, Maximum Ride is a wonderful addition to the 'genetically enhanced, superhuman teenagers out to save the world' genre that has been so popular in young adult fiction lately.  It's 'genetically enhanced' because six children ages 6 - 14 have had avian DNA (now do you get the pun?) grafted into their own; 'superhuman' as not only can they fly, but they each also have unique "powers"; and 'out to save the world' because it seems to be why they were created-- but do they even want to?  Book One: The Angel Experiment started a little slow, but it picked up after a bit so if you're having trouble getting into it, keep reading!  I certainly plan to!

Maximum Ride:
The Angel Experiment
School's Out Forever
Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
The Final Warning
ANGEL (TBR February 2011)

The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Shade's Children by Garth Nix

Other Versions:
Maximum Ride: The Graphic Novel has Volumes 1-3 out.  So far I think they've covered the first book and half of the second.  The artwork is great (somewhat manga style)!  But I personally recommend reading the actual book or reading the books first and then reading the graphic novel.  Especially since Fang is hotter in my mind . . . for those of you who care about such things . . . and while we're on the subject - is there a cooler name than Fang?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

An underprivileged girl on her own, gentlemen with dark secrets, a madwoman in the attic, whispers and rumors of a haunted mansion in the country . . . if any of this sounds familiar to you, you've probably read Jane Eyre . . . or Magic Under Glass - Jaclyn Dolamore's debut young adult novel.  While much of this book felt overly familiar and seemed to draw very heavily on Charlotte Bronte's classic, there were some new twists and unique elements (such as a cursed fairy prince and evil sorcerers) that kept the book interesting and engaging.  It's definitely worth a read if you're a fan of gothic fantasy though I warn you (as I was not) judging from the ending, this seems to be book one.  Although according to the author's website, there are not currently any plans for a sequel.**

** Jaclyn Dolamore has corrected my bad eyesight (see comments)  and assured me that there is indeed a sequel!  My apologies for not reading her page more carefully.  See her website for more details as they're released.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith ★

I'm not sure how comedic this book was supposed to be, but I literally laughed out loud the entire time I was reading the graphic novel of Seth Grahame-Smith's zombie version of this Jane Austen classic.  For those who are very familiar with Pride and Prejudice (and like myself can quote nearly all of the six hour Colin Firth DVD marathon) you'll love the way the zombie theme has been worked into the original story.  Basically (and I really don't want to give too much of this away), you take the five Bennett daughters, train them in zombie slaying and end up with hilarious dialogue like this:

Original: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Zombified: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.

Original: Yes, and her petticoat; I hope you saw her petticoat, six inches deep in mud . . .

Zombified: Her petticoat was ripped clean off - and there were pieces of undead on her sleeve!

Original: Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her.  He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger.

Zombified: Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her.  He really believed, that were it not for the inferiority of her connections, he should be in some danger of falling in love, and were it not for his considerable skill in the deadly arts, that he should be in danger of being bested by hers--for never had he seen a lady more gifted in the ways of vanquishing the undead.

In short, if you're excessively acquainted with Pride and Prejudice, zombies certainly add a different twist to an otherwise over-read tale.  If you haven't spent hours poring over Jane Austen literature, however, you'll probably have a hard time understanding why I find the following picture from the graphic novel so incredibly awesome.  (Yes, that is our beloved heroine Elizabeth Bennett on the left, and her ever gallant Mr. Darcy on the right . . . have to admit that pictures like these are the reason I'd recommend the graphic novel over the actual book.)

Happy Slaying!

The 10 p.m. Question by Kate De Goldi

When Kate De Goldi set out to write about "the complexity and hilarity in the everyday business of being human" she had no idea she was writing the story of my life.  I picked up this book because twelve year old Frankie worries about everything - whether the smoke alarm batteries need replaced, if the rash on his chest is cancerous and what to do if the world ends and the family's 72 hour kits aren't up to date.  He shoulders immense responsibility and worries about all the small details that the rest of his family seems happy enough to ignore completely in their own carefree manner.  Unable to sleep due to the unending list of worries Frankie has, he ends up in his Mom's room every night around 10 p.m. asking her questions about bird flu and whether or not he's normal.  I myself am an extreme worrier and although Frankie's plight was sometimes humorous, it was mostly horrifying seeing myself in print and embodied in a twelve year old boy.  Regardless, Frankie's insights and some of the ways he ends up coping with his worry were helpful.  If nothing else, it made me realize that 1.) Maybe I'm not as alone as I think I am when I'm lying awake at night worrying and 2.) Life is to be lived - not micromanaged and worried over.  If you're an obsessive compulsive worrier, this book is for you.  If you didn't even know your house HAD smoke detectors, you'd probably be happier reading something else.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade ★

