Friday, October 15, 2010

The Princess Bride by: William Goldman


Synopsis:

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the "S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.
In short, it's about everything.
[as stated by the publisher]

The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies. Ever. I love it! So, naturally, it was bound to happen that I would pick up the novel somewhere along the way. Now, this is an abridgement of sorts from the novel by S. Morgenstern. As stated in the synopsis, Goldman removed anything all the parts that didn't entail to the fairytale/adventure story he loved that his dad read him as a child.

In the book, Goldman explained to the reader what was happening during the parts he got rid of. While some of the parts seemed sort of interesting (like seeing how Buttercup trained to become a princess), most of them seemed as boring as Goldman made them out to be, so I'm glad he left them out.

That said, I loved the book. The movie definitely stayed true to the story! I loved the characters and all the delicious satire and wit that's sprinkled throughout this novel. It's wonderful. One of the best "fairytales" I've read. I also love the interactions between Fezzick and Inigo and the interactions between Buttercup and Westley. So amazing!

I think this book has something for every sort of reader. It has adventure, it has wit, and it has romance. I would recommend it to anyone who likes fable sorts of stories, but also loves to laugh.

I will definitely be rereading this book at some point in time. I loved it!

Overall rating: 9/10

Pariah by: Bob Fingerman



Synopsis:

The world is in chaos. A zombie plague has devoured every nation on the planet. New York City is no exception. Imagine eight million zombies. Shoulder to shoulder. Walking ...

[from barnesandnoble.com]

With Halloween coming up right around the corner, I thought I would dip in to some of the more scary books that are waiting to be read on my shelves. I'm so glad I picked Pariah up first.

Pariah, amongst the problems it may have with it, is a horror novel. The zombes in this book are not pretty. They are decaying, flesh-eating, zombies. And that's what I love about it. Nowadays I've seen authors try to beautify zombies. You cannot make a zombie pretty. They eat people; devour them limb from limb. That's what zombies do, whether they have a slow walk or run (but, that's another debate entirely). Fingerman portrayed zombies just the way I love them, wildly gory and gruesome. I loved being able to get back to the old school horror.

Now, the characters left something to be desired. I liked them (most of them; Eddie got on my damn nerves), but I felt they were a little two-dimensional. I know that when an author has so many main characters, it's hard to put a lot of background into each character without dragging on and on, but I just felt like they weren't as strong of characters as they could have been. They served their purpose, but I kind of wanted more. I really wish we had gotten some explanation on Mona. At least a background on her! But, we got nothing. Which, I understand to a point. I think he wanted to let the audience decide for themselves if Mona was just a regular girl or if she was more of a Jesus figure.

And I wish we had gotten a more solid ending! The end really left me wanting more. It was kind of anti-climatic.

All in all, it was a pretty solid book. I'll definitely reread it, if only to get a shot of zombie goodness.

Overall rating: 7/10

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lockdown by: Alexander Gordon Smith



Synopsis:

Furnace Penitentiary is the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Alex Sawyer is the “new fish.” Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, he knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to death in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. The prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below.



Escape is Alex’s only option. But it’s not just about saving his own skin. The more he discovers, the more he understands that he is going to have to do whatever it takes to expose this nightmare hidden from the eyes of the world.
[from B&N.com]
 
Lockdown is the first in the Escape From the Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith. I picked it up on a whim when I saw the awesome cover and the back made it sound interesting enough. I'm glad I bought it, it was a really good YA novel.
 
The plot of this novel is really interesting and really scary at the same time. I mean, this is a prison designed for children and some really gruesome, terrible things happen to them in this place. There are these dogs with no skin that will just tear them apart, and these really weird creatures known as "wheezers" with these old gas masks sewn onto their face. Some of the things were creatures you might see in a Stephen King novel.
 
Alex, the main character, is a very complex character. He isn't some innocent that's framed, he actually is a thief and a pretty bad kid. But, once he gets into the prison, you see that he also has some good qualities to him. I felt really bad for him at times, because he is just a kid. He's only fourteen years old and thrown into this truly horrible place.
 
There were also some good secondary characters. I really liked Donovan, he was a great character. And Zee was a lot of fun. I'd like to know more about the warden. He's really creepy and I'd like to maybe get some back story on him. Which might be hard, because the story is told through Alex's POV. There are supposed to be five books in the series, so hopefully we get some background on him.
 
There are very disturbing images in this novel, so I would say it probably isn't appropriate for younger teens. It's really surprising that something so dark is a YA novel. Which I like, because the reader isn't going to be expecting it. I know I wasn't!
 
All in all, I liked the novel. It was an entertaining read and I'll definitely  be checking out Solitary when it comes out. I'm intrigued as to where Smith is going to take this series.
 
Overall rating: 8/10

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mockingjay by: Suzanne Collins



Synopsis:


Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.
[from B&N.com]


Mockingjay is the final installment in the Hunger Games triology by Suzanne Collins. The first two novels of the series were positively addicting, so I was really excited to read this when I picked it up. Which is why it didn't gather dust on my TBR list for long, ha.


Mockingjay has its ups and downs. I'll start off with the things I liked first.


Beware, here be spoilers after this point.


