Tuesday, November 25, 2008

M Is For Magic

One of my favourite authors of all time is Neil Gaiman. I've read almost everything that he's written and if I haven't, it's on my to-read list. I recently read two books by him and loved them both. The first was M Is For Magic, a book of short stories, and the second was InterWorld, which he wrote with Michael Reaves, which I don't think I'll review even though I loved it. It's just that it was a rather complex book and I feel it would be difficult to review. And I'm lazy. So what?

M Is For Magic by Neil Gaiman

Summary (from the back of the book and I'm using @ signs for bullets, because that's the best thing I can find and for some reason, I can't make a bulleted list. It's weird): Master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a breathtaking collection of tales for younger readers that may chill or amuse, but that always embrace the unexpected:

@ Humpty Dumpty's sister hires a private detective to investigate her brother's death.

@ A teenage boy who has trouble talking to girls finds himself at a rather unusual party.

@ A boy raised in a graveyard makes a discovery, and confronts the much more troubling world of the living.

Review: Have you ever read a book where it's so good and so realistic that even though it's fantasy, you wonder, "Did this really happen?" No? Guess you're going book shopping then, huh?

There's a certain story in this book, that's called, "The Price," where the main character is an adult male author and the way it's written, that little voice in the back of your head whispers, "This sounds like it really happened, this sounds real," despite the fact that the logical little voice in your head is saying much more loudly, "There's no way this really happened."

Something I loved about the book was that even though that particular story was serious, there were others that had funny moments. And the author can turn a phrase like no one else. There's one part where he's describing a character, whose brothers call him the Runt. He writes "The Runt was a thin ten-year-old, small, with a runny nose and a blank expression. If you were to try to pick him out of a group of boys, you'd be wrong. He'd be the other one. Over at the side. The one your eye slipped over."

I loved that, but I'm not even sure why. It just made me laugh. And, okay, I'm easily amused at times, but still. It was funny.

Conclusion: Well, this is no surprise, but I loved it. I loved that these weren't stories written for kids, even though it's an ages ten and up book. Instead, they're stories he thought younger readers would like. I've actually read some of them in other books. Like I said, Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors and a large chunk of my favourite books are by him. M Is For Magic is no exception. Ask me if I think you should read it. "Should we read this, Laina?" (I'm putting words in your mouths here.) "Well? Should we?"

Yes, people, you should read this. You should read this as soon as it's humanly possible to do so, and then go and tell your best friend about it, it's that good.

Well, I think that's about it for now, so... leave a comment if you want and come back soon to see what's happening around here. Til then, happy reading.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Contest!!

Once again, it's not mine. Check out this really cool blog http://justlistenbookreviews.blogspot.com/ for more information. Good luck!!

Monday, November 18th, 2008

Thanks for tagging me, Emily!! (Her blog is http://thatonegirlemily.blogspot.com/, in case you all are wondering. You can go check it out if you want. I'll wait. Okay, are you back yet? Good.)

The Rules: Open the closest book to you-not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment. Turn to page 56 and write out the fifth sentence as well as the next two to five sentences. Pass this on to five blogging friends.

So my book is M Is For Magic by Neil Gaiman

Then he turned and walked back to the city.
***(break here)
They were playing a game not unlike tennis with heavy-strung racquets and jeweled skulls for balls. The skulls were so satisfying in the way they thunked when hit cleanly, in the way they curved in great looping parabolas across the marble court. The skulls had never sat on human necks; they had been obtained, at great loss of life and significant expense, from a demon race in the highlands, and, afterward jeweled (emeralds and sweet rubies set in a lacy silver filigree in the eye sockets and about the jawbone) in Carthus's own workshops.

That was fun. I love Neil Gaiman's books, he's one of my all time favourite authors. I think I'll review this later.

Okay, so if you want to do this, leave a comment telling me and I'll tag you.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Alchemist

Another review!!

The Alchemist by Donna Boyd

I'm actually not sure how I feel about this one, not entirely. I love fantasy books, it's just about my favourite genre, but I'm not sure about this one.

