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A Reader of Fictions: September 2010

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Everything Put Together Falls Apart - Paul Simon

Killer Unicorns, Book 1

Author: Diana Peterfreund
Genre: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 392
ARC Acquired From: HarperCollins Author Signing at ALA 2010

In deference to the fact that describing a sequel is really hard to do without dropping some omg spoilers for the earlier books, I am not going to summarize the plot for this book. If you're curious, check out my previous post on the first book in the Killer Unicorns series, Rampant.

Once again, I enjoyed the book about vicious, man-eating unicorns, although perhaps slightly less than I liked the first one. This is not because this one is any less good, but because it is a lot less happy than the prior book. The first book had its share of injuries, violence and tough issues, but this one has very little happy occurrences to balance the badness. Nonetheless, all the pain felt necessary and true.

The issues that Astrid struggled with are back, but she cannot continue to waver. She deals with her relationship with Giovanni, which becomes even more questionable with the long distance element and the reappearance of Brandt. She also becomes increasingly unsure about whether unicorn hunting is a good thing and whether killing unicorns is truly justified by the human lives that will be saved. Family issues must be dealt with as well, from her absent father to her megalomaniac mother.

Ascendant is a good sequel and hopefully not the end of the series. I think there is room for more, although the ending of this book could conceivably end the series. Hopefully not for Astrid's sake. Ascendant came out yesterday so check it out (after reading Rampant, of course)!

Never hides your broken bones
And I don't know why
You want to try"

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Monday, September 27, 2010

The Last Unicorn - America

Killer Unicorns, Book 1

Diana Peterfreund
: fantasy, young adult

Brief Summary
Astrid Llewelyn can trace her lineage back to Alexander the Great, who rode Buchephalus, the largest unicorn ever. She doesn't actually care too much about that; really, she wishes she could hear a lot less about it from her mother, who she suspects may be crazy, what with her insistence on the existence of unicorns. Astrid, her mother informs her, ought to be a unicorn hunter, as only virgin females descended from good old Alexander can be. This mostly just annoys her until the day that her attempting-to-get-to-third-base boyfriend gets attacked by a unicorn in front of her, after which her mother ships her off to unicorn hunter boot camp. She does not know what to make of her burgeoning powers, her heritage, the unicorns or her destiny.


I must confess, first of all, to having been one of the children that Astrid could never understand; I loved unicorns and owned several My Little Ponies with magic horns. Honestly, I still like the idea of them, although in my world, they certainly are not man-eating monsters. Despite my childish love of pretty, shiny, friendly unicorns, I am not opposed to the idea of these blood-thirsty, fanged, venomous creatures either. Peterfreund does something new with unicorn lore, but she sells it.

The book did not really take off for the first couple hundred pages in my mind, mostly because Astrid spent them trying to escape her destiny. She whined and wished for things to be different. While entirely understandable and necessary even, this does not make for the most exciting reading. Once she starts coming into herself more and accepting her unicorn hunter-ness, the book starts moving at a very quick pace.

The action scenes are well done and do not go on long enough to be boring. The book is definitely violent; be prepared for bloodshed and bad things to happen. Peterfreund tackles really important issues, such as what exactly constitutes virginity and rape. She does so very well, presenting ideas without beating the audience over the head with her opinions. These parts really make the reader think. I even think that (sections, at least) of this book could be used in a study on virginity for a sexual ethics course (yes, they do exist, as I took one).

Shameful though it may be thought to admit it, I worried a bit about a book where the main character has to remain virginal or lose what makes her the main character. I suspected there would be a lack of romance and male characters, since romance in paranormal books often equals sex these days. Let me just say that there is romance in this book, although there are no overdramatic declarations of love on first eye contact.

I highly recommend this book for fantasy lovers. It has action, romance and well-drawn, multi-faceted characters that grow and change through the series. This might be a good book for Hunger Games fans searching for something else exciting and fantastical, although not quite as heartbreaking.