Oh man, this book was hilarious!  So like, one day the super popular homecoming queen gets hit by a bus while talking on her cell phone and dies.  She's a little confused when she doesn't exactly "pass on" and instead ends up hanging around the school.  Lucky for her, the super loser goth guy can see her.  And talk to her.  And even touch her.  (*wink wink*)  This is such a cute book!  The language is very colloquial (much like this post) and the characters are so endearing!  I've never loved a snotty, high school cheerleader and an emo stoner so much!  A must read for fans of the slew of paranormal young adult literature we have to wade through these days.

The Shadow Hunt by Katherine Langrish

This dark tale follows the story of a young monk running away from his abbey in search of grand adventure and squirehood.  What he finds, however, is a mysterious evil and he ends up journeying to the depths of hell (where elves live) and back in pursuit of his boyhood hero who suffers in his own personal hell.  One part ghost story, one part fantasy and one part coming of age, this book was a nice distraction for a few hours.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French

As a special Halloween treat, I decided to read this delightful children's book.  It only took me about 2 hours to read, but it was the cutest little story!  The book opens with the evilest sorceress in the land commissioning a lovely new dress with spider webs, poison ivy and adorable little skulls sewn all along the hem.  Unfortunately, (as is often the case in today's economy) she soon realizes that she can't actually afford the dress.  To raise money she decides to turn all the local royal children into frogs and then blackmail their families for cash to turn them back.  With a charming cast of characters, just a dash of romance and humor, this is a children's book for all ages.

Tales from the Five Kingdoms

The Robe of Skulls
The Bag of Bones
The Heart of Glass
The Flight of Dragons

UPDATE - The Bag of Bones was just as cute as the first book!  I'm very much looking forward to book 3!
UPDATE 2 - In The Heart of Glass we see a little more romantic tension developing and it's just adorable.  :)
UPDATE 3 - Vivian French states that The Flight of Dragons was almost as much fun for her to write as Robe of Skulls.  Cute and enjoyable, this series continues to be one I will keep reading.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Sharing Knife: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold

I found this book through an author read-alike search on NoveList for Juliet Marillier - one of my all time favorite historical fantasy writers.  Beguilement is about a young girl who runs away from home because she is pregnant.  On her way south to look for work she is kidnapped and then rescued by a man who is a Lakewalker - something like a cross between a ranger and a sorcerer.  What they don't tell you at the beginning of the book is that the young girl is only 18 and the strapping Lakewalker man is flippin' 55 years old.  We learn this on page 269 of 355.  After they've spent the entire book spending lots of *cough* time together and the girl asking so many questions about the birds and the bees that you have to wonder how she managed to get pregnant in the first place.  So if you're interested in pedophilia and a little sex-ed, read this book.  If you think you can somehow pretend that two oddly matched people aren't trying to mate the entire time, this book actually has a very interesting (side) plot dealing with magic and evil creatures in the land.  This is actually a trilogy and if I had more time to waste I would probably read them.  Who knows, maybe someday I will.  For now though, I think I'm going to have to take NoveList's recommendations with a larger grain of salt.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey

In a land where the magic of tradition bends people's lives into fairy tales, Rosa must take her fate into her own hands if she wants her happily ever after.  This is the fifth book in Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series and although it does not live up to the first book's standard, it has surpassed book four, The Snow Queen, by leaps and bounds.  The main flaw of this book probably lies in the statement made by Lackey in the introduction to the book where she claims to have written her first comedy.  While the characters seemed to find everything funny and would frequently burst into random hysterical fits of laughter, I found nothing funny or even remotely comical until a ditsy talking unicorn with a lisp made an appearance near the end of the book.  If nothing else, I have been reminded once more that if ever I see a creature in distress I ought to help it on the off chance that the animal is semi-intelligent and will come to my rescue when I am in great peril at some future time.

Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms
The Fairy Godmother
One Good Knight
Fortune's Fool
The Snow Queen
The Sleeping Beauty
Harvest Moon: A Tangled Web (Novella)
Beauty and the Werewolf

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dark Life by Kat Falls

Of all the post-apocalyptic young adult fiction I've been reading lately, this one is the best.  As the glaciers melt, continents disappear, making space such a precious commodity that people are forced underwater to find it.  Pioneers with homesteads in the "frontier" must deal with the inconveniences of life in the deep as well as with outlaws who threaten their new way of life.  Ty's family is no exception and he must choose between exposing a well guarded secret or protecting the homeland he holds dear.  A choice that becomes harder when the line between the two blurs.  This book was scouted for film rights before it was even published.  An excellent last beach read of the year for those of you still living in semi-warm climates.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Exile by Diana Gabaldon

For years I've watched Diana Gabaldon's books leave the library and always wondered what all the fuss was about.  So I was delighted when this book came out so that I could get a little taste for The Outlander series without committing myself to thousands of pages (per book).  From what I understand this graphic novel tells Jamie's (I had no idea who that was) side of the story.  The plot was interesting and not at all what I had thought it was based solely on looking at the covers all these years.  Basically, a woman named Claire living in the World War II era somehow time slips into 18th C. Scotland where she meets attractive, Scottish warrior Jamie.

Claire is not, however, the main character in this story.  In fact, based on number of appearances alone, there seem to be two heroines in this piece - and they were constantly falling out of Claire's dress as it seemed to be in a perpetual state of getting ripped off her by strange men, torn in clumsy falls or pushed up by some unnatural force that disobeyed all laws of gravity.  So yeah . . . I'm glad I know more about the general plot of the Outlander books, but I have to admit I'm not real keen to ken them better.  If anyone has read the actual books and wishes to disagree with me, I'd love a second opinion.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge

For being yet another post-apocalyptic book for young adults, this book was a fairly interesting read.  Reviewers are comparing it to The Giver by Lois Lowry, but with a "feminine twist" and I'd have to say I agree.  In this world of survival of the fittest and the most obedient, an island of women exists completely without men, who are the enemy.  While I thought the premise of the book was very interesting I feel it could have been better done.  For starters, it's nowhere near as emotionally engaging as The Giver despite their similarities.  I am interested, however, in what happened near the end of the book and I think I could be persuaded to read a sequel.

Read-a-Likes: The Giver by Lois Lowry, any post-apocalyptic young adult novel (see this post)

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner ★

I've spent most of my life trying to stay away from the thriller/suspense/mystery genre mostly because Nancy Drew novels had me hiding under blankets for days as a child.  However, in an effort to continue to enrich my literature obsession with more variety (and more "adult" choices), I enlisted the help of my friend from Just let me finish this chapter . . . to help me find a mystery that I would enjoy that "isn't too scary."  Well this was definitely just the book!  I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that it spooked me a little but for a wuss like me that's nothing.

The book centers around a small family living in the Boston suburbs.  Family life is seemingly normal until one day Sandra, the wife and mother, disappears.  Her husband, rather than being grief stricken is uncooperative with detectives and their four year old daughter knows more than she's telling.  Getting to know this family and uncovering all their secrets was so much fun!  In fact, I had more fun reading this book than I've had reading a book lately.  I suppose that means I don't despise mysteries after all . . . as long as they aren't too scary . . . Thanks for the recommendation Bren!

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

This book slid across the circulation desk last week when I was checking books in at the library.  Since the jacket described it as "an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed" I figured it was right up my alley.  And I did enjoy it, but I'm still not sure if I liked it.  The characters were a little inconsistent and the plot and world felt off somehow - as if the book hadn't decided yet if it was fiction or fantasy.  In any case, I can't say I recommend it (especially not for younger readers), but it was a nice distraction for a few hours.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld, author of the New York Times bestselling Uglies series, takes an interesting leap into the world of steampunk in his latest novel.  The book focuses on the events that led to the beginning of World War I with some crazy modifications on the historical allied and central powers.  Machines are pitted against fabricated animals as a young orphaned Austrian prince and a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service do their best to find their place in this war.  Westerfeld's weaponry and world were a little hard to adjust to and the characters got on my nerves frequently, but I have to give the author credit for trying.  After all, steampunk is one of my favorite genres and it's nearly impossible to find good material that isn't produced by Japanese animation studios.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

