Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Review: Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler (ARC Review)

Title: Hunger
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Genre: Teen Fiction, Eating Disorders Fiction, Fantasy
Publication Date: October 18, 2010
Publisher Book: Graphia
ISBN Book: 9780547341248
Pages: 180
Source: Received copy for review from library vendor. This is my honest review.

Hunger (Horsemen of the Apocalypse, #1)Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One night while attempting to overdose, a strange delivery man delivers a set of scales to Lisabeth Lewis and informs her that she is Famine and states, "Thou art the Black Rider; go thee out unto the world." Lisabeth, suffering from anorexia, now sees a horse in her backyard no one else can see, and is the proud owner of a set of magic scales. But how does one become Famine, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, when she can't even control her own life?

This book took me by surprise. When I first read the premise, I wasn't sure what to think of the book. It seemed to be a fantasy wrapped up in a book about a girl with an eating disorder. I tend to prefer my serious issue fiction separate from my fantasy, but I thought I would give it a try. I am glad I did.

This short book, is a prize. Kessler smoothly incorporates the fantasy and realistic elements. Lisa is a believable realistic heroine, who suffers from anorexia. She knows how many calories are in every bite of food, and sees nothing but a fat girl in the mirror. Turning this unlikely girl into Famine was a stroke of genius.

While the supporting characters are not as well developed as Lisa, they served their purpose and helped guide the reader through Lisa's story. I loved the character of Death, and really wanted to know more about him and the other horsemen.

This book was quirky and fun in parts, but didn't shy away from the more serious aspects of the eating disorder. I especially liked how Kessler handled the ending of the book, it felt both realistic and right for this novel. Hunger definitely takes a unique approach to a book about eating disorders, but one that informs and educates all the while making it more lighthearted than other novels on the topic.

Hunger comes out October 18, 2010. Now, if I can just get my hands on a copy of the sequel, Rage which isn't due out until April 18, 2011. I can't wait to see what happens next!

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Book Review: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Title: Hate List
Author: Jennifer Brown
Genre: Teen Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher Book: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN Book: 9780316041447
Pages: 416
Source: Received copy from publisher for committee work. This is my honest review of this book.

Hate ListHate List by Jennifer Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At the end of her junior year Valerie's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on students in their school cafeteria. Shooting kids and adults who appeared on a list Valerie and Nick had called the hate list. After shooting Valerie in the leg, Nick ultimately commits suicide, leaving Valerie to pick up the pieces in the aftermath. Now, five months later, Valerie is returning to that same school to finish her senior year. Viewed by some as Nick's accomplice and by others as the one who stopped the shooting, Valerie must come to terms with her own feelings, and her own guilt about that fateful day.

At first I had a little trouble getting into this book. It starts off a little bit slow, and I wasn't sure that I had the patience to plow through it. Once past the beginning however, the story takes off and becomes a very quick read.

It isn't an easy story to read. You feel conflicted throughout the novel. Valerie still loves Nick despite what he did, and she refuses to let you make him into the villain that we would so like to characterize him as. She is guilty of creating the Hate list, but you know she would never have acted out on the list. There is guilt on both sides, and dealing with the aftermath of the shooting is almost more than anyone can handle.

Brown is a brilliant writer, and makes sure that we see all the sides of the story, and that we feel all the pain there is to feel in this situation. Believe me, this is a book you will want to read with a box of tissues handy, because their is so much pain and grief that the characters have to deal with. She also doesn't shy away from making us see Nick as a victim as well as a villain. In a sense her writing reminds me of Jodi Picoult who is so good at making you see all sides of an issue.

I also found Valerie's parents lack of support disappointing. They don't believe their own daughter, and while from one perspective I can understand why their confidence in her is shaken, I can't imagine not believing her at all. I think these were the situations that had me in tears the most. The two people Valerie should have been able to count on let her down again and again.

Overall this is a great book, and really makes you think about the actions you take. Yes, this school had bullies, and victims, but their were survivors too, and it did show that people can change. My only criticism of the book would be the character Bea. Her presence seems like a late addition, and you never get the full story behind how she knows so much. I liked her, but I think we could have finished the novel without the addition of her character, but this is a somewhat minor flaw.

This would be a good novel for discussion.