"And it seems like all is dying and would leave the world to mourn
In the distance hear the laughter of the last unicorn

I'm alive, I'm alive "

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Keep It Together - Guster

Parable of the Sower
Parable, Book 1

Author: Octavia E. Butler
Genre: dystopia
Pages: 329

Brief Summary:
Lauren Olamina, a preacher's daughter, does not believe in his God, although she would never tell him so, because she loves him too much to disappoint him. Instead, she believes in Earthseed, a religion built on her observations of the world, of which the fundamental idea is that God is change. Lauren's family lives in a walled neighborhood, kept mostly safe from the dangers outside the walls: theft, murder, rape and druggies that light fires that burn out of control in a world where water is scarce. Life is tough inside the walls and, as Lauren knows, it cannot last. When her dire predictions come true and the town is destroyed, she and a couple of survivors have to team up for survival and to search for a new place where life might be better. The roads are dangerous; no one can really trust any of the other thousands of people walking the highways, because they may be plotting your death or to steal your stuff. Lauren wants not only to survive, but to help others by spreading her vision for Earthseed and sowing the seeds of a better life in the world.

Unfortunately, much of this book was lost on me. I feel somewhat unqualified to make a judgment of its quality overall, given my own deficiencies which definitely colored my view of Parable of the Sower. I have never been religious and attended public school for most of my K-12 education, so I do not have much of a biblical foundation. I know the big stories, but a lot of the smaller, but still important, references go way over my head. This book is steeped in biblical references, which I cannot appreciate. Keep this in mind when choosing to read this book.

The dystopian future presented is truly terrifying. The environment has been totally screwed up; global warming definitely seems to be an aspect of that. Water is disappearing and rain is incredibly rare. What water there is tends to be polluted. Inflation runs rampant; a pair of boots (average ones, although in decent condition, but still used) are worth $1,ooo. Some are very wealthy, but most people can only get money by stealing, especially since jobs are nigh impossible to find. Because of the cost and danger of life, the nuclear family is a thing of the past and people now live with extended families. Of course, birth control is now rare and expensive, so even more children are being born, which exacerbates the problems. Even the 'safe' areas are so perilous that almost everyone who can afford to owns at least one gun. A drug called pyro, which makes watching flames dance feel better than sex, is circulating wildly and so are the fires which these addicts are setting. People flood north on foot, having heard rumors that things are better up there, where food and water are easier to come by, but this may be rumor alone. The hard economic times have also brought an end to protection for workers, so slavery has returned in many places.

The other thing I feel compelled to comment on is that Lauren Olamina, because of her mother's drug addiction during pregnancy, is a sharer. What this means is that she feels other people's pain. As a child, she would even begin bleeding when someone else was. This is, I believe, intended to make her somewhat Christ-like, because she is suffering other people's pain and also to give her the motivation to make life better for everyone, not just herself. The idea of a sharer is cool, but, again, I think my lack of biblical awareness may lessen my understanding of the intended implications.

I recommend this to dystopia fans primarily, but reiterate that it will be less enjoyable without a firm knowledge of the Christian religion.

"When we all had finally washed ashore
It was clear there was no one else around
We declared a national holiday
A chance to build it from the ground
So far away from everyone and everything starts today

Let's keep it together
Can we keep it together
We're singing a new song now and everything starts today"

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

In the Dark of the Night - Christopher Lloyd

The Replacement

Brenna Yovanoff
Genre: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 343
ARC Acquired From: Penguin booth at ALA 2010

Brief Summary:
Mackie is not like the rest of the kids at his high school. In fact, Mackie is not really Mackie at all; he is the replacement put into Mackie's crib when Mackie was stolen away by the dark forces in the town. Most of the replacements do not survive, sickly to begin with and unlovable with their sharp teeth and black eyes. Mackie's sister Emma kept him alive with her love for him. He constantly has to guard the secret of his origins and do his best to hide his idiosyncracies, like the fact that metal, including the iron in blood, makes him sick and that his skin blisters if he enters consecrated ground. Even with his sister's love, Mackie's health is starting to get worse; he's dying. On top of that, he's falling for the sister of a stolen girl and the only way to win her heart and save her sister is to face the truth of what he is.