The characters were still really well written, even if we didn't get as much background on some of them than I would've liked. There were some new character introduced that were really interesting and some of my favorite old characters. The plot was pretty solid. The writing was solid. I think Collins has some of the smoothest first person narration I've seen in a while. It's really easy to feel what Katniss is feeling through the style of writing Collins has. Collins, once again, proved herself in the "author not afraid to kill off characters" aspect. I know with some writers (coughStephenieMeyercough) have problems killing off their characters. Collins doesn't. And I love that. Some of the deaths made me sad, but I love that she pushs the boundaries of young adult novels like that. And the violence in this book is really apparent, but really well written. As a fan of horror and gore, I loved those scene. But, they also made me cringe. Which is very hard to do. So props to you, Collins.


I was really scared what would happen when Peeta was brought back and was hijacked and all crazy. But it worked out in the end between them (thank God!), and had some really cute interactions when he wasn't trying to kill her and was trying to figure out what was real and not real. He even had a game called "Real or not real?" I thought that was a nice touch.

And, of course, I loved Haymitch. He was an awesome character, and I thought he was great in this novel, as in the first two.



Now for what I didn't like.


I didn't like all the fast forwarding Collins did in the novel. I think it made the pacing in the novel off, and maybe it would've been better to split the last books into two so we could really get everything. Like, some parts would be pretty slow, and then all of a sudden we'd be weeks into the future. That didn't really sit right with me.


I didn't like that she killed off Finnick. That made me sad. It's more of a personal thing. I loved his character and his interactions with Katniss. And he just got married! I felt that wasn't fair. But, again, just a personal thing. I also think it was unnecessary to kill her sister. Just because that's why she got herself into this whole mess in the first place. Again, just a personal thing.


I think it may have been overkill to have Coin be an uber bitch, too. It kind of felt like it was just thrown in there to have some last minute drama. I think this would've worked out better, too, had the last book been split into two. Because then we could've had that situation built up more, instead of set up and ended in one novel.


As I said with the first two novels, the love triangle thing in this series was vastly unneeded. The books probably would've been better without them. And then Gale is a douche in this novel. He has his moments, but it's kind of like the Gale from the first novel and the Gale in this novel are two different Gales. I get that he's even more angry and full of rage because of the things that have happened, but I don't think that's an excuse to just make him an asshole to someone who is supposed to be his best friend. And then he gets shipped off to distract 2 at the end of the novel and we never get a resolution with Katniss and him. Does she just keep hating him? Do they ever talk again? This is something I want to know!


Which brings me to the epilogue. I liked it but didn't at the same time. I like that it's a happy ending but with scars, that's cool and all, but I still think it was a tad unneeded. Even though I loved the last line.


So, I wasn't jumping up and down at the end of this novel like I was at the other two. But it was still a fairly solid read. Was it a completely satisfying end to a great triology? Sure. I wish there was some things that were developed more, but what can ya do? I love the series, I'll definitely be re-reading the books. Collins is a good writer, and I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us.


Overall rating: 8/10

Friday, August 27, 2010

Changeless by: Gail Carriger


Synopsis:

Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.
But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.
[from the barnes and noble website]

Changeless is the sequel to Soulless, and it just so happens that the third book--Blameless--comes out soon. Which I'm really excited about. This series is probably one of my favorites at the moment. I love Carriger's style of writing and the atmosphere of the books is straight up awesome. I've never really ventured into the realms of steampunk before, but these books definitely make me want to read more of the genre.

Alexia is as witty a character in Changeless as she is in Soulless. I love her. She's headstrong, stubborn, sarcastic, and an overall solid character. I think her relationship with Conall is adorable, they're so great when they interact! I did kind of get sick of people always mentioning that Alexia married Conall just for political reasons and to recieve better social standing, instead of for love. It got old. And from the way they interact together, I think it's ridiculous. Clearly, they care about each other. Even if she is soulless.

We were introduced to a new character in this book, Madame Lafoux. Now, she was interesting. I really hope to see her in the next book. We were given a fair amount of background on her, but I'd like to see more. And my other favorites were in the novel, Lord Akeldama and Professor Lyall. Although there weren't in it for more than a couple scenes, they were still amazing. Her friend Ivy was also in the novel. She flirted the line between funny and "I want to throw her off a balcony" a couple of times, but I found the tiff between her and Felicity (Alexia's half sister) pretty hilarious.

I thought it was cool Carriger brought them to Scotland, it was interesting to see Conall's former pack and gain some more insight into his character. And it seems like the setting changes once again in the next book, with Alexia heading to Italy, so that should be interesting, also.

I was not a fan of the ending. It made saddened me. I hope the situation gets rectified in the new book. So I shall be reading it as soon as possible.

Overall, this was a great book. The writing was well done, the plot well done, and the characters well done. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book!!