View all my reviews

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: Right Behind You by Gail Giles

Title: Right Behind You
Author: Gail Giles
Genre: Teen Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: September 1, 2007
Publisher Book: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN Book: 9780316166362
Pages: 304
Source: Received copy from publisher for committee work. This is my honest review of this book.

Right Behind YouRight Behind You by Gail Giles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At the age of nine Kip MacFarland threw gasoline on seven year old Bobby Clarke and set him on fire. After years in a mental hospital Kip must now try to join society once more, but how do you make a future when your past is always right behind you?

This book is a difficult one for me to both read and evaluate. I am not a big fan of realistic fiction for one, and this is about as real as it gets. Secondly I had trouble with the violence, and just wanted to cry for the mother of Bobby Clarke. As a parent, I think my greatest fear is losing my child and to lose a child to such senseless violence. I wanted, really wanted, to sympathize with Kip, but no matter how much I liked Kip and appreciated his battles, I couldn't get past the fact that a child had died.

Giles is a master storyteller, and even though you know Kip did this horrible thing, you find yourself both rooting for his successes and condemning him for his actions. At points you want to stand up for Kip and say that you know he didn't mean for Bobby Clarke to die, and at others you too want to condemn him for his thoughtless and selfish actions. She makes her characters so real you can reach out and touch them and you share their pain.

This is definitely a tear jerker. The reader will find themselve frustrated and torn apart by all the injustices. It is a perfect example of how this isn't a perfect world and people have flaws.

My favorite character in this novel would have to be Kip's new stepmother, Carrie, who marries Kip's father and knows Kip's history. She was a trooper and unconditionally loves Kip because his father loves him--I just loved her.

Overall I would say that if you like realistic fiction and don't mind a few tears, this is a great book. It is an extremely fast read, and definitely worth picking up.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Thoughts: Moving a Library is Hard Work!

Yes, my library is still moving and we will be for the next couple of weeks.  I apologize in advance for any neglect my blogging may receive as a result.

We moved most of the adult books out last week, and were working on Childrens' books this week.  We load them onto any library carts we can find and six big wooden carts the movers have and then reshelve them at the new location.  Then we send them back for more books.  We started moving our AV department today and will eventually get around to moving YA.

I know it sounds simple, but we are talking about a whole main library full of books, computers, desks, files, cabinets, etc... and everything has to be moved.  My shoulder gave out yesterday from moving books, and I know most of us are feeling sore, achy, and just plain tired.  We just keep telling ourselves that it will be worth it.

Our library patrons are so excited, many of them can't wait for us to open at the new location.  It is nice to see them so excited about the library. 

In the meantime, I am reading very little.  Most nights I am too tired after moving books all day and have no desire to even look at books--it is kind of a love hate relationship if you know what I mean!  I have, however, finished two books, and will be posting their review shortly.

I promise when this move is over, I will be back to blogging on a regular basis.

Currently Reading (When I get the chance):

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healy (on audio CD)
Guardian of the Dead

Flygirl by Sherri Smith

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Title: The Demon King
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Genre: Teen Fiction, Fantasy
Publication Date: October 6, 2009
Publisher Book: Disney/Hyperion Books
ISBN Book: 9781423118237
Pages: 506
Publisher CD Book: Recorded Books
ISBN CD: 9781440736889 (13 Sound Discs)
Source:  Purchased the hardcover from local bookstore.  Checked out the book on CD from my local library.

The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Han Alister, once the famous streetlord of the Raggers better known as Cuffs, is trying to go straight for his sister Mari and his mother. He is out of the gang life, but leaving trouble behind isn't as easy as leaving the gang and changing professions. While hunting with his friend Dancer out on Hanalea he encounters three young wizards with a powerful amulet. Afraid that the wizards might try to use the amulet against him and Dancer, Han demands that they give him the amulet before they leave. Since taking that amulet, Han has known nothing but grief. Now street thugs are dying mysteriously and Han is the prime suspect.

Princess heir of the Fells, Raisa ana'Marianna, has discovered that she has lived a sheltered life, and doesn't know enough about the kingdom she will eventually help inherit. With the help of her friend, now a guardsman, Amon, Raisa hopes to find out more about life in her kingdom. But something bigger is going on. The wizards have too much power over the queen, and as Raisa's nameday approaches, the day she will be eligible to marry, she suspects something more sinister may be going on.

