Monday, January 31, 2011

The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland

The fact that I read this novel in a day should give you an indication as to my appreciation for it.  This book demands that it be consumed in one sitting.  It tears you down and you have to keep with it if you want to be built back up.  The Bite of the Mango is the story of Mariatu Kamara, who was caught by armed child rebels on her way back home to get some supplies from a small town in Sierra Leone.  In gruesome detail, she tells us of her experience of losing her hands--the price she paid to live.  Mariatu is an inspiring human being and a very honest narrator.  It amazes me still that no matter how many novels I read about civil war in African countries, I am constantly captivated by the beauty and resilience of its residents.  Mariatu has an infectious spirit that has allowed her to overcome tremendous odds and hardships.  Reading her story is humbling, and I implore you to pick up her book. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Great and Terribly Beauty by Libba Bray

This is the story of a girl who is sent to a boarding school and discovers that she has secret magical powers.  It's not until she gets there that she starts to develop a curiosity for the dreams she's been having.  Different magical characters pop up in the story to warn her against her powers and help her along the way.  She forms a sort of sorrority with some of the other girls at the school that she has on and off relationships with.  The main character, Gemma, lost her mother to a dark shadow years ago, and she's been blaming herself ever since.  It seems that Gemma's powers and the other world that they take her to might help her solve the mystery behind her mother's death.  I was hoping for stronger relationships between the characters.  The girls were sometimes catty and spineless, especially for 19th century folk.  I think I was expecting something darker and quicker paced than what I got.  I've got two more by Libba Bray on my e Reader, but I doubt I'll be jumping at the chance to read them.  The last 30 pages were the most boring, when they should have been the most captivating. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Stick a fork in me, I'm done!

I've noticed that recently I've been staying far, far away from typically 'girly' books.  In fact, I usually make a point not to read them at all.  The book I'm currently reading, A Great and Terrible Beauty, occasionally reminds me why I don't bother with them.  I'll review it soon, but not in this post. 
Lately I feel drawn towards books that would most often appeal to boys.  Why?  I'm kind of done with romance.  I'm pretty sure every vampire book out there quite near killed romance for me.  I like adventure books and survival stories lately.  I only allowed the romance going on in The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves because I felt that there was enough zombie killing to balance out the romance scale. It's not that the writing is better in these books, it's that the action grabs hold of you and doesn't slow down to let you brood about the main character's love interest.  Finally, something else besides romance! 
What are your favourite books that aren't so focused on romance? 

Friday, January 21, 2011

I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

This novel appealed to me originally, and I just don't know why.  I hate books about aliens and everything remotely sci-fi.  In my entire university career, the only course I ever failed was Introduction to Science Fiction (appealed, won!), a measly little half year course with the obvious reading list:  Time Machine, This is the Way the World Ends, The Lathe of Heaven (read: yuck).  I hated the books, and I LOVE books.  I don't identify with them at all (although somehow I do with zombies...) and I feel like I used to feel shopping with my mother as a child--dragged around.  Yes, science fiction (you don't even deserve CAPS!) makes me want to have an honest to goodness temper tantrum!  I mean an awesome, 5 year old starfish position arms flailing legs kicking temper tantrum!

I don't  love I am Number Four.  But now you understand it's because of my bias towards science fiction.  This 'kid' is one of nine kids from the destroyed planet Lorien who escaped with their guardians.  They now live on Earth and are being hunted down one by one in order by the Mogadorians.  Three are dead, our main character is number four.  He's moved around a lot and finally made friends, likes a girl and stands up to the school bully.  But the Mogadorians are moving in right when he is realizing his powers to defeat them (but they aren't well developed yet) and you are left to wonder if he will finesse his powers in time. 

Read it if you like the kind of science fiction where nothing is logical and you are okay with that, otherwise, pass! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Despite all of the negative build up I had going for this book, it turned into quite an enjoyable read.  I still see "Hold me Closer Tiny Dancer" every time I look at the cover, but that's besides the point.  This book taught me not to fall asleep while reading.  What a lesson!  Seriously though, there's so much packed into this debut novel that you really can't be falling asleep while attempting to get through it.  You miss important parts of the storyline and it's all over.  I did myself a favour and re-read and then it all made sense.  There is really enough in here for several more books, but we'll see if McBride has any intention of pursuing this storyline (she'd be crazy not to, the movie version was already coming together in my head as I was reading it).  Anyways!  This is a story of how my life got flip turned upside down and I'd like to take a minute just sit right there, er, I mean, this is a story of a guy who finds out he's a necromancer.  As in, he can summon the dead.  When we first meet Sam, he's at Plumpy's working his crummy job with his best friends.  He quickly gets into a great deal of trouble, finds out all sorts of scandalous family secrets, and is forced to go up against the most powerful necromancer.  There are so many side stories going on in this book, I don't know where to begin, so I think I just won't.  I am so confident that this will turn into more books that I will just wait to review those.  Also, if you haven't picked up the song reference yet, I will point out that each chapter is cleverly summed up with the title of a song.  This book won't be loved by all, but it certainly won't be loved if you fall asleep while reading it.  SO WAKE UP and enjoy.   

