Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Friday, February 18, 2011
Hi there, space cadets! Please join me in giving a warm welcome to fiction and nonfiction author, Jim Mastro! Jim is the author of several books about his experiences in Antarctica, as well as The Talisman of Elam, the first book in the Children of Hathor series. He's stopped by today to talk a bit about his experiences with writing The Talisman of Elam.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. –Goodreads
I’m not ashamed to admit that I was hesitant to read this book even after I bought it. Over the last few months I’ve read countless reviews praising it…and countless reviews dishing it. The mixed messages left me unsure of what to expect. This, now that I think about it, was probably for the best. If I had approached this book thinking it was going to be my favorite read of the year I would have been left crying in disappointment. That’s not to say that Across the Universe was terrible, but it had its issues.
First, a bit about what I actually liked: what engaged me most about this book was the world Revis created. The thought of living on a ship filled with incest, lies, mind-dulling drugs and murderous dictators chilled me to the core, and there were quite a few scenes where I had to pause and remind myself that I wasn’t reading a psychological thriller. I genuinely felt bad for Amy and the life she had to look forward to after she was unfrozen, especially since she was such a stubborn and outspoken character. It was easy to feel her pain—like a bird trapped in a cage with nowhere to go. This injustice kept me engaged and eager to turn the page.
However, that was basically the extent of my care for the characters. Amy bothered me because she never grew. The Amy at the beginning of the book is the same as the Amy at the end of the book, despite everything that she goes through. Elder, on the other hand, progressed nicely as a character, but was always second guessing himself and was constantly missing opportunities to stick up for Amy. His actions (or lack of, really) made finding romantic chemistry between the two difficult...which was strange because many sources claimed that this book would be the romance of the year. In addition, Elder’s half of the narrative was super verbose, which caused parts of the book to lag. Time spent whining about the difference between fake and real stars could have been time spent solving the Mystery of the Defrosted Ice People, since it took them nearly 350 pages to get anywhere close to discovering the truth. And on that note--
The mystery of “whodunit?” was super easy to guess. Like, it was so easy I was second guessing myself because it was too easy. It makes me wonder why the characters took so long to reach the same conclusions I did, especially since they had all of this cool space tracking technology to use at their disposal. You cannot tell me that a ship has scanners and records for everyone on board and then tell me you have no idea who it is. That doesn't fly with me, even if the door locks are trashed and the wires are ripped out. Get creative! I'm sure that there's something you can do besides posting a guard every few hours to watch the frozen people. If you're that confused, then go into the ship's historical records and watch CSI, for Speed's sake! Gil Grissom could teach you a thing or two about catching a killer.
Ah, I could go on and on, but I think I'm going to stop for now. You guys get the idea. Anyway, I can see this book being a nice gateway read for readers who are not used to the genre, but for those who are sci-fi geeks and desire the other elements of a good book, I’d recommend waiting a while to read this. Like I said, I didn’t think Across the Universe was a bad book per say, but it certainly wasn’t gush-worthy. The setting was great, the history was great, and science behind the fantasy was great, but the characters lacked depth and chemistry. Important factors to consider, especially if you're dealing with a subject as wide as the universe.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Hellooooooooo everybody! It's finally that time...that time to announce the winners of my 100 follower contest! Over forty people participated with a total of 194 entries. Winners were chosen using Random.org (the God of contests), and will be contacted by email in the order that they appear below. If you are a winner, you'll have 48 hours to respond before I choose a new winner. So now...without further adieu...
Title: Museum of Thieves
Author: Lian Tanner
Series: The Keepers #1
Published: Sept. 28, 2010 by Delacorte Books
Pages: 256 (hardcover)
Obtained from: CCBC book sale
Welcome to the tyrannical city of Jewel, where impatience is a sin and boldness is a crime.
Goldie Roth has lived in Jewel all her life. Like every child in the city, she wears a silver guardchain and is forced to obey the dreaded Blessed Guardians. She has never done anything by herself and won’t be allowed out on the streets unchained until Separation Day.
When Separation Day is canceled, Goldie, who has always been both impatient and bold, runs away, risking not only her own life but also the lives of those she has left behind. In the chaos that follows, she is lured to the mysterious Museum of Dunt, where she meets the boy Toadspit and discovers terrible secrets. Only the cunning mind of a thief can understand the museum’s strange, shifting rooms. Fortunately, Goldie has a talent for thieving.
Which is just as well, because the leader of the Blessed Guardians has his own plans for the museum—plans that threaten the lives of everyone Goldie loves. And it will take a daring thief to stop him. . . .