This is a long book, and at first seems rather daunting, but Cinda Williams Chima has a way of pulling you into the lives of her characters. Soon after starting, I found that I couldn't put the book down--it was simply addictive.

Chima's character development is outstanding. You are pulled into the lives of her characters and she makes them so believable you feel like you have known them for years. You root for their successes and you can feel their losses. Her characters are believable and well drawn, they act like you would expect them to, and are very real.

Chima has created a world of fantasy that is hard to leave. You want to understand the politics and the history of the Fells, and how they find themselves where they are now. The world building is rich and vibrant and invites you in to stay.

The audio version of this book, produced by Recorded Books and narrated by Carol Monda, is one of the best audio books I have listened to in a while. She does an excellent job with the individual voices and setting the mood of this fantastic fantasy novel. I was loath to stop listening to this book when it was time to get out of my car.

I know I am gushing on this book, but I can't help myself. It has to be one of my favorite fantasy reads this year, and I absolutely can't wait to move on to the sequel, The Exiled Queen which comes out September 28th, 2010.

If you aren't a fan of high fantasy with a lot of world building this book might not be what you are looking for. It kind of reminded me of Kristin Cashore's Fire, with the same type of involved world building. I felt that Chima did an excellent job with the world building and introducing this world through the characters that you grow to love. But I do understand that this type of fantasy isn't for everyone.

Overall, I loved this book and couldn't put it down. I can't wait for the next installment to see what happens to the characters I began to love in this novel. A great book!

View all my reviews

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Library Is Moving

Yes, you read that title correctly.  On Monday, September 13th we started our move back to our newly remodeled main library.  Let me tell you there are a lot of books in a library, and my hands have handled thousands of them this week.  Moving a library is back breaking work for everyone involved.  Yes we did hire movers, but they are mainly handling shelving and shipping our loaded and newly unloaded book carts back and forth between the temporary location and the remodeled building.  All of the unshelving, loading book carts, unloading book carts, and shelving of books has been done by the library staff, and boy are we feeling it EVERYWHERE.  My hands are so sore from moving books typing hurts, and that doesn't include shoulders and legs, or the bruises on my knees.

Moving a library isn't easy.  Anyone out there who has moved to a new house or new apartment and has had to move books knows they aren't light and it isn't easy.  We are excited though, to finally be returning to our permanent location, and we can't wait to open up (hopefully on October 10th).  We got most of the adult collection moved this week, with the exception of some of our nonfiction because the shelves have to be fixed before we can move them.  Next week we will start on Children's and sometime soon on YA.  Once we get into our newly remodeled building we will once more be at home.  It has been a tough year in our temporary location, so moving back is both exciting and grueling.  Wish us the best!

What this means to my readers:  Please be patient with me in the upcoming weeks.  This week most of my posts were scheduled ahead of time because when I get home from work it is all I can do to walk up the stairs to my bedroom.  My posts will be a bit sporadic during the move, but I hope to keep posting when I get the chance.

I have one review to write for Cinda Williams Chima's book The Demon King which I just finished.  I can save you the time of the review and just tell you to read it--definitely a 5 star review.  I loved it!  Exiled Queen by Chima, the sequel to The Demon King comes out September 28th and I can't wait to read it. 

I will continue to post and try to schedule posts when I can, but until after October 10th, things could be a bit slow.  I am still reading when I can prop my eyes open, or when I just hurt so bad I can't sleep--at least I can still read.

We will get this library moved and it will be wonderful.  Soon everything will be back to normal.  Wish us luck!

BBAW Day Five: Future Treasures

For BBAW today we have been asked to share what we have enjoyed about BBAW and to share our blogging goals for the next year.  BBAW has been a great opportunity to find some of the best blogs out there today, meet new bloggers, and reflect on what makes a great blog.  I have absolutely loved this opportunity, and it will hopefully encourage me to become a better blogger.  I had a wonderful time participating in the blogger interview where I met Sara from Glorified Love Letters.  She is a great blogger and a fascinating person.  I can't wait to read more of her posts!  It was a great way to find new blogs and wonderful to see all the great blog recommendations. 

My goals for the next year:
  • More quality posts.
  • Find time to post more often.
  • Rethink my design.
  • Keep working to make this blog a better place.
Do you have any goals for the upcoming year?  Would you like to see me add any additional goals to my list, and if so, what would they be?  How can I make my blog a better place?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

BBAW Day Four: Forgotten Treasure

My choice for the forgotten treasure theme is Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why.  This book took me by complete surprise and I can't recommend it enough.  It is a reminder that every action we make, no matter how small has the possibility of touching someone's life.  It is a unique book and an important one.

