Archive | July, 2011

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

31 Jul

Peter Pan

Author: J. M. Barrie

Pages: [paperback] 208

Memorable Quote: To die will be an awfully big adventure.

Favorite Character: Peter Pan

Summary:

The classic tale of a boy who refuses to grow up, Peter Pan follows the Darling children as they accompany this boy away from their London home to a world of dreams, Neverland.

Review:

 I’ve been in love with Peter Pan ever since I first saw the Disney movie. It’s taken me until now to read the full novel version of the story, and I wondered if it would meet with the expectations I had set for it. Peter Pan blew those thoughts away, and then some. This story, light and childish while also being harsh and, at times, cruel, was a joy to read. I’ll definitely be rereading this classic throughout my life.

Peter Pan is both mischievous and selfish when he first meets the Darling children, first wanting nothing more than to get what is his and get back to having fun. Then he realizes that they-more specifically, Wendy-have something he wants, and he does whatever he can to get the children to come along with him. The story shows how kids tend to only think of themselves, and that nothing has any consequences. The magical fantasy backdrop makes the reality of the children running away seem less jarring and more adventurous.

This book is certainly more violent than the movie productions let on, but much of it is implied, so don’t think that everything is constant killing. It didn’t detract from the story, but add to it, contrasting the usual view of innocent children with these tendencies that are more adult and foreign.

This book is filled with great quote-worthy lines, and I loved all of them. I’d post them here if I could, but it would take up too much room. Suffice it to say that I was alternately laughing and gasping at the narrative, and I never had to struggle to figure out just what was trying to be said, always a plus with an old classic.

I give Peter Pan 5/5 stars. It was a great, fun read that will stick with me forever. I loved every moment of it, and hope that others who haven’t given it a chance decide to pick it up. It’s more than worth it!

Fractured: Happily Never After? by Joanna Karaplis

25 Jul

Fractured: Happily Never After?

Author: Joanna Karaplis

Pages [paperback]: 128

Summary:

Everyone knows a fairytale or two. They’re the kind of stories that seem to stick with you. Maybe it’s the magic. Maybe it’s the handsome prince. Or maybe they’re just the absolute perfect place to lose yourself for a little while.

But what would happen if Snow White were around today? Would Cinderella still need a fairy godmother? And would the Little Mermaid show up on YouTube?

Joanna Karaplis has put an unexpected spin on Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid; she’s quietly fractured the stories and then reassembled them for the 21st Century. So, while there may not be a whole lot of horse-drawn carriages and magic potions, you can be sure that there will be at least one evil witch and maybe even a handsome prince (or two)…

Review:

I am in love with any and all retold fairy tales. I’d give any of them a try. Thankfully this very quick read was not a waste of time, but rather a delightful way to revisit three well-known tales (Snow White, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid) in new and different ways.

The first story in the book is “Snow White and the Seven Dorks”, and I think you can figure out what tale that is based on. This was quick and smart. I loved reading about Yuki, how she was trying to figure out her life and find where she fit in. The seven dorks were adorably geeky, Kevin most of all. And while the new ‘Evil Queen’ wasn’t as impressive as they could have been, it all worked. I really liked this version of Snow White.

Second came “Cyberella”, which has to be my favorite of the three. It’s written completely in blog posts and instant messaging. At first I assumed the story would be a train wreck because of this, but it actually worked, and made it better. The entire thing was hilarious, had me laughing to myself, and wondering what could happen next. Very well done!

The final story was “Swan Song”. I’ve no idea why it was called that-it doesn’t make me think of mermaids at all. Nevertheless, the story was good enough, until the end. It held great impact, was jarring, but seemed rushed. Perhaps a few more pages would have smoothed it out and done some good.

Overall, I loved Fractured. It’s a very fast read that I’ll turn back to again and again, if I’m looking for something to pass the time. I give it 4/5 stars, and really recommend it to those looking for something short to blaze through or who love fairy tales.

