Amulet: The Stonekeeper is a very strange but beautiful graphic novel

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Amulet, Volume 1: The Stonekeeper

author : kazu kibuishi

pages : [hardcover] 192

summary :

Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot—and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission.

After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals.

Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.

review :

Amulet: The Stonekeeper is a really interesting graphic novel that sets up an intriguing world, but doesn’t stand well on its own.

This graphic novel is filled with gorgeous illustrations that really stand out more than the text, mostly because the fantastical creatures and world that Emily and Navin accidentally fall into comes into play very quickly in the novel. Besides, it felt like half of the panels had no text to them at all, so you need the illustrations to keep the story moving onward.

Most of the creatures in this other world are terrifying–I’m not sure of the age range to recommend this book to because of how frightening these things are to look at. Plus, they’re intent on either kidnapping or killing these kids–I’m not certain which is truer–and mange to take away their mother in a very gross and horrific way.

Still, one of their closest allies is an adorable robot bunny, so I’m not sure of what angle the author is going for here. So many characters are introduced, and all set up to do . . Something. The plot remains a little mysterious even when this book concludes. I know that there are several more books, and here was enough to interest me just from this first installment, but I feel like the series could have been condensed if we’d just been offered more information here. I have no idea of why the amulet is important or does what it does. Why Emily and Navin are involved. What this world is. What these creatures are that are working against them. There are so many questions that, despite the gorgeous visual world-building, I needed more physical answers to keep me rooted in the story.

While I’d recommend this book, I’d say try to hunt down the first few of the series at the library, so you can read them all at once and see if the story really is for you.

3/5 stars

 

An interview with L. E. Sterling, author of True Born

Hello everyone! Today I have something special to feature on the blog because L. E. Sterling, author of True Born (the first in the True Born trilogy) agreed to answer a few questions about herself and her newest novel.

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What initially inspired you to write True Born?

Writing novels is such a messy business. I really think that for me, a novel is a collage of all of my experiences, emotions and impressions. But in True Born I’d have to say there are two main threads that led to the novel.

I’ve been using my novels as vehicles to explore the environmental crisis that’s upon us. Our environmental crisis is more than just about garbage or pollution – I’d call that a ‘skin deep’ approach. Instead, I believe this crisis affects our very DNA. It affects our hormone levels, our biological stress levels and so on, and in a very real way that results in disease. We’ve really segmented our society so that “medicine” supposedly fixes a problem – but does it? True Born doesn’t really answer this question – yet! But it does state the problem, I think, in what I hope are some really clear and articulate ways.

The other inspiration was my family. I’ve been quite obsessed by the incredible story of my great-grandmother, who was born in England and sent to the U.S. to be an indentured servant circa 1900. As the story goes, she was very young when she was shipped over, and I imagine the whole voyage was traumatic, because apparently my great-grandmother forgot who she was through the crossing.

When she finally arrived in the U.S. she gave everyone her twin’s name instead of her own. She ended up living her entire life, up until she was a middle-aged adult, by her twin’s name. It’s such a fascinating tale – I really wanted to explore the idea of having a bond with someone that was so close that it took over your own, so I explored this in a fictional world.

Tell us about Lucy. Why do you think people will connect to her as a main character?

Well, I think people will make up their own minds as to how they will connect to Lucy. But from my perspective, Lucy is the greatest character! She’s got spunk and depths that she’s only just beginning to explore. But at the same time she’s really trapped by the thought paradigms she’s grown up with. I think that strange duality leads to some of the best tension in the book, because she’s always fighting with her desire and inclination to play it safe, play by the rules of her parents and her upper class world. In the end, she just can’t. She just isn’t that person, no matter how much she wants to be. She’s far bigger, and the events unfolding around her just won’t let her be.

True Born was originally published on Wattpad. How was the experience of transitioning from that to a more traditional publishing route?

This is a good question. The answer is: it isn’t!

To unpack that: I really only meant for True Born to exist on Wattpad as a novella. It was, to my mind, “fully formed” and never meant for publication. It was meant to be a back story for another set of novels I was planning but then… the story seemed to get very popular and I ended up pursuing it as first a novel, and then a trilogy!