If you have the opportunity I would also recommend trying it out on audio.  This is probably one of the best books I have ever listened to on audio, and the format so suits the text of the novel that it is a great way to experience this wonderful book.  If you have never tried an audio book before, this one would be a great one to start with. 

Check out my review, and find out why I love Thirteen Reasons Why.

Thirteen Reasons Why

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

BBAW Day Three: Unexpected Treasures

The Iron King (Iron Fey, #1)

As you can see, my unexpected treasure was the book The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.  I read this book as part of the Blog With Bite monthly book discussion.  To be completely honest, it wasn't a book that I would have picked up on my own.  Faeries aren't usually my thing, but Kagawa's excellent writing and original story had me hooked.  It was like traveling down the rabbit hole and I really loved the parts of the story that take place in Never Never. I found the story so engrossing that I went on to book two in the series, Iron Daughter.  Now I eagerly await book three Iron Queen (due out 2/1/2011), and have added a new author to my favorite authors list.  Thank you Blog With Bite for choosing Iron King for one of your monthly books!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BBAW Blogger Interview with Sara from Glorified Love Letters

BBAW is a great event and a great opportunity to get to know other book bloggers.  This week I had the opportunity to interview Sara from Glorified Love LettersI really want to tell you how wonderful Sara's blog is, but I think the best way to find out is to check it out yourself.  Please drop by her blog, take a look around, and say hi!  In the meantime, here is your opportunity to find out a little more about Sara and Glorified Love Letters

Hi Sara, and welcome to my blog.  Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I'm 27 and live in Great Falls, Montana. It's a city of around 60,000 people. (Contrary to popular belief, it's not entirely ranches and farmland out here.) I'm the editor and publisher of Electric City Creative (, an online magazine dedicated to creative culture in the Great Falls area. I also edited a similar publication in Spokane, Washington, SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine (That's "Spoken Spokane"... Yeah, I know that title's weird.) 

When I'm not yammering on about music and books at Glorified Love Letters, I also write fiction and have recently completed a novel that is just starting the 'seeking representation' rounds. 

When did you start blogging?

I started blogging back in the early ages of Blogger, back in 2001. Prior to that, I'd occasionally post things on one of those creaky Angelfire-template pages, but I promise, I didn't use any automatically loading .midi files!

Why did you start blogging?

Originally it started out just as a way to document what was going on in my life -- What I did that weekend, college stuff, random thoughts, etc. I still keep a personal blog, but apart from people I know, I don't really advertise it. Apart from day-to-day things I had a few abandoned attempts at a blog for my writing or art, and I also had a food blog called When Dairy is Not Your Friend, but they didn't do much for me. 

When Glorified Love Letters started out in 2008, I wanted to talk about music. I love music just as much as writing (if not more, some days, depending on how it's going), and I started a project called 'Alphabet Soup,' where I talked about my favorite songs for each letter of the alphabet. I did one letter per week. Now I talk about music roughly once a month, usually after a new issue of Electric City Creative comes out.

The whole book review thing started in November 2009. The entertainment site was starting what they called their "Cannonball Read Challenge" in which 100 participants attempted to read and review any 52 books over the course of one year (I'm currently reading book #39, so I'm a little behind). Certain reviews are published on weekdays on Pajiba itself, and so far, they've published 10 of mine. I was always saying that, for being a writer, I should be more widely read. So this has helped tremendously --- otherwise I tend to get stuck going through the entire back catalogues of just a handful of writers. In music and in books, I'm a hopeless completest.

I love the name you chose for your blog, and picking a name is always the hardest part for me.  How did you get the name for your blog?

It popped into my head about a year before I did anything with it --- but this being the modern age, I knew well enough to reserve the URL on blogger. It's basically me making fun of myself. With my favorite bands (Oasis, in particular), I tend to get borderline evangelical when I talk about them. The subhead to Glorified Love Letters reads, "These aren't reviews! All I see here are glorified love letters!" It's just a reminder that I'm not trying to be overly intellectual in any commentary that I do -- I speak to how something moves me, and I don't really care what that means in grander scheme of culture.