Past Midnight by Mara Purnhagen

23 Jul

Past Midnight

Author: Mara Purnhagen

Pages [paperback]: 216

Memorable Quote:

Favorite Character: Charlotte 

Summary:

Let me set the record straight. My name is Charlotte Silver and I’m not one of those paranormal-obsessed freaks you see on TV…no, those would be my parents, who have their own ghost-hunting reality show. And while I’m usually roped into the behind-the-scenes work, it turns out that I haven’t gone unnoticed. Something happened on my parents’ research trip in Charleston—and now I’m being stalked by some truly frightening other beings. Trying to fit into a new school and keeping my parents’ creepy occupation a secret from my friends—and potential boyfriends—is hard enough without having angry spirits whispering in my ear.

All I ever wanted was to be normal, but with ghosts of my past and present colliding, now I just want to make it out of high school alive….

Review:

 This book was a quick, fun read that I enjoyed although it held no lasting impressions. I didn’t know what to make of it at first, though I loved how Charlotte’s parents aren’t your typical ‘Ghost Hunters’. They strive to disprove any spiritual phenomenon possible, and make a career off of that alone. But when things start actually getting ghostly, they need to face something they’ve never prepared to come against.

Charlotte was an okay character, a typical teenager who is embarrassed of her parents and wants nothing more or less than a normal life. She tries to make friends while keeping them in the dark about her parents’ true profession. I personally couldn’t understand why she was so paranoid of people knowing this, as no one I know would be exceptionally bothered by it, or ready to tease someone about it, and the examples she gave seemed . . . lacking. Some of the decisions she made seemed to make no sense; she’d be terrified of the ‘ghosts’ one moment, then ready to openly engage them the next.

The book was a little slow, with some of the big revelations and secrets predictable, or less shocking than they should have been. Some things seemed to fit together perfectly, while others seemed to miss a little . . . pizazz.

All in all, it was a good read, though not impressive. I probably won’t pick it up again, but I recommend it if you’re into paranomal YA titles or looking for an easy read to get through the day. I give Past Midnight 3/5 stars.

A Nail Through the Heart by Timothy Hallinan

22 Jul

A Nail Through the Heart

Author: Timothy Hallinan

Pages [hardcover]: 336

Favorite Characters: Miaow & Superman

Summary:

Poke Rafferty was writing offbeat travel guides for the young and terminally bored when Bangkok stole his heart. Now the American expat is assembling a new family with Rose, the former go-go dancer he wants to marry, and Miaow, the tiny, streetwise urchin he wants to adopt. But trouble in the guise of good intentions comes calling just when everything is beginning to work out. Poke agrees to take in Superman, Miaow’s troubled and terrifying friend from the gutter. Then he agrees to help locate a distraught Aussie woman’s missing uncle and accepts a generous payment to find a blackmailing thief. No longer gliding carelessly across the surface of a culture he doesn’t really understand, suddenly Poke is plodding through dark and unfamiliar terrain—and everything and everyone he loves is in terrible danger.

Review:

 It took me an awfully long time to read this book, but not because it wasn’t good. I’m bad at reading stuff on my Nook, mostly because I often forget to charge said object. But that didn’t make me lose interest in A Nail Through the Heart. I kept coming back to see how Poke was going to solve this case.

This book had a cast of great characters. I loved all of them. From Miaow and Superman, both young but mature beyong their years, to Rose and Poke, everyone had a distinct personality and I grew to look forward to each character’s next appearance. Even the villians were fantastic in their own way; creepy, maniacal, the stuff of nightmares. Some of the things they were described as having done disgusted me.

That said, there are some themes in here that might offend readers, as I usually review YA titles and I happened to get this adult fiction book. Touchy subjects are dealt with fairly, I think, and not lightly at all. They only enhanced the story and made it more real, and gruesome.

I ended up loving A Nail Through the Heart, though truthfully I started it with many doubts. I’m glad I saw it through, because I became entangled in the story line and entranced by the character’s lives. I’ll be picking up the next book featuring the very same characters. I give this novel 4/5 stars.