Other writers have used Wattpad to land their first publishing deals (happens rarely, folks) but I already had two published novels under my belt, and a literary agent, so this wasn’t my main goal! What I needed was some inspiration and encouragement – even with an agent, the publishing industry can be crushing! – and honestly, Wattpad’s amazing community of creators gave that to me in spades.

What writers have inspired you?

There are so many!! Among many others, I have spent the last few years obsessed with Ilona Andrews, Cassandra Clare, Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Karen Chance, Maria V. Snyder, and Tanya Huff. Before that, I was really taken by Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

What I really love was how these writers are able to fully immerse you in these alternate realities. It’s quite something – and I learn so much from reading (and rereading, and rereading) their work. I really aspire to some of the intense world-building that these writers are so good at. I want readers to feel as though they are citizens of Dominion (the city True Born is set in) – not voyeurs.

If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?

Honestly? I would want to make friends with Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels series (Ilona Andrews). She is one scary awesome lady. Kick ass assassin and marshmallow softy. I love that combination.

What is the last book that you read?

I’ve just finished Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs. It was as amazing as all the others in the Mercy Thompson series – perfect!

— — —

If you’re interested in learning more about True Born, which will be available May 3rd, read on:

Summary:

Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.

For more about the author:

Twitter: @le_sterling
Facebook (this is brand new):  https://www.facebook.com/LESterling22/

Through the Woods — a graphic novel that will terrify you

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Through the Woods

author : emily carroll

pages : [hardcover] 208

summary :

‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss.

These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.

Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…

review :

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book ever since I spotted it on a Barnes & Noble shelf, coveted it, and never thought that I’d ever be able to afford it. Which ended up being true, because I happily found that my school library had procured a copy of this book recently and I was the first person to check it out. With how long I’ve been waiting to get my hands on Through the Woods, it did not disappoint. In fact, these five horror stories left me shivering long past when I was supposed to get to sleep.

These are no normal retold fairy tales. They’re the kind of things you’d rather not hear, because more often than not there are no happy endings, and no guarantees that the characters you fear are not walking among you–or maybe waiting underneath your bed. That’s the kind of story Carroll is not only great at crafting, but illustrating. Yes, this graphic novel isn’t exactly ‘graphic’ in its horror, really, but sometimes the creatures it leaves up to your imagination is far worse than what is pictured on the page. I love how she turns that around on the reader, so in the end you aren’t sure of what, exactly, you’re afraid of, just that something is very wrong. Much like most of the protagonists in the stories feel. Before terribly creative and terrifying things happen in their lives.

Some of the tales reference easily recognizable fairy tales and others seem to have emerged on their own with no immediate influences, though through the tone and artistry they feel as ancient and warning as some of the oldest known fairy tales. I love that Carroll was so easily able to adapt an approach that brought back some of the gruesome aspects of original fairy tales but spun it all so that this storytelling is wholly her own.

I could gush about it forever, really, because the illustrations are amazing, too. I love the way the text itself because an image in the story, playing with the figures depicted. Sometimes changing color and size to indicate what is speaking and how the reader should feel about what is said. It’s such a layered book that I feel has been severely overlooked, and now I’m going to go and push it on all of my friends.

So, yes, of course, I recommend Through the Woods–just don’t read it on a dark and stormy night, when you’re home alone.

5/5 stars

 

my kind of crazy cover

GIVEAWAY & SPOTLIGHT: My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

title : my kind of crazy

author : robin reul

About the Author:

Robin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. And unlike Hank, she does not know how to ride a bike. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. My Kind Of Crazy is her first novel. Find her at robinreul.com

book summary :

A promposal that (literally) goes up in flames sparks a friendship that might be just crazy enough to work

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break.  It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens.  A lot.  Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing.  Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

read an excerpt from the book :

So here’s the thing. It’s not like I woke up this morning and said, “Hey, I think I’ll light the 100-year-old Eastern Red Cedar tree in front of Amanda Carlisle’s house on fire today.” Because I don’t know about you, but when I wake up, my mind doesn’t go straight to arson. Honestly, the first thing I focus on is how fast I can get from my room to the bathroom without my dad’s girlfriend, Monica, trying to chat me up while I’m awkwardly standing there in my boxers.

            I’d read online that how you ask a girl to Prom can completely make or break a guy’s chances. I wanted to do something special that Amanda would never forget. Apparently it worked, just not the way I intended. ‘Use sparklers to spell out PROM’ the article on the Internet said. There was even a picture with them all lit up on the ground. Totally idiot proof.