This was one of the books Penguin was really excited about and promoting like crazy at ALA, along with Eternal Ones, which I already reviewed. This book proved to be disappointing as well. The plot was certainly interesting, not one I have encountered before, although I think similar stories may exist. Yovanoff does manage to achieve a fairly gothic feel in some parts, although it is very difficult to make a high school party feel gothic, so it does not work perfectly everywhere.

As may have already become apparent, one of the things most important for me when reading a novel are the characters. I want them to feel real and have a good picture of them in my head. Good characters should feel, for example, like friends I will miss when the book is over or enemies I will love to hate all the way through. I know I make this complaint a lot, but the characters in The Replacement just did not make me feel anything. Character descriptions were somewhat sparse and other than Mackie, we get little idea of what the others are like beyond one or two qualities. And Mackie is hard to relate to, because Yovanoff wanted to make him feel unearthly, a bit unhuman, a bit disconnected. She achieves that, but it meant that I felt a bit bored all the way through. When the characters were in danger, I just didn't care, which I see as a bad thing.

Mackie falls in love with Tate or so we, the readers, are to believe. Honestly, when he first confessed, I was confused, because, approximately five pages before, he was just freaked out by her. If you want to have a romance in your book, you need to sell it, rather than just saying that they are in love now. Poof! Magic eternal love commenced!

I recommend this for gothic fans or Maggie Stiefvater fans. Stiefvater is apparently friends with the author and recommends the book highly, saying that she" loved this eerie and beautiful story of ugly things." There, a contrasting opinion to mine. I welcome differing opinions, because, really, that's what makes people so interesting, right?

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

City of Delusion - Muse

Mortal Engines
The Hungry City Chronicles, Book 1

Author: Philip Reeve
Genre: science fiction, young adult
Pages: 310

Brief Summary:
In a far distant future, the planet Earth is nearly unrecognizable. Much of the world operates under a philosophy known as municipal darwinism. At some point, a technology was devised whereby towns, suburbs or entire cities can move around, which is referred to as traction. These cities roam, looking for smaller cities to swallow up (certainly an interesting metaphor of sorts for modernity). There are forces opposed to this system, known as the Anti-Traction League, who live much more like humans today do.

Tom, an apprentice with the historians, and a low level one at that, skips work to see London capture its first prey in quite a long time; the consequences of this decision propel him into an adventure he never could have imagined. His punishment is to do some work down in the Gut, where the town London just swallowed up is being dismantled. Down there, he finds his hero, Valentine and his beautiful daughter Katherine. Tom falls in love at first sight with Katherine and even manages to save his Valentine from an assassination attempt by a girl with a badly scarred face. The girl runs in an attempt to escape, but he chases her down and learns just enough information to be dangerous to be left alive. Suddenly, he is on the run with this odd, surly girl and unsure of everything he always knew to be true.

Mortal Engines, though I was not aware beforehand, is actually a dystopian novel. In fact, there are a couple of disparate dystopian levels to the book. On the one hand, there are the many references to the downfall of America, which, unsurprisingly, sought to take everyone else with it through the use of insanely stupid and dangerous weapons. The way the world worked back then all changed with something called the Sixty Minutes War (how long does war really need to last with some of the weapons people are now capable of making?).

In addition to the apocalyptic nature of that downfall of one set of civilizations, the era of traction cities is not doing so well. Prey is running low and the mayor of London has all sorts of big, bad ideas. The Mayor, Crome, is a Machiavellian figure who has a major personality cult in effect and does absolutely terrible things to any people deemed unimportant to society.