Overall rating: 9/10

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kitty and the House of Horrors by: Carrie Vaughn


Synopsis:
REALITY BITES

Talk radio host and werewolf Kitty Norville has agreed to appear on TV's first all-supernatural reality show. She's expecting cheesy competitions and manufactured drama starring shapeshifters, vampires, and psychics. But what begins as a publicity stunt will turn into a fight for her life.
The cast members, including Kitty, arrive at the remote mountain lodge where the show is set. As soon as filming starts, violence erupts and Kitty suspects that the show is a cover for a nefarious plot. Then the cameras stop rolling, cast members start dying, and Kitty realizes she and her monster housemates are ironically the ultimate prize in a very different game. Stranded with no power, no phones, and no way to know who can be trusted, she must find a way to defeat the evil closing in . . . before it kills them all.
[found on barnes and noble's website]

By now, it should be pretty well known that I love the Kitty Norville series. I think Kitty is a great character who has grown so much from the first novel, and Vaughn always manages to keep me interested in the plotlines and story twists.

That said, this is probably by far my favorite out of the series. Maybe that's just because I just got done reading it, but I really freaking loved this book. It had one of my favorite side characters in it, which is Grant (I really hope we get to see more of him, I love his character). When I saw he was in this I did a little cheer. He was awesome in this story, I love the interactions between him and Kitty. And one of my other favorite side characters comes back at the end (which excited me, might I add, because I've missed him. I won't say who, because I don't want to ruin anything for the people who might not have read this novel yet but want to).

The premise was awesome. A bunch of supernatural creatures holed up in a cabin in Montana? Now, there's a reality show I'd watch.  But then all the fun takes a turn for the worse and people start dying, plus they're trapped because there's thin wires of silver closing them in. This book is a basically an Agatha Christie novel with supernatural creatures. I loved that whole air of mystery and darkness to it. It's a blend of horror and mystery, which was new to see in the Kitty series. And, surprisingly, I really felt for the characters when they died. A lot of times, characters aren't developed enough to really make the reader feel emotional when they die, but in this novel, even though some of the characters I hadn't known for long, I was really sad to see them go. You get to know them and when they're suddenly ganked out, it's sad. You really feel for Kitty and what she's going through.

The writing in this novel was strong, the characters were strong, and the plot was strong. Vaughn has definitely grown as a writer since the first Kitty Norville book. And as long as she can keep the tales new and fresh, I'll be reading.

Overall rating: 9/10

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Scent of Shadows by: Vicki Pettersson


Synopsis:
When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.

By rights, she should be dead.

Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset—a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow—seeking answers to whom or what she really is . . . and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.
But the nightmare is just beginning—for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own . . .
[from barnes and noble website]

This is the debut novel in the Zodiac series by Vicki Pettersson. I actually picked the novel up a while ago, just finally getting around to reading it. And I'm so glad I did.

I loved, loved, loved this novel. It's quirky, dark, violent, and just a wonderful tale. I was a little hesistant at first about the whole "superhero" things, because it just sounded silly, but after a while I got used to it and loved it. I especially loved the whole comic book store scene, that was just priceless. I think that whole quirky take on the supernatural was really interesting and something I haven't seen before. I mean, these people are actually being written about in these superhereo comic books. Though it wasn't explained how the people writing them knew what was happening, so I hope that gets touched on in the later novels.

I love the main character, she's a witty badass who has had a hell of a life. She definitely changes throughout the novel, which I thought was awesome. The bond between her and her sister was touching, and I loved how she interacted with everyone. All around, she was a pretty well rounded character. Pettersson also wrote some interesting secondary characters, like Warren, Hunter, Ben, and the other superheros. I do think the romantic story side to Ben and Joanna was kind of unneccessary, especially with what happens about a third of the way into the novel. Their reunion was short and Ben wasn't really in the novel a lot, so it was a side plot that kind of detracted from the overall story. I do hope he doesn't just disappear, though. He was a pretty cool character. I liked him.

Ajax was an awesome villian. I loved him. He was creepy, disgusting, killed people for the fun of it, and was just a horrible person.  But he was awesome, because he had motive for what he was doing, and he was a genuinely bad person. He wasn't a villian who suddenly sees the light at the end of the tunnel at the end of the book. He was evil through and through, and I loved it.


The setting of the novel is great, I think having it take place in Las Vegas is really cool. I liked how the author portrayed the two sides to Las Vegas: the glitzy strip and the more torn down, shady alleyways.
 
I absolutely devoured this book. Once I got to the middle of the novel, I just did not want to put it down. The action scenes were well written, the touching scenes weren't cliché and trite--they were truly touching, the dialogue was good, the interactions between the characters were good, and the storyline was good. It was refreshing because it's an urban fantasy that is less about the romance and more about the supernatural and the whole good vs. evil. Definitely a great debut by Pettersson, and I'll be checking out the next novel as soon as I can.
 
Overall rating: 9/10

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Contest from The Eclectic Reader!

There's a new contest going on over at The Eclectic Reader that everyone should check out.


The books up for grab are:


Mockingjay by: Suzanne Collins. Mockingjay is the third and final installement to The Hunger Games triology!


By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan


and The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.


If you're interested, click on this link and enter!

The competition ends on the 31st of August, so be sure to head over there before the end of the month and get your entry in to win one of the fabulous books up for grabs!

--Faith Adeline

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Waiting On Wednesday # 2

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at breakingthespine.

This week, I'm waiting on Mockingjay, the (sure to be amazing) third book of the Hunger Games triology by Suzanne Collins. Ever since I finished Catching Fire, I have been waiting to read the third book. And it's release is coming so soon.

