Mar. 1st, 2009 09:35 am
blue_ant: (reading [books and more books])
[personal profile] blue_ant
24. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
I absolutely loved this book. I thought the plot, writing and characters were quite good. I found it easy to follow, tense and I could not finish it fast enough. I can't wait for the second book, and while I understand that people didn't like the way it ended, I thought it fit well with the rest of the book. I felt, when I finished, that Ness did a good job of explaining just what we needed to know and no more. My only complaint is that it took so long for Todd to learn the truth, but of course we find out why later and it makes pretty decent sense. Ness also did a great job making us feel for Todd. Not only are we settled into his point of view, but sometimes we feel what he feels and I think this adds a lot to the story. I also found the male/female relationships fascinating, from those in Todd's hometown to each of the towns they passed. I'm curious as to where Ness is going with this -- especially since Viola is such a strong character, which is pretty awesome for a book whose main character is already quite strong (no matter what he thinks about himself). I liked Ness' story a lot, and hope the second one lives up to the first one.

25. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
I read this book in under 24 hours, mostly because I could not put it down. Shusterman's story reminds me, in many ways, of a couple other books (YA and adult), but that doesn't detract from Unwind. And this is because it's also a unique world view. The idea is as fascinating as it is gruesome, and Shusterman does an exceptional job drawing us into the story. Including out three main characters (Conner, Levi and Risa), we get glimpses of people on both dies of the unwinding process. Many times, these people don't have names, but often they do -- even if we're only around them for a chapter or two. Shusterman weaves a dramatic tale that never falters, not even at the end of the book. While many fantasy books have trouble concluding, Unwind is not one of them. The characters are strong -- and not just because of Shusterman's writing. It's clear that Shusterman cares about them and by the end of the book, so do we. I thoroughly enjoy Unwind and I think it'll find a home with fans of Skinned, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Scott Westerfeld books and other recent sf YA books.

26. A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
The book, a retelling of the well-known Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, was much darker than I expected. And though it dragged in places (and took me twice as long to read as other fantasy YA), the ending was satisfying. And even though I knew how the original fairy tale ended, it didn't make the tension in Bunce's novel any less stressful. Like so many good fantasy books I've read recently, Bunce creates an extremely strong female character who must fight for the things and people she loves. A Curse as Dark as Gold is an interesting and engaging look at an old, familiar tale.

26 / 100 words. 26% done!


Feb. 26th, 2009 08:43 pm
blue_ant: (travis [reading])
[personal profile] blue_ant
22. Evermore by Alyson Noël
In many ways, this is the book that Twilight could have been, if someone else had written it. Not everything matches up -- nor should it. Ever, our heroine, is a former cheerleader and popular girl, forced to move in with her aunt after a tragic car accident. She's a strong female character, she questions her and other people's motivations, actions and consequences. She sticks up for herself and doesn't take a lot of bullshit. But of course, she has problems, ever since the accident, she's psychic. Noel does an extremely good job of describing just how hard live can be for Ever. But at the same time, this book is almost witty and contains several amusing moments. It's not the best book I've ever read and I'm not knocking down walls to get to the sequel, but it was entertaining and should I come across the second book, I'll definitely read it. Also, this is not a vampire novel, nor should it be. It's fun fantasy, with an interesting twist near the end.

23. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
Anna Godbersen's novel is a nice, fluffy read about a less than fluffy subject -- at least in parts. The Luxe gives us a look into the luxurious life of the rich in 1899 New York City. In some ways, it reminds me of Melissa De la Cruz's Blue Bloods series, except without the vampirism. Instead, Godbersen focuses on the lives and loves of several members of New York's high society, and one of the serving girls. While the book is a fun read, someones it's no more than just Gossip Girls in 1899. But, of course, none of that matters because the story is clever, amusing and quite fun. I look forward to reading the next book.

23 / 100 words. 23% done!


Feb. 26th, 2009 08:38 pm
blue_ant: (carli [reading])
[personal profile] blue_ant
19. The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran by Hooman Majd
Think about everything you know about Iran, and then forget it all. Majd gives us a unique insight into the life, religion and politics in Iran. An Iranian himself and grandson of a well-known Ayatollah, Majd is given unprecedented access to a country that remains a mystery to most Americans. The Ayatollah Begs to Differ is a journey in two separate worlds: a public world where people don't often speak freely or dress as they wish and the private life, a world behind walls where almost anything goes. It is the juxtaposition of these two worlds that Majd explores, showing us the differences between them -- as well as the differences and similarities between our own cultures. Filled with discussions on both present day Iran (the book was published in 2008) and they history of Iran (once known only as Persia to Westerners), Majd takes care to explain, hold up and dispel many of our (Western) myths about the country.

The book is more than just a book about Iran. In some ways, this is a book about travel. Majd, a well-traveled writer, discusses his travel within the country as well as a few outside (he lives mostly in the United States). But it is also a political book. Majd never shies away from addressing conflicts or issues that we (Westerns) feel we know well. He discusses Bush's role in Iranian culture, the nuclear arms issue, terrorism, of course Iraq and Palestine. Of course, the book is also a study on religion, because no book about Iran could be written without talking about Islam. And last, this book, in many ways reminding me of Rob Gifford's book, China Road, is also a study about the people of Iran. Individuals as well as the many different groups that make up the country.

Written in first person, Majd's book is an excellent and engaging read. Recommended for anyone with even a casual interest in Iran.