White Cat by Holly Black

Book one of Holly Black's Curse Workers series introduces us to a world where some people have the power to change your luck or memories, or even to kill you with the touch of a hand.  Cassel belongs to a family where everyone but him has been born with the ability to do curse work.  He can, however, work a con very well and as the book unfolds Cassel begins to see through the facade that is his life as he realizes that he's at the center of one of the biggest cons in recent history.  A little mafia, a little magic and a lot of con work and betrayal makes this a fun and interesting mystery to solve.

Twilight the Graphic Novel Vol. 1 by Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim

I desperately wish that this book had come out before the movie.  Young Kim, who did the art and adaptation for the graphic novel, is incredible!  The characters are gorgeous and sexy and just what they should have been- and that isn't even the best part!  The artwork for this graphic novel is extremely unique in that scenery and locations use real photography with shading or other things sketched over them.  The overall effect is stunning and makes this one of the most beautiful graphic novels I've ever seen. Even Kim's use of color in certain scenes is very well done and not at all disruptive.  The only thing I didn't enjoy about this book was the text and dialogue.  It all comes directly from the book and is as bland here as it was after I'd read the book more than once and seen the movie.  So if you've read the book or seen the movie, then treat this graphic novel as a lavish work of art.

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner ★

I can't even pretend to have read every Newbery award winner out there; but I cannot believe I missed this one!  The Thief and its three companion books follow the adventures of a young man who claims he can steal anything.  Every book has a fun twist so you're constantly guessing if what you're reading is actually the whole story or if there is more that you're somehow missing.  Just by revealing the twist I feel I'm giving everything away since while I was reading the first book (and feeling a bit bored actually) I assumed I knew what was going on.  By the last few chapters, however, my head was reeling and I was more excited than I've been about a book in a long time.  This book definitely deserves its Newbery.    

The series, in order:

The Thief 
The Queen of Attolia 
The King of Attolia 
A Conspiracy of Kings

Dengeki Daisy by Kyousuke Motomi ★

I am so excited about this!  My three all time favorite manga are (in no particular order) Wallflower, Ouran High School Host Club and Dengeki Daisy.  Wallflower and Ouran have both been available in the US for a long time; however, Motomi's work has never been released in English . . . until now!  I'm thrilled to finally be able to share this manga (that I've been ordering from Amazon Japan for years) with my teens at the library.  The plot doesn't follow typical shojo or "girly" manga; a high school girl with friends that crack and hack computers and her pen pal "Daisy" who can only be reached through texting, evade evildoers who want to get their hands on her deceased older brother's top secret software.  What I really love about this manga is Motomi's wonderfully drawn facial expressions and situations that have me chuckling or laughing out loud constantly.  Cute, funny, daring and dangerously romantic, Dengeki Daisy is a definite must read for shojo manga fans.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Foiled by Jane Yolen

This graphic novel, by award winning Jane Yolen (illustrated by Mike Cavallaro) just proved to me once again that American graphic novels and Japanese graphic novels are not created equal.  I really enjoyed the story and the main character; a spunky high school girl who fences.  But I didn't like how quickly it all ended.  American graphic novels all seem to have non-endings.  What I wouldn't give for a real story arc.  Something that spans at least 40 volumes or more . . . although I did just find out that Jane Yolen does at least plan to have this be a 2 volume novel.  Guess I'll wait to pass judgement until the next one comes out.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins ★

Mockingjay is the third book in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy.  The first two books were phenomenal and I was greatly anticipating the final wrap up in book three.  Sadly, everything that could have gone wrong for these teenagers did.  The all too realistic psychological trauma of being forced to fight other teenagers to the death combined with the horrors of war were too much for the characters.  There isn't much of a happy ending here.  But there is, thankfully, an end to many of the things that made life so incredibly difficult for the people in these books.  Maybe Suzanne Collins will revisit this world later so that we might see that the dismal hope at the end of this book created a better present for future generations.