Despite this depressing setting, the book is actually quite funny in a lot of parts. The humor is well done (although I could have done without some of the scatalogical scenes). One really awesome element was reading about the Museum, which, of course, contained items from the life we live today (Very prominent is the skeleton of a blue whale). The book definitely gets more depressing toward the end and (warning!) some characters do not survive.

Recommended! My favorite thing about this book: the last two sentences (although I also appreciate that the ugly girl is not judged solely by her appearance). I think they set the tone and conclude the first novel in the series perfectly. I will not repeat them here, because you should go read the book and find out for yourself!

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

For My Brother - Blue October

Reckless, Book 1

Author: Cornelia Funke
Genre: fantasy
Pages: 394
ARC Acquired From: Little, Brown and Company booth at ALA 2010

Brief Summary:
After John Reckless abandons his wife and two sons, the family sort of falls apart. Jacob, the oldest son, tries first to find some clue as to his father's whereabouts, which is what leads him into his father's study, a room he is not supposed to enter. In a fit of rage, he starts ripping books off of shelves and pulling down his father's model airplanes. Out of one of the book falls a note on a small slip of paper, which says "The mirror will only open for he who cannot see himself." This leads to an in depth examination of the elaborate mirror in his father's study, behind which he discovers another world. Jacob retreats more and more to the other world, one of fairy tales and war, more and more often, escaping the pain of the 'real world' in his treasure hunting. His carefree life in the mirror world ends on the day when his brother follows him in and gets caught up in a terrible curse. Now Jacob must save his brother Will before time runs out.

When I started this book, I knew absolutely nothing about it, except that it was by Cornelia Funke. Mine is actually a signed copy! Much like with Inkheart, you can since Cornelia's true love of the written world, although here the character escapes into the world populated by fairy tale characters rather than bringing book characters into the real world. Also much like Inkheart, the book is very dark. None of the characters come through as shining examples of humanity; no one is perfect.

The story is interesting, and, I suspect, not over. The ending felt a bit abrupt, so I rather hope there is more to come. If it ends as is, I warn that it is not an entirely happy ending. The fairy tale world is populated with terrifying creatures from fairy tales, more of the original Grimm brothers' sort than Disney's sweet, happy kinds. This book, unlike her others, is not for children or, at least, it has not been written with them in mind. Although I believe it is being marketed to schools anyway, this book seems in a lot of ways best for adults or old teens.

The main weakness of the book for me lay in some of the construction. Funke chose to use an omniscient third person narrative. Although the character most closely followed is Jacob, other characters have chapters from what is essentially their perspective. There are frequent interjections in italics, which represent the thoughts of a certain character. Since she shows the thoughts of many of the characters at various points, she has to clarify which character is meant by including the name of the character in question each time. This means that every couple of pages there will be a thought like this one: "Impatience, Jacob. Say it as it is. After all, it's one of your most prominent character traits." The repetition of the name in the thoughts becomes extremely obnoxious. Yes, one occasionally throws one's name into a self-admonition, but not anywhere near this often. This could have been better constructed.

Still recommended despite a few flaws. Cornelia Funke's books are well-worth the time to read them.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

One More Murder - Better Than Ezra

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Millennium Trilogy, Book 1

Author: Stieg Larsson
Genre: mystery, thriller, political
Pages: 600

Brief Summary:
Investigative reporter Mikael Blomkvist wrote a piece revealing Wennerstrom, a big figure in the stock market,is to be corrupt, but loses a suit for libel when his source turns out to have been a plant. Facing jail time and a bit out of sorts, he accepts an offer he otherwise would not have considered: move to Hedeby Island and write a chronicle of the Vanger family (also part of a large financing business), while also secretly researching the mysterious disappearance of Harriet Vanger in 1966. Mikael is joined in his research by the private investigator extraordinaire Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo.

This series came to me recommended by many people whom I respect, so I was very excited to give it a try. Even so, it took me a while to get into the book: nearly three hundred pages. These pages detail Blomkvist's downfall, his research into the Vanger family and introduces Salander without making her role entirely clear. All of this was not awful, but it was definitely a bit boring at times.

