29 August 2011

Review: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray

I want to give a review of a book that's been out for about seven years and one that I had never heard of (P.S. I usually like to pretend I've heard of everything). I am aware of who the author Chris Wooding is, but I was not familiar at all with his book The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray until a co-worker placed it into my hands and told me I needed to read it. So I read it, and now I want to share it with you.

Wooding introduces us to an alternative Victorian-like London where seventeen-year-old Thaniel Fox lives and works as a wych-hunter, a hunter of the daemonic wych-kin. It's when Thaniel meets Alaizabel Cray that his entire world changes. It happens that an evil occult is beginning to take over London, and Thaniel's new companion may be at the center of it.

The prose in this book is incredible. It reads at such a smooth pace and the details, particularly the action scenes, are so descriptive it's like watching a movie. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray is a young adult Gothic thriller at its best. Wooding's London streets are haunted by wych-kin, wolves, thieves, and a very disturbing serial killer named Stitch-Face. The novel, itself, is intelligent, shocking, creepy, dark, and will keep you turning the pages until you've reached the last; I didn't want it to end. Wooding has an amazing imagination and that imagination has made the book an intensely suspenseful read; something to keep you up at night.

28 August 2011

I am out of control.

Look what I get to read!! Now my store needs a galley of The Pledge by Kimberly Derting and my life will be perfect. Perfect, I tell you. *crosses fingers* 
Hi, I'm the sequel to Delirium and I am sure to be awesome. 
P.S. When I get excited, I tend to become a five year old. My apologies.

25 August 2011

Review: Cleopatra's Moon

First, I would like to point out that, so far, the book reviews I've written have been fairly positive. It just so happens I've been on a good luck streak of great books recently and Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter has not ruined my luck. This book is fantastic.

I've always been fascinated by ancient history and originally majored in it at college...until I realized I would eventually have to do my own research and write my own papers (can you believe that? shocking). I figured out I prefer to read others' books on the subject, so hear I am. It's rare to find a YA fiction book set in ancient Rome and Egypt so I was excited when a co-worker told me about Cleopatra's Moon. The best words I can give this book are "beautiful" and "epic."

To make it clear for those not familiar with the book, it follows Cleopatra's daughter Cleopatra VIII Selene, not Cleopatra VII who we're all familiar with. I think it's rather difficult to write a historical fiction novel that doesn't feel a little dry at times, but that's not the case with this book. Shecter made these famous historical characters come to life. Congratulations Vicky! You win my smiles. Even though I knew most of what was going to happen (history buff, I am), I couldn't put the book down. I really felt for Cleopatra Selene; when she cried, I cried. It's been a while since a book has made me cry and I got teary eyed twice. Another example of the realism, I've always had an intense love for Roman history and, for the first time, Shecter made me hate them. What a society of bastards. I already knew this, but it was interesting to see them from another point of view.

This book is a must read for historical fiction fans, though I would say for older teens than younger. It does contain sensuality, but there is so much substance and detail that I feel it would go over the heads of the younger audience. This is definitely a book adults will enjoy, if not more so than the the YA audience.

23 August 2011

Review: The Demon Trapper's Daughter

I had started The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver earlier this year, but had to put it down due to being behind on textbook reading and paper writing (why did I decide to go back to college, again?). Then it became hidden on my bookshelf until my Amazon wishlist reminded me that the second in the series was coming out on August 30. Um, that's next week! And before I even start the review, the fact that I put book two on my wishlist without barely starting the first should say something.

To give a quick background, it's the year 2018 in Atlanta and demons have been wreaking havoc on the world. Luckily, Atlanta has Paul Blackthorne and the local Demon Trappers Guild to take of things. That is, until tragedy strikes leaving Riley Blackthorne, an apprentice demon trapper and daughter of Paul, to pick up and solve the pieces.

I have a thing for smart-mouthed heroines who can kick ass and Riley doesn't disappoint. What I also love about Riley is that she may be tough, but she acts seventeen. Riley cries when she's supposed to, she worries about what others think, she can pout, she cares about her appearance, and can be a little immature at times. You know why? Because Riley is only seventeen! The idea of the incredibly strong seventeen-year-old female who can save the world one-handed is becoming an overly abused characterization in the YA world. Riley still has emotions, but I never thought for once she would ever stray from her goal because of them. In fact, it's these emotions, sometimes selfish ones, that push her forward.