Books in the Hunger Games Trilogy:

Book 1: The Hunger Games
Book 2: Catching Fire
Book 3: Mockingjay

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Inside Story by Michael Buckley ★

After waiting over a year for book eight in the continuing fairy tale saga of The Sisters Grimm, I finally got to read The Inside Story!  It only took me two hours, but considering I started it at midnight last night with the intention of only reading one chapter to "see what it's about" (or so I told Tyler) it was a truly enjoyable two hours!  I really do love these books about two little girls descended from the Brothers Grimm who solve fairy tale mysteries.  As books for a younger audience the plot is a bit simplistic and the heroine has a lot of "lessons" to learn, but I truly love the characters and I'm constantly chuckling or even laughing out loud.  I keep waiting for these books to go big like Harry Potter or Twilight, but even if they never do they'll always be classics to me!  I can hardly wait to read these to my children!

The Sisters Grimm
The Fairy-Tale Detectives
The Unusual Suspects
The Problem Child
Once Upon a Crime
Magic and Other Misdemeanors
Tales from the Hood
The Everafter War
The Inside Story
The Council of Mirrors

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks ★

When my friend Chris recommended this book to me he said that he had read it at least six times in his life so far.  Since I'm almost positive I've never read a book that many times I was a little wary.  Even more so when the critical acclaim on the back cover lauded the novel as a modern Catcher in the Rye.  Since I hated that book I thought I would probably hate this one too.  Plus there wasn't a single fairy or castle throughout.  :)  What there was, was a lot of sex, profanity, weed, theft and abuse in the life of a young, teenage dropout named Chappie.  And I loved it.  And I completely understand why Chris has read this book six times.  This book has so much to offer in terms of understanding our society and ourselves that I think any re-reading would give you something completely new to take away.  Chappie is the unlikeliest hero I've ever encountered in fiction, but for me he is a classic example of salvation, love and friendship.

" . . . so this one day I was standing alone dribbling water from a pail onto the plants like I-Man'd showed me and I flipped my head to chase off a mosquito and saw dreadlocks swirling through the air in my shadow.  Then I looked down at my arms and hands which were like coffee-colored and when I saw I didn't look like a regular white kid anymore I put down the bucket and did a little Rasta dance right there in the sunshine.  It's funny how when you change the way you look on the outside . . . you feel different on the inside.  I was learning that it's true what I-Man'd said, if you work at it long enough and are serious you can become a brand-new beggar . . . " (p. 313)

Disclaimer - I wasn't joking about the profanity and drug use etc . . . proceed with caution.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder ★

Inside Out was a breath of fresh air after reading James Dashner's The Maze Runner.  Which is interesting, considering there was not one bit of fresh air throughout the entire book.  Imagine a giant cube made of metal with pipes and air ducts that must be cleaned and polished to keep the rust and rot away.  Prophets foretell of something called the "outside" which can be reached through the mysterious and elusive gateway.  This is Trella's world, and everything is about to change.  Taking an amazing leap, Maria V. Snyder enters the world of young adult science fiction very gracefully.  If you're looking for post-apocalyptic puzzle fiction, read this!

Read-a-Likes: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, The Maze Runner by James Dashner and to some extent The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I'm usually a huge fan of books like this.  Basic plot: a group of teenage boys have their memories wiped and are thrown into a giant maze crawling with strange, deadly creatures called grievers. Figuring out why they're there, who created the maze and what will happen when or if they ever solve it is the challenge.  I understand that this might be an extremely confusing and traumatic experience for the boys; however, it really shouldn't be for the reader.  Over half the dialogue goes back and forth between "What's going on?!" and "Why won't anyone tell me what's going on?!"  The other half consists of something similar to "He thought he remembered something about his past but it terrified him so he decided not to share the information."  Not even with the reader, apparently.  Sadly, there is a second book.  Happily, I probably won't be reading it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homeland: The Legend of Drizzt Book I by R.A. Salvatore ★

Tyler has long been a fan of R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms series (set in the D&D world).  For awhile I was buying him a lot of Salvatore books about someone named Drizzt; a young Drow prince and dark elf who is banished from his home in the vast underground city of Menzoberranzan who goes on to have lots of adventures slaying things and being pretty darn awesome in general.