Museum of Thieves is a thrilling tale of destiny and danger, and of a courageous girl who has never been allowed to grow up—until now. –Goodreads
For the first 50 pages or so I was scratching my head, trying to figure out which genre this book belonged to. Was it fantasy? Sci-fi? Steampunk? Dystopian? Well, the answered turned out to be none of the above…and at the same time, all of the above. Museum of Thieves was one of those rare books that spice up the genre by creating its own—and by doing it well. Tanner does a nice job constructing Goldie’s world without screaming “THIS IS HOW THINGS ARE,” at the reader. Instead, we get to figure things out by running away from a tyrannical government, exploring a shape-shifting museum, and chatting with the last brizzle hound—a kind of dog that can change its size depending on the situation. There is wonder on every page of this book, and Goldie was the kind of character you want to see discovering it for herself.
However, even though I LOVED the world that Tanner created, I never became emotionally invested in the book. The supporting cast of characters were flat, and some of Goldie's moments of self-discovery felt forced. We aren’t given much back story on anybody--even when the opportunity presented itself--and as a result, characters who should have come alive in my mind were just names on a page. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I spent more time wondering, "What did [insert name of a character] do to get here?" than paying attention to the life lessons they were trying to teach Goldie (which were a little obvious, I might add).
Despite this, I plan on reading the next book in the series since Museum of Thieves was so different than anything else I've read before. Young fans of fantasy will be able to enjoy this book easily, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something totally original. Plus, the idea of exploring an endless LIVING museum is pure, unfiltered awesome. I mean, come on, think about it: with the world's history at your fingertips, who needs school?
Monday, February 7, 2011
Title: Kevin’s Point of View
Author: Del Shannon
Release Date: Oct. 26, 2010
Pages: 400 (paperback)
Obtained from: Author in exchange for an honest review (Thanks Del!)
To escape the emotional turmoil of his father’s death 12-year-old Kevin Tobin has retreated inside himself, developing his imagination into a dangerous foil and a powerful ally. While he antagonizes everyone with his superhero antics, his ability to escape inside himself becomes critical to his survival after his life is once-again turned upside down a year after his father’s death. When a mysterious package arrives in the mail, Kevin and his best friend are hunted by a ruthless villain who is determined to retrieve the package, which holds the key to his plans for world domination. After enlisting Kevin’s teenage sister and her pizza-delivery boyfriend in a battle for control over time itself, the group escapes into the mountains west of Boulder, Colorado and eventually discover that Kevin’s entire existence is because of the love of someone we never expected. –Goodreads
Kevin's Point of View was a strange book. Yes, a strange--but humorous--book that grabbed my attention right from page one. Shannon did a wonderful job capturing the personality and imagination of a twelve-year-old, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Kevin's mind switch from reality to role-playing mode as he battled the bad guys throughout this story. Watching him escape his troubles by retreating into his imagination took me back to my own days as a twelve-year-old, playing Pretend on the playground with my friends...except that when we did it, our lives weren't in danger. (We liked to pretend that we were Pokémon trainers training to defeat the Elite Four.) It was cool to see that whenever Kevin started to play pretend, he managed to find the courage to face whatever danger lay before him. Eccentric characters are always fun to read about, but they're even better when they use their unusual quirks to accomplish great feats. It's the kind of thing you hope to admire in a person, fictional or not. And boy, it's a good thing that Kevin had a way to handle all of the crazy that was buzzing about him, because Kevin's Point of View was one of those stories that just continued to get more and more outrageous as the plot went on--like each chapter was trying to outdo itself. It was just a roller coaster of crazy event after crazy event, and it was hard to stop myself from yelling things like, "WHY WON'T YOU DIE?!" at the book when the bad guys managed to show up yet again after falling off of a train or getting crushed by an avalanche. It was actually, really, really funny. The only beef I had with Kevin's Point of View was that even though the book begins with Kevin as the main character, towards the end it splits and becomes more about the group of characters that Kevin hooks up with. This wasn't a big deal since each character contributed to the ending in his or her own way, but since I grew so attached to Kevin's imagination in the first half of the book I wanted to see him use more of it to be the hero in the end.
In a way, the style of this story reminded me of The 39 Clues series, both in tone and structure. The sci-fi element in this book is light and fairly easy to understand, even though some sequences of events were confusing. However, Shannon manages to pull it all together at the end with a well-constructed plot twist. The fast-paced, cliffhanger like chapters will encourage even the most reluctant readers to keep reading, and the bizarre events will have everyone laughing about something. All-in-all, Kevin's Point of View was just plain old, good clean fun with something new on every page. A goofy read for all ages!