Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz ★

Odd Thomas
by Dean Koontz
December 2003

"The dead don't talk.  I don't know why."

This book has a certain notoriety in my family.  My mother read the book first a few years ago and used an entire box of tissues in order to actually see the last few pages. My father, who rarely reads anything, let alone novels, read this book at work, hidden under his desk.  He cried like a baby when it ended.  My brother and sister- also not big readers were so bored one time in a hotel on a military base that they read it too.  And sobbed into their military issued pillows that night.  Needless to say, I have put off reading this book for as long as possible.  What can I say?  I'm a sucker for happy endings.

I got through about three fourths of the book without crying.  As I began the last quarter of the book I turned to my husband and said "I'm going to do it!  I'm going to get through this just fine!"  I continued reading and the tears stayed at bay while I read the final chapters and then the final pages of the heart wrenching tale of Odd Thomas.  I read the last sentence, then the last word.  I closed the book.  I looked at my husband.  I exhaled.  "See?   I did it.  I didn't cry at all."  And then I burst into tears.

I don't know what it is about this book, but Dean Koontz has taken the "I see dead people" theme and breathed so much realism and emotion into it that you can't help but contemplate the tragedy and joy that is the human experience.  I highly recommend this book.  I don't guarantee that you'll cry, or that you'll even like it, but for my family, Odd Thomas is unforgettable.

The Odd Thomas Series - I may or may not finish the series.  Not sure if my heart can take it.

Odd Thomas
Forever Odd
Brother Odd
Odd Hours
In Odd We Trust (Graphic Novel)
Odd Is On Our Side (Graphic Novel)

The Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong ★

The Summoning: Book 1
by Kelley Armstrong
July 2008

This series can proudly set up its float in the teen paranormal literature parade as it takes yet another spin on a popular theme.  When Chloe is sent into rehab for seeing dead people she ends up in a group home with other "screwed up" teens.  What she finds, however, is that rather than being schizo or autistic, all the teens in the home have special powers- powers that are being monitored and experimented on by the doctors who claim they're helping.  Even better, the element of romance in this series is surprisingly refreshing when compared to most young adult literature.  Overall, a very satisfying (if not too short) series that kept me from doing any homework whatsoever for at least three days.

Pros:  There are no vampires in this series as the doctors in charge of "creation" thought they were rather silly creatures.

Cons: The concept of stunningly attractive werewolves (Jacob Black, anyone?) is a little lost on this author.

The Darkest Powers
The Summoning
The Awakening
The Reckoning

Also be sure to check out the follow up series Darkness Rising!

Maximum Ride by James Patterson

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry

Having only read Lois Lowry classics such as The Giver and Number the Stars, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a book titled The Birthday Ball.  Working somewhat off of the classic Prince and the Pauper, the book starts out with a very bored princess, a nearly deaf queen, a king who sits in his counting house admiring his butterfly collection, three horrifying suitors, a handsome village schoolmaster, a variety of singing household staff and a very fat, lazy cat named Delicious.  This zany cast of characters makes for a fun, if extremely silly read.  I would absolutely recommend this book to little girls who love princesses and mothers who love introducing new vocabulary to their young readers.

If you enjoyed The Birthday Ball, try Tales from the Five Kingdoms by Vivian French - another silly tale with princesses.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I'd absolutely give my neck virginity to a Vampire

If you loved Twilight, you're not alone.  Publishers love Twilight too, which means there are plenty of vampire tales to keep your blood pumping until your very own hot, sexy vampire boyfriend shows up to suck you into immortality.  Click on the links below to learn more about each book or series.

For Children:
Dick and Jane and Vampires  by Laura Marchesani

For Teens:
House of Night by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause
Blood Ninja by Nick Lake
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Bloodlines Series by Richelle Mead
Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
Twilight: The Graphic Novel by Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim
The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith
The Eternal Kiss by by Trisha Telep

For Adults:
Insatiable by Meg Cabot
Overbite by Meg Cabot
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
Dracula by Bram Stoker

To learn more about reading lists, browse the about pages.

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

As is often the case in life, there's good news and there's bad news.  The good news is, this book was much better than the first one - and the first one was good too!  It may have been that I was just more familiar with Catherine Fisher's unique steampunk world the second time around, but overall things were less confusing and I was able to focus more on the characters and less on struggling to understand the environment.  The bad news is that Fisher truly does not currently plan on making this into a trilogy or longer series.  According to the FAQ on her website, Fisher left many things in the book loosely tied not to leave room for sequels, but to allow the reader to finish the book themselves.  Similarly, Fisher did not describe a few of the characters in the book so that the reader could create the characters themselves.  The most incredible thing about this is that I hadn't even realized until I read the FAQ on Fisher's website that she had done this.  Which means, of course, that the characters that I had seen running around the pages of these books had been entirely of my own creation.  This was a fun and unique approach and with the confidence I've gained from creating my own characters, I think I'll go ahead and finish the book in my head the way I feel it should have ended.