Solstice by P. J. Hoover : Guest Post

21 Jul

Today I am very excited to welcome P. J. Hoover to the blog, here to tell us all about her favorite childhood books. For those who haven’t heard of P.J., here’s a bit about her:

P. J. Hoover first fell in love with Greek mythology in sixth grade thanks to the book Mythology by Edith Hamilton. After a fifteen year bout as an electrical engineer designing computer chips for a living, P. J. decided to take her own stab at mythology and started writing books for kids and teens. P. J. is also a member of THE TEXAS SWEETHEARTS & SCOUNDRELS. When not writing, P. J. spends time with her husband and two kids and enjoys practicing Kung Fu, solving Rubik’s cubes, and watching Star Trek. Her first novel for teens, Solstice, takes place in a Global Warming future and explores the parallel world of mythology beside our own. Her middle grade fantasy novels, The Emerald Tablet, The Navel of the World, and The Necropolis, chronicle the adventures of a boy who discovers he’s part of two feuding worlds hidden beneath the sea.

 

Isn’t that cover great? And, without further ado, here’s P.J.:

SOLSTICE by P. J. HOOVER: MY CHILDHOOD IN BOOKS

Thanks so much for inviting me to guest blog over here! It’s great to connect with people who love reading young adult books as much as I do! For those who don’t know, my debut young adult novel, SOLSTICE, was just released in May. SOLSTICE is what happens when MATCHED meets THE LIGHTNING THIEF and is largely set in a future where global warming is destroying the earth. And parallel to this dystopic, melting earth, there exists a world of mythology. So what books sat there in my past and taunted me to write about a combination of dystopia and mythology?

I have to start my list with THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. This was the book for me that made the difference. My third grade teacher read it aloud, and fantasy was born. I can still taste Turkish Delight when I think about it. I wanted to be a part of Narnia, and I couldn’t wait for more. But after Narnia, my elementary years were filled pretty much with NANCY DREW and TRIXIE BELDON. See, the author of Trixie Beldon was the first author I even actually met. For those who think author visits don’t have an impact, I have to stand up and disagree. She visited our sixth grade class, and aside from thinking she was a complete rockstar, I went out and bought 36 books and read them in the next couple months. Loved Nancy and Trixie.

Middle school started with something my fellow writer K. A. Holt and I discuss as being a true dystopia. Society had gone through huge upheaval, and the world would never be the same. I was fascinated by this world, and couldn’t get enough. Yes, I read GONE WITH THE WIND seven times. Loved it. I wanted to be a southern belle. I was convinced if time travel were only possible, I could be. Really, I just liked the fancy dresses. But in eighth grade, something new came along. Enter LORD OF THE RINGS.

Wow. Yes, I need to repeat that. Wow. THE HOBBIT remains my all time favorite book. From this point on, I determined the only classics I liked or was ever going to like were fantasy and science fiction, and this was confirmed when I came across BRAVE NEW WORLD which was yet another dystopia. Such a crazy, vivid look at the future. And the ideas it put forth blew my mind.

But I have to address the mythology aspects of my reading past, too. Edith Hamilton started it all with MYTHOLOGY, but then high school brought SOPHOCLES and BEOWULF and Homer. Just thinking about all these old books makes me want to go back and live my past all over again. And isn’t that where the power of books comes in anyway? Feeling like we are so deep in the story that we are actually a part of the world?

I recommend for anyone who wants to feel like they are a part of SOLSTICE to travel to Austin,Texasin the blazing hot summer. During a drought would be the best. Kind of like now, actually J Thanks so much for reading, and may your summer be a sizzling one!

 

SOLSTICE is available as a $2.99 eBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and iBooks. SOLSTICE will be released in paperback this summer.

Thanks for stopping by, P.J.! And here’s the book trailer for Solstice:

Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

21 Jul

Cryer’s Cross

Author: Lisa McMann [also wrote Fade]

Pages [hardcover]: 223

Memorable Quote: I highly regret this day in advance.

Favorite Characters: Jacian & Nico

Summary:

The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on… until Kendall’s boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it’s crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear…and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating…and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico’s mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

Review:

Have you ever encountered a book cover where you can look at it a million times without really seeing it? Without bothering to decipher the images on front, only seeing the title, maybe the author? That’s how I looked at Cryer’s Cross, I don’t know why, until the very end. Then I realized just how perfect the cover was, creepy and eerily poignant to the story.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this book. I knew there’d be a mystery to solve, a paranormal aspect to the disappearance, and that’s about it. At any rate, I was interested enough to pick it up, and delve into the fabulously written setting. As I’ve never lived in a town as small as Kendall’s, I hoped it wouldn’t be hard to imagine what she was going through. But everything was incredibly detailed that I could really picture everything that was happening.