Here's the synopsis from Barnes and Noble:

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.

It sounds absolutely amazing. I cannot wait. There's also a book that I've seen floating around a couple blogs I watch called Forsaken by Jana Oliver. Like my pick from last week, I'm hoping to see a good angel/demon type of novel. I'm not a huge fan of love triangles, but we'll see how it's played out.



Riley has always wanted to be a Demon Trapper like her father, and she's already following in his footsteps as one of the best. But it's tough being the only girl in an all-guy world, especially when three of those guys start making her life more complicated: Simon, the angelic apprentice who has heaven on his side; Beck, the tough trapper who thinks he's God's gift, and Ori, the strikingly sexy stranger who keeps turning up to save her ass. One thing's for sure - if she doesn't keep her wits about her there'll be hell to pay...

Plus, I think the cover to Forsaken is pretty gorgeous.

Night Shift by: Lilith Saintcrow

Synopsis:


Not everyone can take on the things that go bump in the night.


Not everyone tries.


But Jill Kismet is not just anyone.


She’s a hunter, trained by the best--and in over her head.


Welcome to the night shift…
[found at barnesandnoble.com]


I came across the Jill Kismet series on a whim one day at my local Barnes and Noble. The premise of the story seemed really cool and it seemed like I was going to get an edgy, gritty urban fantasy novel, so I purchased the novel.


So, when I finally picked up the book this past week, I was pretty pumped to read it.


My hopes of this being the next dark, edgy urban fantasy find of mine were quickly squashed. In a brutal, bloody way.


There were good parts to this novel but there were equally bad parts, also. I’ll start off with the bad first.


First of all, Jill was like the mash-up of everything people assume these urban fantasy hunter characters should be. She wore a long trench leather coat (cliché), wore leather pants (for the reasons much like Kim Harrison’s main character Rachael), hated herself, constantly reminded people around her that the only way to stay sane in this clearly insane world was to booze it up and sleep around, hated herself, and had a cool car.


Jill annoyed the ever-living daylights out of me. Between her constant whining about herself and the “vulnerability” the author tried to give her, it made it really hard for me to like her. I’ve seen the self-hating hunter main character many a time. I was hoping to get a badass chick who didn’t hate herself for a change.


Besides, what badass chick says “frocking” when she so clearly has said fucking in the novel? There were other major out of character moments in this novel. Like, who says their knife “left [their] hand with a glitter” (157)? What does that even mean? And on page 311, after an entire book where Jill is sort of talking to the reader but not really, she pulls this, “And I don’t want to talk about that anymore” out of her hat. I think that’s a huge no-no and something that should’ve been caught by someone along the editing process.


There were some things just straight up annoyed me, like the silver charms in her hair always tinkling. Every other page the charms were tinkling away in her hair. And why were they there anyway? I mean, I think Saintcrow’s reasoning was that Jill’s mentor (more on him in a minute) gave her the charms and she just tied them in her hair. Why? That’s a reasoning I would really love to have, because it just doesn’t make sense to me. And then Saul starts doing it, for reasons unbeknownst to me.


Now, I could not get the image of Mr. Miyagi out of my head whenever Jill mentioned her mentor. I don’t know why, especially because the teacher was Russian. I just couldn’t. Except he was everything I would never want Mr. Miyagi to be. Apparently he beat Jill (to make her stronger, of course) and then talked her into this whole having a hell breed mark her for reasons that weren’t stated. With Jill’s past (she was an abused prostitute, which I think the author just threw in there to make her seem more vulnerable) I could easily see why she would be stupid enough to just trust what her teacher was saying instead of rationally thinking about the huge mistake she might be making by having herself marked. But I still wanted to know why he wanted her to have it done. And I want Jill to wake up and realize she was in a hell of an abusive relationship with this guy. He seemed like a grade A douche.


I also really hated how the glossary was in the back of the book, because right away these words were thrown at me and I had no clue what they meant and it wasn’t until I paged through the book and saw the glossary that I knew what they meant. I think it’s the Black Daggerhood books where the glossary is in the front. That’s a hell of a lot more helpful. But that could just be a personal thing.


Now, there were some good parts. Some. Not a lot. But some. I think the gore in this was well written. I thought that aspect was good. There was plenty of blood and guts and disgusting images. Which was cool, because you don’t get a lot of that sometimes in urban fantasy novels. I also loved Perry. I thought he was awesome. I want to know more about him. Hell, I want a book in his POV. He was deliciously evil, who apparently just makes Jill beat him to a bloody pulp as payment for being marked. That doesn’t sound like too bad of a trade-off to me. Supernatural abilities and the only payment is beating the crap out of the ‘breed that did it to you? Okay, sure. Could be worse. In short, I think Perry stole every scene in the book he was in and I’d love to see more of him.


I also liked Saul. Once I got past the whole domestic werewolf thing (I kept imagining a big strong werewolf with a pink apron on), I started to like him. Sure, he’s clingy and possessive of Jill for no reasons that are stated, but he’s sweet. I’d like to know more about him. And I liked Harper and Dom.