(Whew! I'm going on and on! Bear with me.)

What type of books do you enjoy reading and reviewing?
I tend to read a lot of literary fiction (which seems like such a vague category and is sort of condescending to other genres, but what can you do?) and memoir. I'm interested in anything that is more character over concept. I'm interested in the people behind the situation and how they see their corner of the world. Somewhat predictably, I'm a sucker for just about any story relating to the UK, the 90s and/or music.

And because of the Cannonball Read challenge, I'm reviewing every book I read, something that I'll continue to do even after it's over, even if my pace slows down a bit.

You said your favorite book was Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon. Can you tell me a little about it and why it is your favorite?

Mysteries of Pittsburgh is about a guy named Art who is fresh out of college and facing his last summer before he has to make more "grown up" employment decisions. Around the same time, he meets a perpetual house-sitter named Arthur (yes, Art and Arthur) and a librarian named Phlox. He starts a relationship with Phlox, but is increasingly attracted to Arthur, and their friendship grows into a relationship, albeit a complicated one. The story basically comes down to Arthur realizing what is important to him --- deciding what is best for him, versus what is "expected" of him.

I love all of Michael Chabon's work, and while his Pulitzer winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is certainly excellent, I always seem to come back to this one as one of the handful of books I reread about once a year. I love that it treats (what I like to call) equal opportunity attraction as something very real -- that the genders of the characters are really beside the point. It's more about longing and loneliness more than anything. Plus, there are some funny parts. That's always good.

What is the one thing you want your readers to take away from your blog?

Follow your interests. Make no apologies for your tastes.

Is there anything you would like to add or anything you would like to let readers know about you or your blog?

You can follow me on Twitter @sshabein. It's thrill, chills and motorcycle spills, I promise

A big thank you to Sara for being my interview partner for BBAW and please stop by her blog, Glorified Love Letters, and say hi!

Monday, September 13, 2010

BBAW--First Treasure

This is my first time participating in BBAW and I can't wait to follow everything that is going on.  For today's post they asked us to post about a blog we found since BBAW last year or the first blog that really hooked us if we didn't participate in BBAW. 

The blog that really hooked me on blogging would have to be Blog With Bite.  I admit I never really considered myself a huge paranormal fiction fan, but Blog with Bite has shown me that I like the genre more than I thought.  I love how the ladies at Blog with Bite feature different aspects of paranormal fiction with whole weeks dedicated to one specific area of paranormal fiction (i.e. Vampire Week, Paranormal Romance Week, Wolf Week, etc...). 

But my favorite feature of Blog With Bite is the Monthly Book Review.  Every month readers get to vote on a new title for the monthly book review.  We all read the book, post our reviews and then link them the a post at Blog With Bite.  It is as close as I get to being in a book club and I really love it.  I have been surprised by the books that have been chosen and have found some wonderful new authors this way.  They do both an adult book and a teen book, and although I have only participated in the teen reviews it has been a lot of fun.  Head on over, and check out this' month's selections and join the fun.

Thank you to all the ladies who make Blog with Bite such as fabulous site!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday Thoughts: Oops I Almost Forgot

This week has gone so fast for me that I almost forgot it was Thursday.  As you probably saw from earlier this week I have been busy reading and attempting to finish the book required form my work committee this week.  I don't think that is going to happen.  So far I have finished two and that leaves me with 8 left to go.  I can do it, I can do it.  (At least I hope I can!) 

I am really pushing because the next few weeks are going to be tough.  Our library will be moving back into our newly remodeled building.  When we moved out a year ago, it was hard tiring work, and I expect the move back to be about the same.  If you don't hear from me a lot in the next few weeks it will probably be due to the fact that I am too exhausted to read or write.  I still plan on posting, but they may be a little more infrequent than normal.  Which again is why I need to finish these books before the first of October. 

Time for me to get back to my reading!  I decided to move past Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith and move on to Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten.  Back to the books!  Wish me luck!

Book Review: Shift by Jennifer Bradbury

Okay, just finished Shift and am off to pick up the next book from my stack--I think Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith is next on the slate, but I may have to see if there is something else in the stack that better suits my mood.  I find I am in the mood for more Shift.  It can be somewhat difficult starting your next book when that happens.  Well, enjoy the review and hopefully I will be back with another tomorrow--although my reading only week is being some what interrupted.  Mom is coming to visit this afternoon and will be going home tomorrow and my husband took the day off tomorrow, so I might have to kiss any reading time I had planned good bye for the rest of the week.  Anyway, wish me luck!  Eight more books to go!