I snuck into her yard like a ninja under the cover of darkness and tried to jam the sparklers in her lawn, but the soil was hard and unyielding. I looked around, desperate, and then I spied a nice soft patch of mulch underneath the cedar tree near the side of her yard. It was perfect, and the sparkler slid in easily. A few minutes later, I had them all lined up just like I’d seen in the picture, and once they were lit, yelled, “Amanda!” I actually had to call out twice because she didn’t hear me the first time. Then she came to the window and gazed down as the sparklers fizzled down to the ground and–boom!

Turns out that was fresh pine mulch underneath that cedar. Pine trees produce turpentine, so I might as well have lit those sparklers in a pool of gasoline for how quickly the mulch caught fire.

I didn’t know what to do, so I ran. Which is why I’m now hiding behind a bush across the street in her neighbor’s yard. This is definitely going down in history as the most epic promposal fail ever. And then, as if things couldn’t get more catastrophic, they do.

Baseball is practically a religion where I live in South Coast Massachusetts. People take their Red Sox pretty seriously, and the die-hards decorate their trees with red and blue streamers every season in a show of support. The Carlisles are no exception. And it doesn’t take long for the flames to catch and race the length of those ribbons into the dry branches above.

From where I’m crouched down, I have a perfect view of the Carlisle house. I can see Amanda’s eyes widen and her jaw drop open as she observes the quickly escalating situation in her yard. She pulls away from the window, I’m guessing to call the fire department. We should probably talk about Prom some other time.

            With things clearly going south, I do what any sensible person would do: I get the hell out of there. Of course, a sensible person wouldn’t have put sparklers in a pile of fresh mulch directly under a highly flammable tree. Hindsight is 20/20.

So in the most casual way possible, I hook my backpack – which is loaded with empty sparkler boxes – over my shoulders, hop on my bike, and pedal away from the scene at what I hope passes for a normal speed. Cool as a cucumber, that’s me.

I reason for a brief moment that, perhaps, Amanda didn’t actually see me there. Even if she did, she doesn’t know me all that well so she might not recognize me. I am wearing black jeans, and my Batman hoodie conceals my medium-length, stick straight brown hair, so I am sort of camouflaged. Not to mention, those flames were pretty distracting.

The fire station is about five streets away, near the library. I start to worry that the firemen won’t get there fast enough and Amanda’s whole house might burn down. I know I’m a lame-ass chicken shit for hightailing it out of there, but the last thing I need is Dad on my case for something else. As far as he’s concerned, I can’t do much right. I would like to say he’s just being an asshole, but lately I’ve been wondering if he’s onto something.

            I consider turning around and heading back to Amanda’s, which would be the right thing to do, but I swear I’m about to piss myself with fear so I pedal faster, listening for the sounds of approaching police sirens. For good measure, I jerk my bike off the main road, cutting through the back alleys toward home.

giveaway details :

use the rafflecopter link below to enter to win two copies of My Kind of Crazy between april 1 and april 30

open to U.S. and Canada only
a Rafflecopter giveaway

or, go to one of these links to buy yourself a copy:

Amazon- http://ow.ly/YbB9t

Barnes&Noble- http://ow.ly/YbTUX

BooksAMillion- http://ow.ly/YbTYN

!ndigo- http://ow.ly/YbU35

Indiebound- http://ow.ly/YbU6g

Servants of the Storm blew me away

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Servants of the Storm

author : delilah s. dawson

pages : [hardcover] 376

memorable quote:

I miss the days when I could wake up from a nightmare and call out, and someone would hold me close, make me feel warm and safe.

favorite character : baker

summary :

Dovey learns that demons lurk in places other than the dark corners of her mind in this southern gothic fantasy from the author of the Blud series.

A year ago, Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction—and taking the life of Dovey’s best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.

But recently she’s started to believe she’s seeing things that can’t be real…including Carly at their favorite café. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah—where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk—she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.

review :

I went into this book basically knowing nothing about what might happen and think that I liked it more from not having any expectations, from wondering alongside Dovey what could be true or hallucinations. So, if you’re interested in reading this book, I’d say dive right into it without too much reading from summaries/reviews.