Well this extremely popular series that has spawned fan fiction for over 20 years is finally accessible to people like me!  That is - those who love investing 30 minutes in a graphic novel but who aren't necessarily willing to read a book 5,000 + pages long just to relate to their spouse better.  I'm very impressed with how well done this is!  The artwork is beautiful and the story adaptation is fantastic.  Even better than the handsome prince and intriguing plot, however, is the fact that I finally understand why I bought Tyler a panther figurine for our anniversary a few years ago!  I highly recommend Drizzt's tale to fantasy and graphic novel fans alike.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

There was a time in my life when I was addicted to a soap.  I didn't have a job and my only daily pleasure came from the hour that I spent glued to the TV hoping, nay praying that at least one part of the story would advance this week.  I was usually disappointed.

When I saw that the infamous Ms. Princess Diaries herself had written a vampire novel, I checked it out from the library as a joke never actually intending to read it.  Unfortunately for you all, the night before I was going to return it I read a chapter . . . and then another . . . and well, one thing led to another and the Prince of Darkness and a very sexy vampire hunter were both offering, nay begging and praying that cute, little psychic Meena leave her day job as writer for a vampire soap and choose to become a vampire princess or a sword swinging vampire hunter with (snickers) Alaric Wulf (more snickers) instead.

Cliche characters and their cheesy names aside, I must have enjoyed something about this book since I'm actually looking forward to the next book set to come out summer 2011.  Honestly I think it's because I'm a little fascinated with the way the book ended . . . or with the fact that it didn't end at all and is in fact stringing me along in classic soap opera fashion.  I guess in some ways it really was insatiable.  :)

Meena Harper Novels

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison

This book was advertised as "Beauty and the Beast retold - but the Beast is a woman."  So I was expecting something more along the lines of Gail Carson Levine's Fairest, but it was more like Mercedes Lackey's Firebird or Orson Scott Card's Enchantment.  Which probably explains Card's front cover plug - that and the fact that the author is LDS.  This book reads more like a Grimm fairy tale than do most young adult fairy tale romances written in our day.  A little dark, a little more subtle and ultimately a little twisted at the end.  In summary - a moody prince and an unwanted princess agree to marry for peace between their kingdoms.  But the Prince's forbidden magic and the Princess's strange, but beautiful hound make things a little more complicated than they ever could have imagined. 

And with this book I think I'm ready to leave young adult fantasy for awhile.  :)  We'll see how long my resolve lasts.  If anyone has any suggestions for books wildly outside my "comfort zone", please let me know!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer ★

Despite having no recollection whatsoever of Bree Tanner from Eclipse, I really enjoyed her perspective of the Twilight world.  It's too bad that Stephenie Meyer had already sealed her fate in Eclipse as it would have been very interesting to get to know her (and her vampire ninja bff) better.  A short, fast read - this novella compliments the Twilight saga nicely.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ranger's Apprentice Book One by John Flanagan ★

The entire time I was reading Eragon and half of Eldest (yes, that's as far as I got) this is the book that I'd wished I was reading.  Not that there are any dragons but the epic "Lord of the Rings" adventure is all here without any of  the droning Paolini (or Tolkienian) descriptions of dwarves, fauna and languages.  Finally a series to modernize Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles.  Again, not that it has anything to do with a boy who keeps pigs or black cauldrons . . . What it does have is plenty of action, adventure and plot for the most disinterested young reader with at least a penchant for fantasy.  Despite working with somewhat cliche themes and characters the book is fast paced and very well written.  This is a series that I will keep reading!

Beastly by Alex Flinn

I saw a trailer for the movie based on this book awhile back and wasn't really interested.  Seemed like a variation of the Beauty and the Beast TV series in the eighties.  But then I found out Alex Pettyfer was going to be in it and after a cursory glance at Google images I decided the movie just might be worth seeing.  So of course I had to read the book first.  And I was not disappointed.  As a fan of fairy tales set in their "proper" eras I didn't think a modern NYC beast would be entertaining but I think Alex Flinn definitely pulled it off.  Let's just hope Alex Pettyfer does the same.  :)