A couple hundred pages in though, the story takes off, when the book switches focus to the mystery aspect of the novel. The researching here is exciting to read about. All of a sudden, I found myself devouring pages and eager to keep reading. The search for what happened to Harriet is incredibly absorbing and well done. The book did not end there though and I must admit that, while I was more invested in the characters at this point, the end was a let down from the middle section.

All that said, I still intend to read the full trilogy on the basis of the quality of this novel. Larsson may include more details than I am interested in at times, but the story itself is interesting. The characters are flawed and multifaceted. I recommend The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to those willing to slog through a bit to get to the good stuff. If you need instant gratification, this may not be your book.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran

Women of the Otherworld, Book 1

Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: fantasy, romance
Pages: 436

Brief Summary:
Elena has managed to build a fairly ordinary life for herself: steady job, apartment, devoted boyfriend. The only thing that mars her normal life is that she has to sneak out of bed once a week or so to go running around the city...as a wolf. Elena is a werewolf (or shifter?). In fact, she is the only female werewolf in existence, since only males can inherit the werewolf gene and women have to be bitten and survive. Elena separated from the werewolf pack, unable to escape her confused emotions for Clay, her love and the man who turned her into a werewolf. She wants to stay with her boyfriend in Toronto, but a crisis calls her back to New York where the pack lives. Mutts, werewolves outside the pack, have started going on a killing spree on the pack's doorstep and they cannot be stopped without Elena's help.

I determined to read this series (well, I was planning to read it anyway, but I fasttracked it) after enjoying Armstrong's teen series. One of my friends told me that this series was set in the same world, so I really wanted to find out. Honestly, I am not yet sure on that. Overall, I found this book less interesting than the teen series. I never got particularly interested in what was happening or in the characters. It wasn't bad, but it just didn't grip me.

One thing that really confused me was the werewolf gene being only male. Is that a thing genetics does? I mean, maybe it could, but it's just odd. Really, it seemed like a choice made so that Elena could be the one all of the guys wanted, in order to up the sexy drama of the book.

Elena's relationships with pretty much every guy in the book also confused me. She has father issues (unsurprising since her parents died when she was young and she was abused by her foster fathers). Even worse perhaps is the sometimes sadomasochistic relationship betwixt herself and Clay. She is as guilty for the situation as he is on some levels, but it made me so uncomfortable to read.

Recommended to paranormal romance fans, perhaps those that liked the Alpha and Omega series (of which I could not even finish the first book). I do not plan to continue with the Women of the Otherworld books, after having read the description for the second book.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Toxic - Britney Spears

Personal Demons
Personal Demons, Book 1

Author: Lisa Desrochers
Genre: young adult, fantasy, romance
Pages: 368
ARC Acquired From: TOR booth at ALA 2010

Brief Summary:
Frannie's life gets a lot more exciting when two sexy new boys transfer to her high school and both want nothing more than to get with her. Well, maybe they want a little bit more: her soul. Both Heaven and Hell are actively pursuing Frannie for some reason, determined to 'tag' her for a final destination. Luc (short for Lucifer) is the demon sent from Hell, who finds himself falling in love with the girl he is meant to be sentencing to eternal damnation. Romantic drama ensues.

This book was ludicrous on a number of levels. Perhaps most obviously obnoxious was the writing, which definitely learned from Twilight. Here is a brief selection, which will demonstrate the nature of the entire novel:

"He smiles his wicked smile and nearly stops my heart. And when he leans in to kiss me, I'm pretty sure it does.
I can't stop my hand from reaching for his face. I feel him shiver in answer and he locks gazes with me. 'Let's get out of here,' he says into my lips.
An achy tingle spreads through me and I smile a shaky smile. 'I know just the place.'" (164)