Summary from the back of the book: An elegant man sits in the office of Dr. Anne Kramer, confessing to a heinous murder in the highest echelons of power that has horrified the modern world. Little knowing that her own destiny is irrevocably tied to his, Anne listens to Randolf Sontime's story. "It began with the magic, you see. And so, perforce, must I." As a boy named Han at the House of Ra, an isolated oasis in the Egyptian desert of a far ancient time, Sontime was trained in the science of alchemy - sorcery and miracles. Only two other initiates were as skilled as he: Akan, a boy whose thirst for knowledge was matched only by his hunger for truth; and Nefar, a beautiful girl filled with wonder and ambition. Together they discovered theirs was a power unmatched in the physical world. That is until that fateful moment when their alliance was forever damned, their gifts horribly corrupted....

My review: I haven't read anything else by Donna Boyd, but The Alchemist was very well written, one of those books you can get lost in for hours at a time, and if it's an example of what her other works are like, I'm anxious to read more.

My only issue is some... mature content. Well, now I sound like a movie rating system. But my point is that the book itself deals with mature themes (movie rating again), the whole power struggle thing, you know? And that was handled very well, that's not my issue. Normally, I wouldn't even mention it, but it's just that they was some... well, more than PG-13 stuff in it. Personally, it didn't really bother me, but if there was a rating, I didn't see it (but I am admittedly a little unobservant) and I felt there definitely should be, because there's nothing really on the cover or back that suggests the age or maturity that it's aimed at. And that's a pet peeve of mine that you don't want to get me started on.

Conclusion: Although I had some issues with the maturity of the book, it wasn't a particularly bad thing as I believe I am a (sorta) mature reader myself and it was a good read and while it wasn't one of my favourite books, it definitely is going on my recommend list.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Contest

Well, sorry to disappoint, but it's not mine. Head over to here: http://booksaremylove.blogspot.com/ to enter.

Heck Superhero

Another review!! Oh, darn it, I need a picture. Why do I keep forgetting that? Okay, people, be right back.

Heck Superhero by Martine Leavitt

This one actually is young adult. It's rated ages 12 and up on Red Deer Press' website, which is, of course, the company that published it. It's 144 pages long and... my copy was hardcover... and... dudes and dudettes, it's a book. You all know what they look like.

Summary (reddeerpress.com because the summary on the inside flap of the dust jacket is really long and I don't want to type all that): Thirteen–year–old Heck is a pretty normal kid with some artistic talent and a hyperactive imagination. Life with his mother has been hand-to-mouth but not catastrophic. He has a modest, passive support system: his best friend and some kindly acquaintances.

When he and his mother are evicted, she assumes he's staying with his friend. Heck, confident of his own ability to get by and wanting to protect his mother from criticism, decides not to ask for help. For the next few days he brushes up against a harsher reality than he anticipated. He's hungry, broke, homeless and plagued by a toothache.

Heck has a series of encounters involving varying degrees of callousness, harshness, and risk. He sustains himself (and the reader) with his wit, imagination and optimism. As Heck faces the challenges of growing up on the streets—including drugs, pain, hunger, theft and homelessness—he must come to terms with his choices, his perceptions of himself, and his perceptions of others.

Heck Superhero is award–winning author Martine Leavitt's most recent foray into the world of today's urban teenager. Heck is as real as Martine's other troubled teenager, Tom Finder. And, like Tom Finder, Heck must find the inner strength to face the truth.

My review: Heck was not an easy character for me to like. He was gullible. He was in total denial. When things got bad, he refused to deal with the real world, choosing instead to hide in his superhero fantasies. At times he was just plain stupid.

But he was also so darn sweet I just couldn't stop reading. He loved his mom so much that he refused to tell anyone that she'd gone missing. He believed that by doing good things, Good Deeds, he called them, things would go right for him. Believed that he alone good find his mom when she disappeared and that would fix everything. It really did amaze me how innocent he was.