So, overall, I don’t think it was a strong start to a series. There were a lot of cliché urban fantasy moments, a whiny bordering on pathetic at times main character, and a lot that wasn’t explained to the reader. But there were some parts that might be enough for me to check out the second book. I haven’t decided yet.


Overall rating: 4/10

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Alice In Wonderland: Movie Review


Alice in Wonderland
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter


I liked this movie. It wasn’t the best Tim Burton film, but I thought his vision of Through The Looking Glass was pretty damn cool. Wonderland looked awesome and I thought the costumes looked great.


Mia did a pretty good job as Alice, though she was a little bland at times. Johnny was wonderful as the Mad Hatter (though his Scottish brogue got to be a bit much), and I loved the Cheshire Cat. He’s always been my favorite character, and I thought he looked fantastic and Stephen Fry did great. Alan Rickman as the caterpillar was cool. And Helena made me laugh with her portrayal of the Red Queen.


The plot was pretty decent. I liked how it was about Alice’s journey in trying to find her name and who she really was. I think a lot of people can relate to that journey.

I thought the settings and how everything looked was really well done. I liked the overall atmosphere of the movie and how all the characters looked. Some were outlandish (like the Red Queen's big head) but it just works.


Definitely a movie I would rewatch. It wasn’t drop dead amazing, but it was well done.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sherlock Holmes: Movie Review



Sherlock Holmes
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Robert Downing Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong


Oh, Robert Downing Jr. How adorable you are. I loved him in this movie. I thought he played a really good Sherlock Holmes (hopefully that doesn’t change when I get around to reading the stories). Him and Law had great chemistry, I loved their little duo. They played off one another well and I after watching them together I cannot imagine another Holmes/Watson act. Loved the humor between them.

That said, the movie wasn’t amazing. It seemed to drag a little in times and the plot wasn’t as strong a mystery as I would’ve liked. The villain was kind of the static evil character, with no real motive on why he was doing what he was doing (aside from selfish “I want to dominate all” reasons). And Rachel McAdams character might have been better played by another actress. I didn’t hate her, but I didn’t love her as the character, either.

The setting was well done, I thought that aspect was really good. They did a good job recreating London.

All in all, it was an enjoyable movie. I’ll definitely watch it again and I’ll be watching the sequel when it comes out.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Waiting On Wednesday #1


So, I want to get more involved with this blog and try to have a set number of blogs a week, even if they're just filler stuff like this.


I've seen "Waiting on Wednesday" at a lot of the book review blogs I follow, and I think it's an awesome idea that focuses on upcoming releases. It's hosted by: breakingthespine and this week I'm actually looking forward to a book I found over at Dead Book Darling called Fallen Angel. It's by Heather Terrell and looks really good. Here's the synopsis:

The first book in a dark, edgy new angel series about a girl who finds herself forced to choose sides in the battle between fallen angels, even if that means going against the boy she loves.


When Ellie Faneuil first sees Michael Chase she feels an instantaneous connection. But she does not realize how much they have in common, including the ability fly and to see what others are thinking - not to mention a taste for blood. Reveling in their new powers and their growing feelings for each other, Ellie and Michael are determined to uncover what they are, and how they got this way ... together.


But the truth has repercussions neither could have imagined. Soon they find themselves center stage in an ancient conflict between fallen angels that threatens to destroy everything they love. And it is no longer clear whether Ellie and Michael will choose the same side.

In this electrifying novel Heather Terrell spins a gripping tale of soul-mates, supernatural powers and a truth that will change Ellie and Michael‘s world forever.
 
It's due out December 28th. Right after Christmas, so I know what my Christmas money might be spent on, haha.
 
I love books that focus on Angelic beings. Especially if they're bad ass. I'm hoping this one is a bit more darker and more edgy than Hush Hush was.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Let The Right One In by: John Ajvide Lindqvist


Synopsis:

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last---revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.


But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door---a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night. . .
[from barnesandnoble.com]

I saw the movie to Let The Right One In a little while ago, so one would think I knew what I was getting myself into with this movie. But, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Lindqvist had so much more in this novel than was shown in the movie. I loved all the storylines in this story, and how each character we were introduced to somehow tied into all the others. It was great and seems like quite a job to accomplish.

Eli is probably one of the best vampires I've seen in modern literature, I really liked her. I wish we could've gotten a bit more background on her. And Oskar was a really cool protagonist. You feel for him, but you know that he's probably a little crazy. In a sea of Mary Sue/Gary Stu characters, Oskar was a breath of fresh air to me. He was different. The two characters were also really good together. I loved the whole Morse Code thing. They had that childlike innocence but were mature, too. They had a great relationship that I thought Lindqvist did a great job with.

Even the side characters were given proper time to develop. I really felt for Virgina and Lacke by the end of the novel. They all got enough time to have good backstories and become three-dimensional.

There were a couple style things that I didn't like. Lindqvist used ellipses like they were going out of style, and by the end of the book, I just wanted to start crossing them out. It got really annoying to see unneeded ellipses smack dab in the middle of a sentence. And he didn't put commas in front of names, so that kind of bugged me a little. Maybe it's just a cultural thing?

Now, this novel does have parts that might upset some readers. There is some gore. Lots of blood and inner organs and brains. So, if you're not a fan of that, you might not like the novel. And there are some touchy issues with prostitution of young boys and things like that.