While the writing tends to be grammatically correct (which unfortunately is not always true), it also does not show any particular special talent at crafting sentences. The first real problem is that his smile nearly stops her heart (not creative, but a fairly common phrase), but (oh noes) his kiss actually does her stop her heart. Umm, no. Am I the only one who has a problem with this? Her heart does not actually stop; this is mere 'romantic' exaggeration. It doesn't stop there, what with her apparently being some sort of puppet on strings, since she 'can't stop' her hand from going to his face. Again, I am not buying it. Then he speaks into her lips. Awkward and ineffective, anyone? Of course, you cannot forget the achy tingles spreading through her throughout the book. He's hot and you want to have sex with him. We (the readers) get it, thanks. No emotion or phrase is not continually harped on, so be prepared for the repetition of these already banal teen exhibitions of love and lust. Not to mention that these phrases fail to achieve their goal, which is to make the reader believe in the love and deep connection between the two. I, for one, am not buying it.

Beyond this, I feel compelled simply to point out a few absurdities bullet-point style.

1) Frannie (actual name Mary Francis) is one of five daughters, all of whom have the first name Mary. Even for Catholics, I see this as incredibly inane.

2) Luc can smell people's emotions. Love smells like chocolate, lust like ginger, anger like black pepper, etc. This is actually kind of a neat idea, but mostly it got on my nerves. Had it been used effectively, it would have been cool.

3) Frannie wants both the angel (Gabe, short for Gabriel) and Luc throughout almost all of the book, even though I am supposed to believe in her deep, forever love for the latter boy. Bull.

4) "He thinks I don't know he's following me all the time. He knows I want my life, and he's trying so hard to let me have it. I don't want to burst his bubble, so I don't say anything, but, really, I like knowing he's there" (302). Frannie on Luc in an example of the Twilightishness of this book. Being a stalker is super hot!!!

5) The book is told from the perspectives of Frannie and Luc. It's kind of hard to play up a love triangle effectively if only one of the boys gets his point of view shown. I mean, obviously, Frannie will choose the guy we never hear from. Right...

6) Apparently all demons look the same in human form, such that Frannie cannot tell which one is lover boy and which wants to eat her soul. That's true love.

I will wrap up with six, what with that being a number the demons would approve of (at least in triplicate). Recommended only for those who believe that Bella and Edward's relationship is the pinnacle of true love.

"With a taste of your lips
I’m on a ride
You're toxic I'm slipping under
With a taste of a poison paradise
I’m addicted to you
Don’t you know that you’re toxic
And I love what you do
Don’t you know that you’re toxic"

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fat Bottomed Girls - Queen

The D.U.F.F.

Author: Kody Keplinger
Genre: young adult
Pages: 277
ARC Acquired From: Little, Brown and Company

Brief Summary:
Bianca has two best friends, Casey and Jessica, who are both blonde, peppy and gorgeous. Bianca is not those things; she is sarcastic, ginger and a wee bit chubby. This never bothered her until the hot, promiscuous guy at their high school, Wesley Rush, pointed out to her that she was the Duff, the Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Ouch. This, accompanied by some major family drama, drives her to make some rash decisions in an effort to escape her life, while also attempting to reevaluate it.

To paraphrase one of my favorite movies of all time (The Producers, the original from 1968): I never in a million years thought I'd ever love a book called The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). I was all kinds of prepared to hate this book, through an automatic, knee-jerk sympathetic reaction for the main character. Being the Duff sucks and I feared the book would mock that role.

From the beginning, I identified somewhat with Bianca. The book opens with her, and her two gorgeous, party-loving friends, out at the local teen spot, where they can dance and hook up. Bianca just sits at the 'bar,' drinking cherry coke (the best standard soda choice) and rolling her eyes at the ridiculous teen antics. She is sarcastic and super not interested in dealing with any of the people there. How can I not identify with a sarcastic, cynical main character who has a forbidding aura when in an uncomfortable social situation?