One thing that cracked me up was his best friend Spence, who is the total opposite of Heck. At one point, Heck calls Spence from a mall pay phone and during their conversation, Heck admits that he tried a drug called Velocity Nine because his teeth hurt so badly, and Spence yells, "What did you say?"

Heck said, "I'll never do it again."

After another silence, Spence said very calmly, "So you did the stupid thing, huh? You did Velocity Nine?"

Heck didn't answer.

"You've joined the stupid crowd, become one of the stupid."

"I know," Heck said. "I won't-"

"Didn't we talk about the Hi-Ho stupidity of that?"

Spence has some great lines like that, and I actually wish he'd been a more prominent character. And unlike some other books that I've read lately, Levitt doesn't make out teenagers doing drugs to be an everyday thing, no big deal, just all fun and games. She is clear that there are serious consequences and dangers, and I very much liked that.

Summary: While this book is somewhat similiar to others using this format, mainly Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt, it's very good, definitely worth reading, and it's going on my recommend list. It even made me cry at the end, but I'm not going to tell you why. Happy reading, people!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Second review - Strangers in Death

Ever noticed that if you spend alot of time online, and you don't read for a while, you forget how good it feels to polish off a good book? Like stretching a really relaxing, nice muscle. I don't know, maybe I'm weird (well, of course I am, but that's besides the point) but it's... nice.

Anyway. Time for my second review. Oh, shoot, I need a picture. Be right back.

Strangers in Death by J. D. Robb

I love murder mysteries. I read a lot of YA books, but I do so love a good murder mystery. I know, I'm twisted, but I guess it's that same part of me that loves vampire books.

The best of the best of murder mysteries is the In Death series by J. D. Robb. They are adult books, so I wouldn't recommend them to everybody, but they're pretty clean, except that sometimes she gets a little detailed about the murders. That's to be expected, though.

One warning. There are thirty books in this series. If you want a complete list, here's the link. CAUTION: Don't scroll up or down or you'll get a small spoiler. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Death#Books So while these books are a commitment, they are so worth it. I'm addicted to them. This last one was five hundred pages (large print) and I finished it in one night, that's how addicting they are. And because I'm just brilliant, I read it on Halloween. When I was alone in the house that wasn't mine because I was baby-sitting and my charge was out trick-or-treating, and then he almost immediately went to sleep so I was again, basically alone.

Summary (from the back of the book): Technology may be different in 2060 New York, yet the city is still a place of great divides. As ever, some murders receive more attention than others, especially when the victim is a prominent businessman, found tied to his bed and strangled with cords of black velvet. While people of the city are talking about it, those close to Thomas Anders aren't so eager to do the same. Evidence suggests that the victim didn't struggle and that the killer was someone known to the family, but everyone's alibi checks out. Was this a crime of passion or a meticulously planned execution?

My review: Ooh, I get all shivery when I think about it. This was so good. Like I said, best of the best. I always try to guess who the murderer is by around the third chapter and I'm usually never right. Never. Out of thirty books, I've maybe gotten it right twice. But still it's fun.

I also love that the main character is a woman police officer, a lieutenant, actually, and that she is in a successful marriage. Honestly, the relationship between Eve Dallas, the main character, and Roarke who as far as I know, doesn't have a first name (long story, you'll have to read the books to find out), her husband is one of the single most beautiful love stories I've ever read. At one point, when she's discussing the case with him and she says,

"So, you're dead asleep, and you get a call. Something terrible's happened, and I'm dead. What do you do?"

It took him a moment to quell the terror, to ignore the small, dark place inside him that feared getting that call every day.

I almost started crying when I read that, because it's so sweet.

Conclusion: This is a great book, definitely worth reading, and I sincerely hope there are many, many more. This is one of those books where you find yourself reading lines out loud because it's just so darn good.

And that's my review, so, until next time, happy reading, leave a comment if you want, and come back soon to see what I've done with the place.
-Yours, Laina.