I liked the setting of the novel. All the snow and ice and darkness. It really played well with what was happening in the novel.
And I loved the end of the novel. The last fifteen pages were just awesome.

So, I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who likes the vampire genre and can handle the more mature aspects of the novel. I'd also recommend the movie. It follows the novel really well and the main actors who play Oskar and Eli were great. I'm kind of nervous to see how the American version is going to be.

Overall rating: 10/10

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Say You're One Of Them by: Uwem Akpan

It's hard to give a synopsis for short story collections, so I'm just going to go through each story, give a brief background on it, and say what I did and didn't like.

The first story of the collection is "An Ex-mas Feast" which is about an eight year old boy (the narrator) whose sister starts working the streets to pay to fund his schooling and such. I think it was a good way to open the story, because it eases the reader into the cultural differences better than any of the other stories might have. It's definitely a touchy subject, seeing as how his twelve-year-old sister is prostituting herself to take care of the family and her brother, but it's not as graphic or mind jarring as the rest of the collection is. The story was okay. A good opener but not my favorite.

"Fattening For Gabon" is the next in line. It's a novella that just seems to go on forever. There were so many times I just wanted to quit reading it, but I made it to the end. (I saved the novellas for last, which was a good thing.) The writing was dry, the whole story seemed to drag, and the ending was kind of anti-climatic for me. The main subject was about an uncle trying to save his niece and nephew from slavery, which is a horrible, very powerful subject, but I just didn't enjoy the story. The chopped language really broke me from the flow of the story all the time. I understood the French, but the other language just went completely over my head, and it's used throughout the collection, so I was constantly being pulled from the story, trying to figure out what it might mean. I really wanted to like the story, but it was probably the one I disliked the most.

"What Language Is This?" followed, and this one was a short story about two friends (one of them being "you") who are told they can't be friends anymore because one is Christian and one is Muslim, and these two religious groups got into it and just were completely at war with each other. It was a good story, I really liked it. I liked seeing these two young friends trying to understand what was happening to them, it was really realistic and offered an interesting point of view. It was another story that used the POV of "you" well.

"Luxurious Hearses" is another novella about a sixteen-year-old boy named Jubril who is traveling from North Nigeria to South Nigeria because of the religious conflict between Muslims and Christians (he's both). It also dragged in times, and I felt some of it was confusing and just went right over my head at first. I'd have to put the book down and ponder it or reread the passage to get it. I liked the main story line of this boy trying to figure out who he is in this really huge, horrible war of sorts going on. There was a lot of violence in the novel and it's culturally jarring. I liked that about the story, it really immersed me in this different culture.  But it had dry writing, too, and had the confusing language that sometimes pulled me from the story. But it was easier for me to read than "Fattening For Gabon."

The last story in the collection is "My Parents' Bedroom." I think that story was the most emotional of the pieces. I read it and was just shocked at what was happening. It was my favorite of the collection, I really liked it. Definitely violent, so not for the light of heart. But it definitely helps the reader see just exactly what some of these people went through and how very horrible it was. And I think it was the best style wise.

So, overall, this collection disappointed me a bit more than the others I checked out. Sometimes it was hard for me to relate to the characters, which wasn't the case in the other two collections I read. And Akpan's writing definitely doesn't flow as well as theirs does. I just don't think the collection had the heart like the others did. It was more techincal, very distant. It was like seeing these horrible things on the news and not being directly immersed in them. Which, he's from Nigeria so I can understand why he might distance himself a bit, because I don't know what he saw or went through.  But I think "My Parents' Bedroom" was a gem of a story and worth reading.

My Rating: 5/10

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fledgling by: Octavia E. Butler

Synopsis:

This story opens with Shori Matthews awakening in a cave, very injured, with no memory of who or what she is. As the story continues, we find out that even though she appears to be around ten years of age, she's actually a 53-year-old genetically altered vampire, and that she is the only one to survive a massacre against her family. The rest of the novel is not only about Shori trying to relearn the ways of her people, but also about Shori trying to get justice against the people who killed her family.
[synopsis in my words]

Fledgling is the first novel I've read by Octavia E. Butler. I've been meaning to check out some of her work for a while, so on my last trip to the local library, I picked up Fledgling. I'm glad I did. It proved to be a very good story, with strong characters. It ended on a good note, but I do wish there had been more stories about Shori and the people she grew close to.

Butler had a very interesting take on vampires. The Ina were very different from the classic view of how vampires should be. I have seen some of the ideas in other novels, such as vampires have venom in their saliva that makes their bites pleasurable, but in other stories it sometimes seems unrealistic or just plain weird. But it works in this novel. Everything Butler writes about the Ina community and people is realistic. Never once did I think, "Now, that couldn't happen," like I have in other books concerning vampires in the past. She delves into more scientific explanations without it being overly confusing. It all just works nicely together.

Shori was a strong lead character. I liked how some of the themes of the story were learning how to live with your differences, joining and living in a community, relearning who you are, etc. These are very human struggles that many people can probably relate to, which helped make Shori a likeable character.