Title: Shift
Author: Jennifer Bradbury
Genre: Teen Fiction, General Fiction, Mystery
Publication Date: May 20, 2008
Publisher Book: Atheneum
ISBN Book: 9781416947325
Pages: 256
Source: Received copy from publisher for committee work.  This is my honest review of this book.

ShiftShift by Jennifer Bradbury

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the summer after their senior year in high school, Chris and his best friend Win decide to bike across the United States from West Virginia to Seattle, Washington, but when something goes wrong and only Chris returns, questions are asked and suspicions are raised. What really did happen to Win, and why has he not come home?

I just finished reading this book a few minutes ago, and I usually like to let it sit a little before I write the review, but this time I thought I would give it a shot. I have to say that this book surprised me. When I first started it I thought it was a little slow going, but as I got to know both Chris and Win and their epic journey, I was hooked. I am not usually a realistic fiction fan, but those that catch me are usually ones that I will happily rave about--this will be one of them.

The characterizations are strong especially for Chris and Win, but even the side characters are well developed too. I found myself seriously liking FBI agent Ward, and even Chris's parents were priceless. I really liked Chris's dad and the fact that he supported his son's interests.

The pacing was a little slow in the beginning while Bradbury laid the groundwork for the story, but once the teens hit the road on their bikes the story is propelled forward at a nice pace.

I loved the descriptions of the places on their trip. Honestly it made me wish for more. I wanted to spend every minute of the book on the ride with Chris and Win and visit all the places they went to.

I loved the dynamic between the characters and their environment. The friendship between Chris and Win was dynamic and changing and you really wanted more. I loved the jokes and loved their sense of adventure and humor.

Overall, I will just say this is a fun read. You will laugh and you will cry and just reading it is an adventure. It is a short fast read that will leave you wanting more of their adventure across the United States. It is also a fascinating mystery that will have you hooked until the final resolution.

I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes realistic fiction with a touch of mystery. It is a book where the characters find their identities in the journey. A great book!

Okay, I will stop gushing now!

View all my reviews

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Okay, one down, eight more to go.  Actually, I finished this one Tuesday night and started Shift by Jennifer Bradbury.  I only have about 50 more pages of that to go, so I should go finish that one up.  In the meantime, here is my review of Patrick Ness's Knife of Never Letting Go.  

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Teen Fiction, Action Adventure, Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction
Publication Date: July 14, 2009
Publisher Book: Candlewick
ISBN Book: 9780763645762
Source: Received copy from publisher for committee work.  This is my honest review of this book.

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Todd has grown up in Prentisstown on New World, and is the last boy in the town, soon to be a man in less than a  month.  In Prentisstown every man can hear the thoughts of other men and even animals and they call this Noise. A germ caused the noise, and killed all of the women of Prentisstown, but Todd finds out that buried deep beneath all the Noise is a secret that they have been keeping from him his entire life.  A secret that that has him running for his life from people who know his every thought.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in the Chaos Walking series and I am honestly not sure what to say about this book.  It was both an interesting and well written book, but despite this I had a hard time pushing myself through the book. I felt that Todd needed to know more sooner, and because of all the delays in him finding out the truth, I kept wanting to set the book down. The first few chapters were a little on the slow side, but once you pass them, the book picks up pace, but still not knowing what was going on was more than a bit frustrating. 

I loved the characterization especially Manchee, Todd's dog.  I felt that I could really love that dog.  Todd is interesting and fully developed as a character.  We see both his good side and his bad side and we see how the lies he has been told have influenced his outlook on the world.

One other note for the reader: Be prepared for the dialect of the book.  For instance instead of preparations you will find the word "preparayshuns." In most cases it was pretty self explanatory, but you may find a couple of places where you will do a double take. 

The dystopian/SF plot of this novel is interesting and you know I usually love dystopias, but again for some reason this book slowed me down.  I honestly can't explain why I had so much trouble staying with this book.  It was action packed and pretty fast paced.  That is usually something that keeps me reading.  The only thing that I can think of was my frustration with how little I knew about Todd's world, and my disappointment that it took so long to get to the big revelations.  I am grateful that I finished this novel though, and will probably be picking up book two in the Chaos Walking series just to see what happens next.