The Demon Trapper's Daughter has a fantastically dark atmosphere, which I always love in a book. It made me laugh, has great action scenes, great characters, quick dialogue, and provides a promising set-up to the next installment in the series. I can't wait until next Tuesday and I won't forget to finish this one, even though classes start again on Monday. Screw you English and math courses, you've got nothing on Jana Oliver.

21 August 2011

Review: The Scorpio Races

I'm going to be straight with you and say I'm not the biggest fan of Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver trilogy. I think it's good, I can see where the appeal comes from and I still hand-sell the books at the bookstore, but I guess the series just isn't for me. I do like her fairy series, though...anyway:

You: But Angie, why are you telling me this? Does this have a point? Did you not like The Scorpio Races?

Hells yeah I liked The Scorpio Races! I loved The Scorpio Races. Late at night and during lunch time, I may even think about having its babies. My point is: if you just so happen to not be into the Shiver series, please PLEASE don't consider not buying this book when it comes out. Sometimes, if a person does not like a book, he/she tends to not pick up others by the same author and I don't want this to be you. I want as many people to read The Scorpio Races as possible. I'm not going to write a synopsis because you can find one anywhere (like here) and I just want to talk about the book.

Who knew a book with carnivorous water horses could be so awesome? I love the fact that she made a myth into a story that seems so real and I was only able to put it down when I was forced to go to work. Her characters are well built with distinct personalities; when I hated a character, I hated a character and when I loved a character, I loved a character (welcome Sean Kendrick to my collection of literary crushes). There's an author's note from Maggie where she mentions that the subjects of the story aren't the water horses at all and I agree. This book is about the two wonderfully drawn out main characters and the way these horses affect their lives. It's heartbreaking, humorous, frustrating, anxiety-making, etc. Maggie will make you feel every emotion imaginable, unless you don't have a heart, but that would just mean you're dead, right? And dead people can't read.

I didn't mean for this review to become a post of "squee" and for that I apologize. I guess I just don't have any other way to express my love right now. Check out the book when it's released; I promise it will be worth it.

18 August 2011

Review: Cryer's Cross

Who knew a book involving a haunted school desk could be mildly interesting? Was I aware it involved paranormal furniture? Nope, and if I knew, I don't think I would have picked it up. Surprisingly, I'm still glad I did.

I'm a fan of Lisa McMann's Wake trilogy, so when I found out a release of her's passed me by, I had to read it right away. To give a quick synopsis, Cryer's Cross is about a small rural town that begins to have disappearances involving a couple of teenagers. One of those teens happens to be Kendall's sort-of-boyfriend and soon, Kendall begins to hear his voice...through his desk...which Tiffany, the first one gone missing, used to sit at.

The book achieved its goal of being creepy. The voices and the mysterious writing on the desk pulled me in and I was excited to see where it was going. And then it got there. And then I wasn't so excited anymore. I felt like there was so much build up to something that was solved within the last ten pages of the book. Also, McMann makes it clear from the beginning that Kendall suffers from OCD. I thought this was a great character trait (and an important part of the book), but she didn't have to talk about how she was OCD on every page. I got it. Kendall has a disorder. The dialogue could also be a bit awkward and choppy at times, but the book as a whole is still worth a read and it's a really quick read. It only took me two and a half hours. Definitely something to get at the library.

15 August 2011

Review: The Enemy

Someone recently told me that zombies have been played out. He said that they're no longer interesting. To him I say, screw that crap. Zombies are awesome and will always be awesome! I picked up The Enemy by Charlie Higson for this exact reason (and a coworker recommended it to me, but I'll just say it was all my idea).

The book takes place in a near future where the adult population has either died or become mindless zombie-like "people" after becoming infected with a disease that has spread throughout the world. Everyone sixteen and under are left to fend for themselves, as well as defend, against the new threat of killer adults. Higson makes a story of zombies his own.