The story was slow going, even if it did have a great array of characters. From Kendall, who has to deal with OCD as well as figure out why her best friend vanished, to Jacian, recently arrived in Cryer’s Cross and not very happy about that, either. I loved reading about book of them, as well as the supporting characters that came along.

The entire thing was vaguely predictable and wasn’t as shocking as I’d originally expected, though there were good moments in the explanation stages that sucked me back into the story. I think this is a good read-not great, but definitely worth my time. I’m not sure if I’ll read it again, but I liked it while it lasted. I give Cryer’s Cross 4/5 stars.

Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

20 Jul

 
Peter and the Shadow Thieves

Authors: Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

Peter and the Starcatchers #2
Book 1: Peter and the Starcatchers
Book 3: Peter and the Secret of Rundoon

Pages [hardcover]: 576

Memorable Quote: The boys had asked why, if it acted slowly, was it called quicksand. The Mollusks had replied that, as far as they were concerned, most English names for things were silly. The word that they used for quicksand was a deep grunt that translated roughly to “uh-oh”.

Favorite Characters: Peter & Tink

Summary:

The sequel to Peter and the Starcatchers grabs you by the collar and pins you against a wall. In this exciting novel, Peter abandons the calm of Mollusk Island to pursue a dangerous mission in the dark, distant streets of London. With Tinker Bell as his companion, Peter searches through the unfriendly great city even as the slithering man/beast called Lord Ombra hovers nearby, plotting to unleash his dreaded powers.

Review:

I really loved the first book in this series, Peter and the Starcatchers, as well as the classic it is based on, Peter Pan. This sequel was not a disappointment, continuing the magical fun with Peter hiding on a ship bound for England, determined to save Molly from a horrible fate, a jealous pixie-excuse me, bird-girl-named Tink, and a band of orphaned boys who loyally follow Peter, but are steadily growing older, as he remains young.

This book wasn’t as fast paced as the first, or as gripping, though it didn’t lack for that. It was sort of expected, and not entirely worrisome. I loved reading about Peter, who is an awesome character in these books, trying to figure out his relationship with Molly, the boys, and himself. He knows he can never live like a normal person, but that doesn’t keep him from wanting to.

The evil characters keep getting better and better. Lord Ombra was the epitome of creepy, slinking around and making me cringe every time he came near someone else. Even though he was awesome, I would not want to run into that guy. A familiar foe returns in Shadow Thieves and plots against the flying boy and his friends.

There was never a dull moment, never a time when I questioned why on earth I was reading this book. I’m just thankful it was labeled as young adult in my library, as I wasn’t sure if it would slip away into the children’s shelves. There are several things that bring the level up-deaths and things like that-but I think that anyone could really enjoy it, if they love a good, adventurous fairy tale, and have the mind of a child in their hearts.

I give Peter and the Shadow Thieves 5/5 stars. I’ve already rented the 3rd installment from the library-that’s how excited I was to continue this series. I can’t wait to see what these authors come up with next!

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty

17 Jul

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor

Author: Jaclyn Moriarty

Pages [hardcover]: 479

Opening Lines: After midnight, the apartment waited, still in the moonlight and the heat. A moth touched its wing to the front porch light, and the apartment cleared its throat sharply.

Memorable Quote: When she got back from taking Cassie to school Fancy knew that she ought to be working on her wilderness romance. She had promised thirty thousand words to her editor by tomorrow, and she had only written eleven. Specifically:
His rhinoceros smelled like a poppadom: sweaty, salty, strange and strong.
Her editor would cut that line.

Favorite Characters: The Canadian next door & Cassie

Summary:

The Zing family lives in a world of misguided spell books, singular poetry, and state-of-the-art surveillance equipment. They use these things to protect the Zing Family Secret one so huge it draws the family to the garden shed for meetings every Friday night.

Into their world comes socially isolated middle grader Listen Taylor, whose father is dating a Zing. Enter Cath Murphy, a young teacher at the elementary school that Cassie Zing attends, suffering from a broken heart. How will the worlds of these two young woman connect? Only the reader can know!