This book does end in a bit of a cliff hanger so you will definitely want to have book two, The Ask and the Answer handy so you can move right into that one to find out what happens. Book three, the final book in this series is due out this month on September 28th, 2010 and is titled Monsters of Men.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This Week

I took this week off work so I could get some serious reading done. The committee I am on for work meets in one month, and before then I have to finish nine books.  Since it looks like my library will be spending the next few weeks moving back into our newly remodeled building, I won't have any time to read at work--not that I get much time for reading at work normally.  So my goal this week is to finish as many of those nine books as I possibly can.  I love to read, but unfortunately for me I am a slow reader--especially if it isn't something I would normally pick out for myself.  I will review as time allows.  The first of those nine books that I am tackling is Patrick Ness's book The Knife of Never Letting Go.  I have less than 250 pages left, and really hope to finish it today.  (Wish me luck, I will certainly need it!)

Now reading:

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Review: My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison (You Choose I Review August Book Selection)

Title: My Fair Godmother
Author: Janette Rallison
Genre: Teen Fiction, Action Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: December 22, 2009
Publisher Book: Walker & Co.
ISBN Book: 9780312370169
Source: Received copy from publisher for committee work.  This is my honest review of this book.

My Fair GodmotherMy Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Savannah’s boyfriend, Hunter, dumps her for her smarter older sister Jane, Savannah’s heart is broken.  In steps Chrissy Everstar, her own personal fair godmother.  Chrissy is only a fair godmother because she isn’t the greatest student.  Which becomes evident when she begins to grant Savannah’s wishes and Savannah end up living as Cinderella in the middle ages.  After more mishaps and misinterpreted wishes, Tristan a boy at Savannah’s school is sent back to the middle ages, and Savannah too must return to help save Tristan from the fate she inadvertently wished on him.

This book was highly entertaining.  There were moments when you just wanted to laugh out loud.  Rallison is a talented author and knows how to develop her characters.  All of her characters were well developed and interesting with maybe the exception of the shallow Chrissy—I would have loved to spend more time with her.  The dialogue between the characters was witty and superb and I loved how the curses kept Savannah from lying—sometimes the truth was funnier than an outright lie.

I only wish that Savannah was depicted as not being so dumb.  She is constantly saying that she is and comparing herself to her brilliant older sister, but you know she isn’t so when she does dumb things you get really mad at her.  Savannah follows her heart not her head, and while she often means well, things don’t always turn out the way they should.  I also felt that Rallison had the opportunity to give Savannah some serious girl power, but instead of giving her the opportunity to prove it and use it, Savannah is always having to be saved and protected by Tristan.  Just once, I wished she would have saved him by kicking somebody’s butt. 

The pacing is smooth and the story progresses steadily in the beginning and really picks up speed near the end.   It kept you reading and wanting more.

Rallison’s descriptions of the middle ages were fun and fairytale like, but tended to gloss over the grittier aspects of life in the middle ages.  I think there was a whole aspect of taking a modern girl like Savannah to the middle ages and introducing her to a world without modern conveniences that would have been hilarious.  We aren’t every really told how she adapts so quickly. 

Overall this was a fun and entertaining book.  I will definitely be picking up the sequel to see what happens next.  The sequel, My Unfair Godmother comes out April 12, 2011. 

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thursday Thoughts: Why I Like Dystopian Fiction

Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)The Dead-Tossed Waves (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #2)Matched

Whether it is true dystopian or post-apocalyptic, I have found myself drawn to this type of fiction.  The idea of a world gone horribly wrong and the characters living in that world trying to find a way to escape is for some reason is terribly addictive to me.  At the moment, I would even go so far to claim that it is my favorite genre.

For those who aren't familiar with the term dystopian, a dystopia is the opposite of a utopia.  It is a world where everything is supposed to be perfect, but the cost of that perfection is usually pretty high, and the characters often find themselves wondering if that perfection is worth the price and the sacrifices they make.  Examples of dystopian literature include; 1984, The Giver, The Hunger Games, and many more.  Post-apocalyptic fiction includes fiction where some kind of disaster, disease, or other traumatic event has occurred.  It is possible for the novel to be both dystopian and post-apocalyptic if it was that traumatic event that led to the formation of the dystopian society-both The Hunger Games and Caragh O' Brien's Birthmarked would fall into this category.