The revelation of being the Duff too, I sympathized with. There are definitely times where I have been the wingman (winglady?), there to give encouragement and be ignored by the menfolk. This can have positive side effects, such as free drinks for you (since the guy wants to show your friend how kind he is). In Ireland, I performed this function quite a bit. But, no matter how much you mostly don't mind, it does where on you. Even a girl like Bianca, who does not believe in young love or really want a relationship, still wants, perhaps needs, to feel desirable.

I imagine this book may upset some parents, given that the kids in it make some unwise sexual decisions (honestly, they have sex, which is the decision that may anger parents of a certain ilk). Still, the book advocates healthy messages, like safe sex and positive self-image. More than that, this book achieved a rare, magical thing: the characters felt like real people and I could hardly put the book down.

Highly recommended! Seriously, do not judge the title, just give it a shot!

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Strange Magic - Darren Hayes

Faeriewalker, Book 1

Author: Jenna Black
Genre: young adult, fantasy
Pages: 294

Brief Summary:
Fed up with her alcoholic mother, Dana Hathaway contacts the father she has never met and runs off to meet him in Avalon. A brief explanation: Avalon is the city between Faerie and the human world, which is located somewhere in England. Dana quickly discovers that life with her Dad will not be as uncomplicated as she expected, what with his being a political bigwig and Dana being a political trump card because of the powers she never knew she had. Add some boy drama and some violence and you have Glimmerglass.

Like many of the current teen sensations, Glimmerglass has a beautiful cover, which drew me to it. Honestly, when I checked the book out from my local library, I had no idea it was about the fae. The book is better written than many teen novels; Black is quite capable of constructing complex sentences. In fact, her writing style seems very similar to what I imagine mine to be like.

I enjoyed the book, but I did not love it. The characters lacked depth (yes, I know I'm complaining about this all the time). Dana, unlike most teen main characters, acts young for her age and I kept finding myself thinking she was 14. Despite her early independence because her mom was debilitated by alcohol, Dana seemed completely unable to take care of herself. Hopefully, the second book will be a coming of age story for her, where she will mature and learn to take advantage of her powers and stop being a pawn.

Ethan, the main love interest so far, does not appeal to me too much. If Black wants him to be the guy of the series, then she needs to do some convincing. I recommend this to fans of Kelley Armstrong's series that begins with The Summoning.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Who Wants to Live Forever - Queen

Immortal Beloved
Immortal Beloved, Book 1

Cate Tiernan
Genre: young adult, fantasy
Pages: 407
ARC Acquired From: Little, Brown and Company

Brief Summary:
Immortals exist; they technically are not immortal, as they can be killed, assuming you are willing to go to quite a lot of trouble (i.e. severing head and removing far from body). Nastasya (not her real name, merely her current identity) is an Immortal, who travels from party to party with her friends. They booze, destroy property and have one night stands. Nastasya (nickname Nasty...seriously) doesn't question her lifestyle until her best friend Innocencio uses his magic to do something absolutely horrifying. Not wanting to be a part of that and also suddenly afraid of the guy that has been her best friend for centuries, Nastasya flees to a sort of rehab clinic for Immortals, where she can learn to truly live her life.

To be entirely honest, as I generally aim to be, I hated this book for the first few chapters. The only reason I kept reading was determination to finish the ARC, which I had gone to the trouble of requesting. The writing disgusted me, the characters were awful and the story inane. I liked nothing about it. I had had a similarly disappointing experience with the first book in Tiernan's Sweep series (I only read part of book one). Nonetheless, I determined to stick with it and finish it to write a delightfully scathing review.

Much to my surprise, at some juncture in the novel, I suddenly found myself enjoying the story. The pages went by much faster and I actually became somewhat engaged in the plot. The writing did not improve much, but the diction got better when Nastasya began hanging out with smarter people. When she quits the wastrel lifestyle, the book becomes less Gossip Girl with eternal life and more about how to live a good life. The values espoused are actually honorable without being annoyingly preachy.

I don't know whether to recommend this title. It certainly isn't the best YA fantasy that I have read, but it did have an appeal. I will say that I think I will be investigating the sequel, although I cannot promise to like it.

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