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.