The Kendra Chronicles

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve

I don't know why I keep torturing myself with Arthurian legends.  They are never written quite the way I wish they were, although I really shouldn't expect much 'happily ever after' from a legend with elements of incest, adultery and murder.  In any case - this one had promise as the main character was not legendary, but completely fictional.  A young girl is picked up by Merlin in his travels and becomes his companion and spy.  Sounds pretty good, right?  And it was for the most part.  I especially loved how dark it was.  Arthur was a grizzly, self-centered barbarian redeemable only in bardic song and legend.  If the book hadn't been so episodic and the romance so silly I probably would have loved it as it actually reminded me a little of Rosemary Sutcliff's  "The Shining Company".  Overall, not the worst rendition of Arthur but certainly not the best either.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Eternal Kiss edited by Trisha Telep

Anthologies of short stories usually aren't my thing but this one had "vampire" stories by Maria V. Snyder, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare that I thought might be worth reading.  And those three did end up being pretty good, but I'm not really a huge fan of stories that end right as I'm getting into them.  The most interesting thing about this book is that it almost puts the fear back into vampire.  The stories aren't about Edward, but about Dracula.  Reminds me of the good ol' days when vampires were still afraid of the sun and never considered vegetarianism.

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

I should have known something was up when I had to re-read the first chapter of this book over and over again.  And not because it was boring.  When you get used to certain genres (like YA Fantasy) then you come to accept and understand the simplicity of the plot and environment.  Oh, we're in a castle, I've read plenty of books about those.  Skip five paragraphs of descriptions about gray stones and the chilling drafts in winter and you haven't missed a thing.  But not this book!  Half the story takes place in a living prison called Incarceron and the other half takes place in a distant future where everyone "pretends" to live in the dark ages.  As my mind is still reeling I think I'll go and have a lie down . . .

Friday, May 14, 2010

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld ★

This is a four book series (I seem to be reading a lot of series lately . . . ) - Uglies, Pretties, Specials and Extras.  The first book was great as it reminded me a lot of other survival fiction I've read.  The strangest thing about these books though is that the main character is the most flawed and confused character throughout all four books.  Which isn't really something I'm used to.  Rather than thinking "Wow, she's so awesome I want to be just like her!"  I ended up thinking "YOU STUPID IDIOT!!  Stop ruining your life and wasting mine!"  So yeah . . . a little different but I can definitely understand why these won awards.  In short - Tally lives in a world where when you turn sixteen you have cosmetic surgery to make you pretty and perfect in every way thus ensuring a society free of jealousy, hate and war . . . or does it?  Thought provoking and fun, easy reads.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit by Mercedes Lackey

I really wanted to like this book.  Mercedes Lackey has written some of my favorite books (The Fairy Godmother and Firebird to name two) but this just flopped miserably.  The worst part is that it was a fantastic book up until the last third!  I was really excited to read her version of the Arthurian Saga and she didn't disappoint in the first half of the book with fun twists on familiar characters and places.  Somewhere around the last third though, she got lost in legend canon and her voice and characters turned into well, the stuff of legend.  It was like the book just died . . . She should have just kept to her own version of the story and screw avalon's mists and sons that want their dads to die . . . seriously . . . ick.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare ★

Wow  . . . the girl on the cover of the second book doesn't have nearly as impressive a chest as this guy.  Silly covers aside - I loved these books!  City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass are probably the best paranormal fiction I've read recently.  I really don't want to give too much away by telling you about them but the entire time I was reading them I was thinking about Harry Potter and I couldn't really figure out why.  I later found out that she used to do a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction . . . maybe that's why?  I don't really get it.  Vampires, werewolves, hot witty wizards and tattooed demon slayers abound!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Study Books by Maria V. Snyder ★

I just finished reading all three books in this series; Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study.  I loved Poison Study!  A girl about to be hanged for murder is given a choice between being executed or becoming the commander of Ixia's next food taster.  It makes for a fun and interesting plot and I think the author did a pretty good job with it.  The other two books in the series didn't even feel like they were written in the same world with the same characters by the same author.  The bishounen is a sissy boy in the second two books, acting like a cliche, clingy, doting romantic piece of fluff nearly the entire time.  I was skipping entire pages by the end of the third book.  So read the first book and if you absolutely just can't stand not knowing what happens to the characters (i.e. if you're just like me) then go ahead and torture yourself with the last two.