There were also strong secondary characters. I like Wright, Brook, Celia, Joel, Martin, Daniel, and Theodora. There wasn't an overload of information on their backgrounds, but enough to make them good, rounded characters. Even the villains were well rounded because they had a motive for doing what they did, and it's a motive that is another human struggle many of us could relate to. I really liked that Butler didn't just make them bad for the sake of being bad; their motive was clear and defined.

There were a couple things I could see as being offensive to some people, especially the fact that Shori has sexual partners and she appears to be just a young girl. So, I wouldn't recommend this to someone who wouldn't be able to get past that. There is also some violence, so people who aren't fans of any gruesome details (such as having someone's legs sawed off completely as a punishment) might not like it.

While the book was easy to read, there were some parts that didn't necessarily drag, but they weren't very action orientated. I think there was a pretty good mixture of action and information, but sometimes it just felt like you were getting the same information over and over again (which, in one case, you were, but that was intentional).

All in all, I was really pleased with the novel. It was written well (there were some errors I caught, but not enough to completely throw me from the flow of the book as I read) and had a strong narration by Shori. I'll definitely be checking out more of Butler's novels.

Overall rating: 8/10

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dream House by: Valerie Laken


Synopsis:

One terrible night. One outraged act. What price will people pay to hold their homes and dreams together?

When Kate and Stuart Kinzler buy a run-down, historic house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they're looking for a decent remodeling investment and a little space in which to rekindle their troubled marriage. Instead they discover that their home was the scene of a terrible crime many years ago—a revelation that tips the balance of their precarious union.

When a mysterious man begins lurking around her yard, Kate—now alone—is forced to confront her home's dangerous past. Hers is not the only life that has crumbled under this roof. But the stranger who has returned to this house—once his own childhood home—is in search of something Kate may never fully understand.
[from barnesandnoble.com]

I had the pleasure of meeting Valerie Laken earlier in June when she came to my school for a writer's conference we had. She talked some about the novel, such as what research went into it and how she got the idea. It was pretty cool to see those ideas she had been talking about at the conference in the novel.

I think Laken told a really good story. It was an entertaining novel with some strong, solid characters. I felt for all of them, and could really relate to each of them. I've read a couple of Laken's short stories and have noticed that she always has really strong characters in her stories, which is a major plus. And the house was a character itself, which was really cool. I liked the way Laken personified it and made it a living, breathing thing.

I also liked the setting. Ann Arbor just fit right with the story. It helped make the novel as realistic as it was. Reading it, you can almost believe that these characters are real and that this happened.

It's a strong debut novel, and I hope to see more from Laken in the future. I think she's coming out with a short story collection in the fall, which I'm pretty excited about. (One of the short stories she read at the conference; it was amazing.)

All in all, a very enjoyable read. It had that "man, I wanna know what happens next" quality to it that kept me interested until the end. I would recommend it to fans of strong character novels, who like a little mystery thrown in there, too.

Overall rating: 9/10
Cover Commentary: I love the cover. I think it's very striking, and even if I hadn't known about Laken prior to reading the novel, if I had seen it on a shelf somewhere, I probably would've picked it up. Works well for the story.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Behind My Eyes by: Li-Young Lee

On my latest trip to my local library I picked up a couple poetry collections that I've had my eye on for a while. This including Li-Young Lee's collection Behind My Eyes. I haven't been reading Li-Young Lee for long, but after reading this collection, he's steadily making his way to becoming a favorite. Some of his pieces are so heartfelt, so emotive, you can feel them. Some of my favorites in this collection include, "Immigrant Blues", "Hymn to Childhood," "Have You Prayed," "Virtues of a Boring Husband,"  and "To Hold."

The collection's main themes include: childhood, life, death, being an immigrant (Li-Young Lee was born in Indonesia to two Chinese parents), and Lee's father.

There were some poems I didn't care for in the collection, but not becase they weren't written well, just from personal style/prefereces.

I would recomend this collection to anyone looking to broaden their horizons concerning poetry.

Overall rating: 7/10








Saturday, June 19, 2010

Interpreter of Maladies: Jhumpa Lahiri

Synopsis:

Navigating between the Indian traditions they've inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri's elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In "A Temporary Matter," published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout. In the title story, an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing confession. Lahiri writes with deft cultural insight reminiscent of Anita Desai and a nuanced depth that recalls Mavis Gallant. She is an important and powerful new voice.
[from barnesandnoble.com]

I picked this collection up along with The Thing Around Your Neck at my local library, and I enjoyed it about as much as I enjoyed that collection. The stories were well written, I think Lahiri has a wonderful style to her writing. Each of the stories were realistic, with real situations and characters. I liked getting the chance to see and learn more about Indian culture through Lahiri's characters. Her descriptions painted a clear picture of the settings and characters. She put just the right amount of detail into her work.

As I said, I enjoyed every story in the collection. They each had an interesting tale to tell. I'd have to say I enjoyed "Sexy" and "The Third And Final Continent" the best.

I will definitely be checking out Lahiri's novels. If they're anything like her short stories, I know I'll enjoy them.