I haven't read a young adult novel in a while with such vividly real life characters. I hated some of them, I wanted to punch a few in the face, I also liked some, and I may or may not have wanted to make out with one of them. Higson is extremely skilled in writing action scenes and if you've read his Young Bond series, you'll know what I'm talking about. If not, just know that the action in this book is intense and can also be quite gory. I will admit that I got bored around the middle of the book. I think I had reached a point where the story had slowed down after so much suspense, but I may have just been having an anxiety hangover. I'm glad I pressed on, because holy crap...

I've been recommending this book at my store and am going to pick up his newest book in the series The Dead.

11 August 2011

Review: Human.4

I picked up Human.4 not quite knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. The story kept me engaged and before I knew it, I finished the book in a few hours (it's short). It was also an added treat to find out the book is set in England. You may as well know now, I am an anglophile. Anyway...

It's rare that a book comes out for young adults that truly represents the sci-fi genre. No vampires, fairies, or amazonian girls skilled in weaponry, etc. Just science fiction. The oldest thing you'll find in this book is a set of transcribed tapes that Kyle Straker recorded telling his horrifying story. The narrative is filled with the perfect amount of tension and the side notes in the story add the humor, especially if you're a sci-fi geek. Stargate SG-1 reference anyone?

One complaint I have is that it was too short. I wanted to know more about the new world and about the characters and just...how? You'll understand the "how" question after you read the book. BUT I realize that the shortness of the book is also a positive. There is no filler, every scene is important, and everything happens for a reason. If it was any longer, the tension that is the book would start to lag. My last complaint is that no matter how humorous the side notes are, it distracted me from the story a few times. Especially when it shows up in the middle of a chapter. Other than those things, the book was thoroughly entertaining.

What I learned: don't ever volunteer to be hypnotized and that I should worry about the progression of technology.

Good luck to my children's children's children, and so on. I fear for you.

09 August 2011

Review: Blood Red Road

This book is perfect. PERFECT. One of my favorite of the year, so far. With so many mass-produced dystopian novels being released, it's nice to find a diamond in a pile of crap.

Saba lives in a desolate wasteland with her loony father, twin brother Lugh, and younger sister Emmi. Her whole life, Saba has happily followed in Lugh's shadow until one day, during a dust storm, men on horses show up and kidnap Lugh. Saba decides she has to leave the only home she's ever known to rescue her brother. Out in the world, she discovers a violent people and landscape, a kick-ass group of women, a kick-ass love interest named Jack, and most importantly, how kick-ass she can be on her own.

Saba is one of the strongest female characters in YA fiction right now and I enjoyed watching her grow into her own person throughout the story. I would compare her to Katniss from The Hunger Games series, but Saba would think that's an insult since Katniss tended to be kinda whiny and probably would have died during the first half of this book. I loved the world that Moira Young built, showing a very real and very bleak future for humanity. There's a popular complaint among readers of the book that the prose is too frustrating to read. On the contrary, I found it refreshingly different. The book is written in Saba's dialect and with no quotations around the dialogue. It did take some getting used to, but after a few pages I didn't even notice it anymore and began to enjoy it. I don't know how much closer to Saba you can get than reading the story directly through her. I loved this book and cannot wait for the next one in the Dustland series!

04 August 2011

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Laini Taylor, the author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, creates a world with its own impressive mythology. A dark mythology. And I loved it. It's not often I am in awe of a book. I can like a book or love a book, but "in awe" means it's something special.

Karou, an art student in Prague, feels a bit empty inside. Literally. She's a bit different than the average teenage girl: her hair is naturally blue, she has the ability to speak many different languages (most you've never heard of), and her adoptive family are chimaera. You're now saying to yourself "what??" and I'm saying "it's true." While mysterious black handprints are appearing on doors all over the world, Karou is also trying to solve the mystery of who she really is. Enter a mysterious hot angel boy. Enter a mysterious hot angel boy who may have the secret to Karou's past. Don't you just love supernatural romance?

This book has creative complex characters, humor, a star-crossed love of sexiness, and lots of secrets. I think I can say with certainty, this is going to be an exciting start to a new series. Loved it.

Buy it. Read it.