Review:

This book definitely caught me by surprise. I picked it up randomly, expecting to enjoy it because I’ve read a few other books by Jaclyn Moriarty and loved them; they each had their own writing style and unique way of drawing me into the story. The Spell Book of Listen Taylor was no different in that respect. It was told through a variety of characters who all had their own specific quirks and personalities that came through in the text.

I’d like to get what I disliked about the book out of the way so I can get to the good things. First off, I have no idea why this novel is marketed as a young adult book. I read somewhere that it was originally published as adult fiction, but that changed somewhere along the way. But most of the main characters-and this book follows many different characters-are adults, around 30. Only one is YA aged-Listen is 12. So much of the writing centers around ‘adult’ subjects-affairs, marriage, commitment-that doesn’t apply to someone my own age, though that doesn’t mean it’s automatically not interesting. Even though I haven’t exactly experienced these things, I could still get into the book and want the best for the characters.

Another thing is that it is long, and needlessly so. Sure, I liked reading all the little things that added together to make an incredible book, but the journey seemed to take longer than necessary. I’ve read books of this length before, and they’re usually packed with action. While I enjoyed the flashbacks, back stories, side plots, and tiny things that connected the characters, something seemed off about it. Perhaps less would be more, even though I ended up liking the excess.

Yes, I did like The Spell Book of Listen Taylor. At some points it was so ridiculously funny I wanted to burst out laughing, even when I was in a public place, where such a thing would be incredibly awkward. This is one of the most twisty, anything-goes, hilarious books I’ve read in a while. It’s not perfect, but I’m alright with that.

The characters were fantastic, from little Cassie to Mrs. Zing. They all had their flaws, some prominently displayed, some hidden. All needed to work out their own problems, and find their own happiness. I keep flipping the pages so I could figure out what would happen next with Listen’s spell book, and what exactly the Zing Family Secret was. I loved coming along for the ride, and I can’t wait to read more by Jaclyn Moriarty. I give The Spell Book of Listen Taylor 4/5 stars.

Teaser Tuesday 7-12-11

12 Jul

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

This week’s teaser is from The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty:

And all the time, she was really just waiting until Monday, and her heart was beating quickly and excitedly, because she knew that it would all work out. Somehow, it would all work out, and nobody would end up getting hurt.

That’s taken from pg. 249.

I’m around halfway through this book and loving it so far. I don’t think I’ve ever read something more random, funny, and addicting. My full review will probably be up in a few days. (:

Shine by Lauren Myracle

11 Jul

Shine

Author: Lauren Myracle

Pages [hardcover]: 376

First Thoughts: I’ve loved every book of Lauren Myracle’s that I’ve read, and I’m curious to see if I enjoy her writing as much in this drastically more serious novel. Plus, the cover is positively gorgeous!

Memorable Quote:
It’s unfair how the kids who are starving for attention tended to be so annoying that people had no inclination to give it to them.

Favorite Characters: Robert & Patrick

Summary:

When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

Review:

 I’ve read other novels by Lauren Myracle, but nothing like this before. Books like TTYL and TTFN are easy and fun to read, while Shine takes on a sharper edge, diving deep into a small North Carolina town, where a hate crime against a gay teenager can both rip those who live there apart and make them want to shield their eyes against the fact that anything could possibly have happened.

I think this book shows how there can be two sides of people: The side everything sees and acknowledges, and the more hidden part, that few, if any, ever get to experience. It’s this secret side that can be either dangerous or saving, depending on the person. And as Cat delves into the past and investigates this crime, she learns this just as the reader does.

The plot did drag a bit, taking a long time to follow Cat’s investigation and build up the storyline. I did like how the extra time gave emphasis to things like the setting, different characters, and the significance of what was going on, as well as how it built suspense. But it also made it easy for me to lose interest, and choose to read another book instead of continuing with this. Just a personal preference, but I tend to go for faster paced novels.

Shine was still beautifully written, dragging me into the setting and pulling me along while Cat tries to find the truth behind Patrick’s attack. I didn’t really know what would happen until the end, and even then things continued to surprise me. I loved how it wasn’t predictable, and really made me consider the awful things that even the most unlikely people are capable of. I give Shine 4/5 stars.

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