When I started Servants of the Storm, I expected a mystery with a little intrigue. I expected everyone to think that Dovey was crazy and to spend the entire novel trying to figure out whether or not she really should go back to taking her medication. Somehow I missed the big old ‘horror’ sticker stuck to the copy of my book, when I took out a few novels that have been on my TBR list for ages (so long that I don’t even remember where I got the recommendations from in the first place!).

If you’re into paranormal, demonic, mysteries, this is the one for you. It creeped me out to the core. It really is like reading a horror movie, once you get about 50 pages into the book, and I never saw it coming. The things that the demons in Savannah like to do are horrifying, yet oddly fascinating, and you just can’t look away. I really like the world that Dawson constructed in her book because all of the rules about demons, their servants, and everything in between was easy enough to understand. I’m not learned enough in more demon novels to know if this is typically how they’re dealt with, but it was enough to give me shivers at night. I don’t mind things that can hurt you, even kill you–but once some creature starts messing with immortal souls? Nuh-uh. Goodbye.

Still, as much as it horrified me, I loved it for what it was. Except for the ending. Um, this book was published two years ago, ends like it’s setting itself up for a sequel, and then . . nothing. No sign of a sequel that’s even being written, let alone set to be published. Which is incredibly frustrating!

4/5 stars

 

Cathy’s Book = one of my favorite books of all time

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Cathy’s Book

Cathy Vickers Trilogy #1

author : jordan weisman, sean stewart, cathy brigg

pages : [hardcover] 143

memorable quote :

If this were a war year, if this were 1918 or 1944, I wouldn’t be the only girl whose dad was never coming home.

favorite character : cathy

summary :

Things weren’t so peachy in Cathy’s life before Victor broke up with her. Her father died unexpectedly, she’s failing school, and her best friend is mad at her. But when Cathy decides to investigate Victor’s reasons for ending their relationship, things suddenly go from bad to very, very, very bad as her findings produce more questions than answers. For instance, what does the death of Victor’s co-worker, the strange mark that appeared on Cathy’s arm, and the surreal behavior of several Chinese elders have to do with it?Through Cathy’s unique and irresistible voice-and lots of proof in the form of letters, photographs, date book entries, telephone numbers readers can call, websites they can access, as well as secrets only a careful reader will be able to decipher-readers will enter a strange and fascinating world where things often aren’t how they appear. Two-color illustrations plus supplemental material.

review :

I first read this book about a year or two after it came out. Cathy’s Book was first published in 2006 and has been extremely underrated ever since then. Maybe partly because of that, it took me an absurd amount of time to realize that this was actually part of a trilogy. Now that I have my hands on the other books, I decided to read the first to remind myself of the characters, plot, and setting. Honestly, I feel like I love the books even more now that I’m older.

What’s so incredible and unique about these books is what is done to make the mystery of it all seem real. Any phone number or website mentioned can be called or accessed. You can listen to the voice messages Cathy finds, and it’s just like you’re discovering the clues alongside her as she tries to find out why her boyfriend is being so mysterious and what his secret could be. There’s a nice blend of contemporary paranormal mystery going on here.

All of the other evidence in the case is conveniently located in a plastic pouch glued to the inside flap of the book. Cathy collected it all for her best friend Emma to read and, luckily, decided to share it with all of the other readers as well. IT’S SO COOL. Little things like business cards and fortunes that play such a small role in the book are gathered right there for you to actually see and feel for yourself. When I was younger, it freaked me out a little bit, as I wondered if this actually could be happening. That’s how convincing it was to me.

I don’t want to give too much about the book away, because it’s fairly short (less than 200 pages!) so it dives right into the mystery practically on page 1. Cathy is determined to get to the bottom of Victor’s sudden and mysterious break-up with her and subsequent disappearance. Cathy and Emma exchange notes in the margins of the notes (which are basically like a diary for Cathy, so she does not hold back at all) and I could ramble on and on about how I love this book for days. It’s so underrated! So go find a copy and READ.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I just reread this book for class and while my fangirling of it has severely diminished, I still feel like this is an important book. I mean, Augustus and Hazel talk about as pretentiously as any teenager could ever dream to, but underneath all of those unnecessary big words and silly metaphors is something really beautiful.

Caught Between the Pages

 

The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green [also wrote Paper Towns]

Pages [hardcover]: 318

memorable quote:
Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.

favorite characters: augustus, isaac, & hazel

summary:

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group…

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