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

I read this book last year, and it was such a page turner that I literally burnt out the light bulb in my reading lamp.  It's the first novel in a series of who-knows-how-many yet, and it's so good that I think about when the next installment will come in at least 3 times a week and like I said, IT'S BEEN A YEAR since I read it.  Now that's staying power.  Lockdown: Escape from Furnace is a story of a kid who is accused of killing his best friend- a crime he didn't commit.  While this kid isn't exactly the poster child of innocence, he's also not a cold blooded killer, but that doesn't matter in a world where there is a zero-tolerance policy towards young offenders.  He gets taken to a prison deep underground called Furnace, where he has to worry about other inmates, vicious gangs and malicious guards.  If that's not enough to worry about, when the blood lights come on, he's also got the monsters coming into inmates' cells and taking them away.  The only thing keeping him alive down there is the hope for escape, something everyone says is completely impossible and surely fatal.  You can't help but wonder during this whole thing, how the world came to be this way, throwing kids underground, without any intent for them to ever see the light of day again.  You won't want to put this one down.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Got Kobo?

My new Kobo eReader is probably one of my favourite things.  It's light (although my mother says it makes her wrists cave in), thin, and it carries any book I could ever want to read!  The books are often cheaper to buy than hard copies (albeit you are buying a virtual copy), and I can borrow books from the library instantly!  I haven't actually activated the WiFi aspect of the Kobo, but I'm sure when I need it, I'll be happy I purchased the newer model that includes this feature.  You can load your Kobo with as many books as you can think of, but you are always going to want to add another one to the list when you least expect it.  I haven't had any real issues with the machine yet, but minor ones like not being able to turn the page fast enough if I am looking for a specific line or paragraph somewhere else in the book.  I also haven't figured out how to get a book off the Kobo once I'm finished reading it and I don't want it there anymore.  These are all simple things that I'm sure I will solve by messing around with it some more.  I never thought I'd trade in a paper copy of a book for an e-version, but some occasions call for it.  Like traveling!  And reading really fat books.  Now back to Hold Me Closer least peoples' heads are starting to roll around and talk!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh, go shelve it!

I was having a conversation with one of my "book suppliers" today and she was asking me how I am liking the copy of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer that she passed along to me.  I'm only just well into the second chapter and so far haven't gotten into the book at all.  In her opinion, the second chapter didn't give me the right to have a comment about the quality of the book.  So my question is, at what point can you/should you abandon a book?  When I was a kid, I would never have dreamed of abandoning a book.  At this point though, I know that there are millions of books out there and I'll never get to them all, so I refuse to waste my time on the ones that I'm having trouble consuming!  Also, reading is supposed to be pleasurable, and I just haven't got the time to torture myself with a slow/boring book when I'm supposed to be absorbed by it.  So, having said that, I'm going to go and reconnect with Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and hope that I have some nice things to write about it in the next few days.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Usually, when you read a  book about suicide, you meet the victim long before they commit their final act.  You read the warning signs, wonder why their friends don't notice, why nobody intervened or reached out to help.  In Jay Asher's debut novel Thirteen Reasons Why, you get a clear picture of the victim's (Hannah Baker) thought process.  It answers the questions you always wanted to ask the victim, mainly WHY?  Why would you kill yourself?  What led you down this path?  Why didn't you reach out to ask for help?  When the book begins, Hannah Baker is already dead.  But she leaves her legacy in the form of audio tapes that get passed from person to person, each who she deems played some kind of role in her death, knowingly or otherwise.  In some cases, the domino affect is enough to make you sick to your stomach, as you realize cause and effects at the same time that the main character Clay, her friend who listens attentively and in horror to these tapes.  He needs to know what he did to contribute to her early death.  In the end, the reader is left with a powerful lesson about how we choose to treat each other.  Pick it up.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

I was going to go ahead and write a breath-taking first blog entry, but I decided, what's the point?  You aren't getting breath-taking ever again, so I might as well not start you off on the wrong foot.

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan is a must read for anyone who's got a thing for zombies.  I happen to be interested in playing out how we would live if this ever were the case.  Which is why I've got enough food and ammo to be considered a corner store from the 50s.  This novel is an in-depth read into what life might be like if zombies were prevalent and we had to re-create our lifestyles.  The Dead-Tossed Waves is actually the second book in the series, first novel being The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  I assumed you'd already read the first book though, because it's too good to pass up.  Lesson?  Question what other people/institutions/religion tells you, and keep your hands away from the fences!  I hope you'll pick it up, even if you don't happen to like zombies or already be in love with one.