For some reason this genre calls to me and I can't help but pick up titles that qualify.  I can't truly explain it, but perhaps my reaction to Susan Beth Pfeffer's book Life as We Knew It (LAWKI) will explain it some.  When I first read LAWKI it was at the beginning of the economic crash.  My community, an automotive town was really feeling the pinch.  Things were hard all around.  Our newly purchased house was losing value by the day, there were layoffs for the first time in the history of the library where I worked and all of us were afraid that we would be next.  My husband and I stayed up late making contingency plans and talking what ifs and planning what we could do if the worst were to happen.  This was also shortly after the birth of our son who had been born 9.5 weeks early and having a child that premature can cause stress and worries all of its own.

When I picked up LAWKI the story so enveloped me and Pfeffer's world building was so convincing, that I found myself wanting to go out and stock up the pantry for the end of the world.  As I read the book I kept thinking, I need more bottled water, can goods, etc...  The funny thing was, I wasn't the only one who had that response to the book one of my co-workers did too!  I know to some of you that may sound completely nuts, but good, well written literature does have a way of drawing a reader into the world and making it real for them.

In some ways dystopias can act as a kind of social commentary whether it is meant to or not.  In The Hunger Games kids fight in a televised fight to the death--reality television to the extreme and of course you can connect this to the gladiatorial fights in ancient Rome.  With almost any dystopian book, you can see a remote connection to our current world.  In O'Brien's Birthmarked and in Paolo Bacigalupi Ship Breaker their books focus on a dramatic climate change.  In some cases the stories seem ripped from the headlines and in others they seem reminiscent of video games.  (Do the zombies in Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead Tossed Waves remind any one else of the video game Resident Evil where and evil corporation has created a virus that turns people into zombies? Which is a commentary of its own on the business of making biological weapons.) 

In the end I would say I like dystopias because they make me think about my world and make me grateful for what I have and make me more eager to change what needs changing to keep my son from experiencing a world gone wrong. 

Some Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic Fiction I have read:

The Hunger Games / Collins (whole series)
Life as We Knew It / Pfeffer
Birthmarked / O'Brien
1984 / Orwell
Little Brother / Doctrow
Dark Life / Falls
Matched / Condie--coming November 30, 2010
Incarceron / Fisher (Sapphique--coming December 28, 2010)
Forest of Hands and Teeth / Ryan (Dead Tossed Waves)
Maze Runner / Dashner
City of Ember / Du Prau
Unwind / Shusterman
Genesis Alpha / Rune
Neptune's Children / Dobkin
Adoration of Jenna Fox / Pearson
Uglies (series) / Westerfeld
Declaration / Malley
Giver / Lowry
Among the Hidden / Haddix
Gardener / Bodeen

What else have you read?  What would you recommend that I read? 

For more information on this fascinating genre or for a list of new and upcoming dystopian releases check out these articles from Publishers Weekly:

Children's Books: Dystopian Novels for Teens, Present and Future

Children's Books: Apocalypse Now

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

YAY!!! August is Over and September is Here! News and Updates

Since September is here that means the August Read Your Own Book Challenge is up and those of us who valiantly resisted temptation, avoided bookstores and online booksellers, are free to enter the market place once more in search of those wonderful books we love so much.  Yes, we were tempted many times along the way, but we managed to make it through the month. 

Personally, I did learn a few things about avoiding temptation--don't go into a bookstore, you will be tempted to buy.  I only bought two this month and that was for author signings at CYPD.  I am thrilled that I did so well and I want to thank everyone who participated with me or just gave me some moral support.  I think I will try to apply what I learned to September, but I am not going to restrict myself like I did last month.  Just use some common sense...Do I really need to stop at the bookstore on my way home and is it really necessary to be browsing through Amazon and Barnes and Noble when I am not looking for something specific? 

Anyway we made it to the end and I have a winner to announce.  I want to thank all of you who signed up and I wish I had something for all of you, but unfortunately there is only one winner and that winner is....

Congratulations Jamie, and thank you to all of you who participated and provided moral support to me through this month.  

If you haven't yet, please continue to post your updates on the final update post Read Your Own Books August: Final Update.  I would love to hear how everyone did!  

So now that I can, what should I buy???  Hee Hee Hee!


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