Overall rating: 10/10

Friday, June 18, 2010

Follow My Book Blog Friday


Hello! Because my blog is pretty tiny, I joined in on the fun of blog hopping because of a post Parajunkee made. So, hello to any new followers I might get! Leave a comment and tell me a little bit about yourself! (: And, of course, thanks so much for following! I hope you like what you see!

<3
Emily

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Thing Around Your Neck by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Synopsis:
These twelve dazzling stories from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — the Orange Broadband Prize–winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun — are her most intimate works to date.

In these stories Adichie turns her penetrating eye to the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Nigeria and the United States. In “A Private Experience,” a medical student hides from a violent riot with a poor Muslim woman, and the young mother at the centre of “Imitation” finds her comfortable life in Philadelphia threatened when she learns that her husband has moved his mistress into their Lagos home.

Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow and longing, this collection is a resounding confirmation of Adichie’s prodigious literary powers.
[from barnesandnoble.com]
 
There was not a story in this collection that I didn't enjoy in some way. Each was well written and contained individual tales that shown two completely different cultures. It was interesting to read the stories where the characters came to America, I liked seeing the differences between the cultures.
 
Her style of writing is simple but strong, and her descriptions are very vivid. She's a wonderful writer. Her stories were realistic; that's what I think made them so powerful. Her characters were people I could relate to, even though I come from a completely different background. Her characters were selfish at times and completely human.
 
If I were forced to choose, I'd say the first story was the weakest. I think the stories I enjoyed the most were probably the title story and "Tomorrow Is Too Far". But I liked all of them for separate reasons.
 
Adichie is also one of the only writers to write a story using "you" as the narration that I think works. Usually I'm not too fond of those sorts of narrations, but she made it work.
 
I'll definitely be reading more by her. If her novels are anything like her short stories, I know I'll love them. This was a great collection I'll definitely be re-reading.
 
Overall rating: 10/10

Japanese Literature Challenge Four


I'm really excited to be participating in the fourth Japanese Literature Challenge, hosted by the wonderful Dolce Bellezza. This will be the second year I have participated. Last time around I got the chance to read some amazing books, and it really opened my eyes to Japanese Literature. I cannot wait to delve into some more wonderful stories!


Care to join? You can go here to read a little bit more about the Challenge. And simply go to the review site to add in the link to your reviews! There is also a wonderful list of book suggestions that I know I'll be taking advantage of!

The challenge lasts from June 1st, 2010 until January 30th, 2011.

<3

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fire In The Blood by: Irène Némirovsky


Synopsis:

We hear the voice of Silvio: a man getting on in years who has returned to the village of his youth after a long time abroad. He lives by himself, enjoys his wine and his solitude. But a visit from his cousin Hélène and her husband François, with their future son-in-law in tow, begins to draw Silvio back into the life of his family and of this insular community, toward the revelation of secrets he and others have guarded for decades. As the novel unfolds, we are given an intimate picture of the web of marriage and infidelity, loyalties set against love, trust and betrayal, scandal vying with reputation, evils petty and potent, youthful passions and regrets of age that tie Silvio to both his past and the unexpected events of...(the present).

[from barnesandnoble.com. the end was cut off for some reason, so I added what I assumed they meant to be written after the elipsis.]
This is the first novel I've read by Irène Némirovsky, and I know it won't be the last. It was a well crafted story, taking place in a small French town, where everyone knows everyone, but doesn't like to get involved in anyone else's business but their own. It made for the perfect setting for the novel, especially when all the secrets from the past and the secrets in the present are unraveled.
 
At the core of this novel is youth and the passing of time. How when you're younger you have that "fire in your blood" that sometimes disapates when you get older, and how it's missed once it's gone.
 
I liked the main character's voice and how we get to see him change throughout the novella, and I liked the tiny glimpses into his past that we were shown, especially the ending bit.
 
All in all, a good story. Very easy to finish, but something that makes the reader think.
 
Overall rating: 7/10

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Beloved by: Toni Morrison


Synopsis:

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.
[from barnesandnoble.com]

This is a story I'll have to read again to fully understand and appreciate it. There are so many layers to Beloved and so many messages, it's hard to grasp each theme and idea the first time around. It definitely focuses on aspects of guilt, living with our pasts and trying to move on, defining ourselves as humans (there's a point in the story I loved where the main character, Sethe, is told that she has two legs, not four. It was a really powerful moment), and family.

The descriptions and ideas Morrison uses to paint a picture for something is so beautiful. The style of this book, much like The Bluest Eye, flows well and has a heavy poetic feel to it. The story is both raw and real, while also being dreamy and kind of like the state between being awake and asleep. Sometimes you don't really know what's going on until she hits you with an image so powerful you're left almost breathless, wondering how you got to that point without realizing what was happening.

I really liked the story. The characters left me wanting more at times, but they were well written. I could feel their pain, especially when they were talking about their past as slaves. Very emotional. The whole book is emotional, especially considering when it takes place. I liked how in the end Denver was stronger and became more independent. I really, really wanted to know what had happened to Halle though! I think not knowing worked for the novel, though. There were some aspects that were left to the reader's imagination, and I liked that.

I liked the supernatural aspect to the novel, and how it felt so realistic. It was well written.

All in all, this was a very good book. Not for the light-hearted, because it's very dark at times.

Overall rating: 8/10