Many thanks to my friend Amber for sending me an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this months ago.  This book was published in December 2010 but you all would have been really impressed if I'd blogged about it last year when I first received it, eh?

Incarceron (Book 1)
Sapphique (Book 2)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss ★

I have no idea what to even say about this book.  I suppose that means it left me feeling a little dazed and speechless.  Since all my thoughts about this book (which I literally finished about 10 minutes ago) are completely incoherent, I'll tell you a little about the author instead.  Rothfuss began this book in college where he spent nine years trying to decide on a major.  He finally settled on English, which I have to say I approve of because his command of our language is both terrifying and heart breakingly poetic.  I don't even know if breakingly is a word - but I'm sure he does.  According to the bio on his website, Rothfuss plays video games, holds symposia in his home, and is the advisor for the fencing club at the University where he teaches.  Also, this is what he looks like:

Yes, his shirt totally says "Joss Whedon is my master now."  Oh, and he blogs (and posts pictures) about emo gingerbread men that he decorated.


My words seem completely inadequate to describe this epic fantasy and the wonderful world that Rothfuss has created so I'll let his character tell you instead:

"My name is Kvothe.  I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings.  I burned down the town of Trebon.  I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life.  I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in.  I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day.  I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.  You may have heard of me."

Now that I've had a few minutes to sit and think about this book there is one thing I'd like to say.  One of the biggest critiques this book gets is that Rothfuss makes Kvothe (pronounced "quothe") out to be superhuman and godlike - an incredibly talented man with no flaws whatsoever.  Whoever these critics are, they must have been reading a different book.  As far as I can tell, it is the rumors and wild tales that surround him that make him godlike.  The man himself seems to have some serious issues - but that's just my opinion.

The Kingkiller Chronicle
The Name of the Wind
The Wise Man's Fear (TBR March 2011)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Do you have a favorite author?  Is this author your favorite because they write the exact story you want to read . . . over and over and over again?  Characters names may change, the book may be set in a different country, but overall, you're getting exactly what you wanted because nothing ever changes and yet you are still rewarded with the refreshing sense of wondering "what's going to happen next?!" even though you already know.  Cassandra Clare is not my favorite author - but I do have one, and I love her books for just this reason.  If Cassandra Clare was my favorite author, this book would have sent me to book heaven (which I imagine looks something like Beast's library in Disney's Beauty and the Beast).  As it is, however, I like Cassandra Clare well enough that her books always keep me very entertained (and up way past my bedtime).

Clockwork Angel is book one of a new prequel series for The Mortal Instruments.  I very much enjoyed learning about some of the history behind what happens later in the other series as well as the steampunk feel of this world.  The characters, however, felt somewhat recycled (girl who doesn't know what she is meets boy who hates life and wants to push said girl away -until book 3 I'm sure) but as I said before, when you enjoy a story it usually isn't due to the extreme originality, but more to the familiarity.  Oh, and the fact that Magnus Bane (lovely, hilarious man that he was in The Mortal Instruments) just so happens to be in this series due to the longevity that his warlock blood provides him.  So hurrah for that!

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

What exactly is is about the combination of a goth guy and a peppy blonde cheerleader that makes for such a fun read?  Also, why do books with similar themes always come out around the same time?  (See The Ghost and the Goth)  It's like there's someone out there feeding ideas to new authors or something.  Or publishing companies with leaks ("Sure, I'll tell you what the next big thing is . . . for a price . . . ").

In any case, despite having somewhat similar characters to other current teen fiction, this book stands apart.  Relying heavily on a Poe-etic setting (please don't throw tomatoes), Isobel (the cheerleader) is horrified when her English teacher pairs her with Varen (the goth) for a project involving dead writers (enter Poe).  What Isobel doesn't know is that she isn't horrified enough as she is swept into a dreamworld from which there may be no escape.

Thank you so much Leah for recommending this one!  (And a few others I've read recently.)  Also, thanks for nothing - seeing as how yet again I've manged to fly through hundreds of pages only to find that the silly book doesn't end!  To be continued . . . the other "hot" thing in publishing right now.