20. Football Against the Enemy by Simon Kuper
I'd been told that I'd like this book. In actuality, I'd been told I'd like the 2003 edition of this book. Sadly (or maybe it was fortunate), the only edition I was able to get (from Michigan State University, of all places) was the original 1994 edition. My friend was right, I absolutely loved this book. Kuper's writing is exceptional, the style he uses is exactly what I look for when I read non-fiction. Football Against the Enemy is not just a book about sport. Sure, it's a book about football, but it's also about everything in between. It's a travel book about what football means to the world. There are lots of these books out there who do a decent job explaining football and the world. But what Kuper does best is turn it into a travel book. This is not one of those Fodor's guides, nor is it a third person look at sports through the lens of an outsider. Kuper starts as an outsider almost everywhere he goes and somehow always ends up an insider. He talks with fans (of course), be they politicians or just average citizens of the world. But Kuper doesn't stop there, he talks to players, former players, managers, former managers, owners, and everyone in between. This is the story of football, with more than little history. Eventually I'll read the updated edition, but for me, the 1994 version was a brilliant read.

21. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I don't usually go in for the whole fantasy thing, but there was something about Cashore's book that caught me. Not just the whole idea of Grace (being born with a special skill), but also the fact that the main character, Katsa, is an extremely strong female character. She holds her own many times and I enjoy how Cashmore explores Katsa's attempts to deal with the life she's forced to live and the world she must live in. There were several surprises, some them more dramatic than others, but Cashmore built them up subtly, thus allowing us to feel the same sort of surprise that Katsa herself feels. The ending was a bit of a surprise, but I was quite pleased with Cashmore's choices. I look forward to more of Cashmore's book, regardless of whether this is the first in a series or just a one-off.

21 / 100 words. 21% done!


Feb. 26th, 2009 08:34 pm
blue_ant: (reading [books and more books])
[personal profile] blue_ant
16. Fathom by Cherie Priest
I picked up this book because I really enjoyed Priest's Eden Moore series. That also meant I hadn't read anything about it -- including reviews or the inside cover summary. So, it was much to my surprise when I realized this book wasn't the horror story/ghost story that I had expected. Instead, it was something rather different and quite awesome. Priest tells us one story from multiple points of view. While in other books this might be tedious, it was not for Fathom. Instead, we learn to love the different characters, even when they do things we don't understand/agree with. I think this was what made the story so good. Instead of just focusing on a third person omniscient narrator or a single, first person point of view, we got variations on both of those. What Priest created was a stunning story set in a world not unlike our own, while at the same time, altogether different. She draws on unknown (including, though not necessarily central to the plot, ghosts) as main characters who are in a battle to save the human race. Priest does not shy away from heartache, violence and death, and that is one of the things that makes this book so good.

17. Wanted by Mark Millar
I found this to be an unrealistic and easy, if dark and violence, graphic novel. That's not to say I didn't like it -- because I did. I just happened to have the luxury of seeing the movie version first. Luckily for everyone involved, the movie version is unlike the graphic novel in all but name and characters (and even then it's not quite that similar). The plots are sort of vaguely similar at the beginning and parts of the ending, but otherwise, the graphic novel takes a much darker twist. Which is good, because if this had been the movie? I would have hated it. That being said, I quite liked the book. It's a dark tale, following the life of our anti-hero (or hero, depending on how you want to look at it), Wesley Gibson. The story is high on violence, the art is beautiful (if occasionally kind of gross) and while the writing isn't as eloquent as, say, something Neil Gaiman wrote, it doesn't matter. It was a highly enjoyable graphic novel, but not for people who are expecting it to be exactly like the movie.

18. Angel by Cliff McNish
I don't know what I was expecting when I picked up this book, but I definitely didn't except it to be as, well, bad. The writing wasn't all that bad and I finished the book out of curiosity, and in hopes that it would improve -- it just didn't. Angel played far too much on clichés -- those associated with high school, depressed kids, and angels. There was no real resolution, the story was mostly about running away (and later toward) angels and other people. I found the storyline with Freya's brother to be the more interesting one, but even the events of his life got tedious. In the end, McNish ties everything up in a neat package with a bow on top -- and I don't approve. I think that with a better ending, perhaps this would have been a better book.

18 / 100 words. 18% done!


Feb. 10th, 2009 09:40 am
blue_ant: (ianto [reading])
[personal profile] blue_ant
13. Carry On, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse (audio book)
Good, though I wish I'd been able to listen to this one first since a good portion of the stories are on My Man Jeeves, which I'd already heard. I also didn't like the reader as much, but it was still fun -- the stories are amusing and I like Jeeves and Wooster more and more. I will definitely be listening to more of these audio books.

14. Metropolis by Osamu Tezuka
This is one of those classic graphic novels that I didn't know about until someone recommended the anime version. While the movie is different than the graphic novel, both are enjoyable. What I liked about the graphic novel was that it wasn't as serious -- as in there was humor that was not quite in the movie. Tezuka's writing and illustrations are quite clever and easy to follow, as is the storyline. While the ending is tragic (just like the film) the journey to that ending is what matters most. I found the story to be, like the movie, touching in unexpected ways.

15. The Inner Circle by Mari Jungstedt
The third book in Jungstedt's series set on the island of Gotland. A horse is found murdered, then later a young woman -- are the two connected? And if so, how? These, and others, are the questions that Inspector Anders Knutas must answer. Jungstedt's novel is a gripping mystery -- it took me all of three days to read it. The plot is strong, and though we're given hints and insight into the murders and murderer, then signs only become clear when Jungstedt wants them to. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I have her others. I can't wait for the rest to be translated into English.

15 / 100 words. 15% done!


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