Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour.

 Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall. 

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next? 

Morris Award—finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.

The Disenchantments comes out February 16, 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yule Ball 2011

On December 18, Anna and I and our fellow librarian friend Rachel (who we hope will soon be doing some guest blogging) went to the 7th annual Yule Ball in Cambridge.  Anna and I went last year and it was AMAZING.  As in magical and fabulous and hard to describe.  If you're new, the Yule Ball is a Harry Potter wizard wrock concert.  You are so missing out if you've never listened to wizard wrock.  You are missing out on the awesome.

It was sad, however, because Draco and the Malfoys, who are my very favorites, were playing their last concert ever.  Ever!  I don't know why they are leaving the Harry Potter music scene, although I understand that people need to move on at some point.  But it's too bad for us, as their songs are a delight.  Draco and the Malfoys didn't go on until later though.  Let's start at the beginning.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Giveaway: Audio Book of Cinder by Marissa Meyer

We have an exciting giveaway for you!  Thanks to the kind folks at Macmillan Audio, we have the audio book of Cinder by Marissa Meyer for you! I reviewed Cinder a few weeks ago, and it was a lot of fun.  Listen to the first six minutes of the audio book.

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

Cinder will be coming out January 3, 2012.

Giveaway ends January 1 and is limited to the U.S. only.

This giveaway is now closed.

Around the World by Matt Phelan

In 1873, Jules Verne wrote Around the World in Eighty Days, and exciting adventure of a man racing against time.  The book inspired real life adventures to circumnavigate the world.  In this graphic novel, the stories of three individuals at the end of the nineteenth century are told, who all went around the world in very different ways.

The first story is of Thomas Stevens who from 1884 to 1886 rode around the world on a bicycle (naturally taking a boat at the water bits).  And not the bicycle you're probably picturing.  One of the ones with the gigantic front wheel and a tiny back wheel.

The second story is Nellie Bly's, a female reporter for the New York World who set out in 1889 to beat the Jules Verne hero and go around the world in 74 days.

The final story is about Joshua Slocum, a mariner.  In 1895 he set out in a small boat to sail around the world, not returning until 1898.

This was a lovely graphic novel.  The illustrative style is similar throughout the book, but the color scheme is different for each story.  Stevens' story is in blues and grays, Bly's story is more colorful and vibrant with yellows and blues, and Slocum's is the most subdued in dark blue, gray and brown.

I know the story of Nellie Bly, but I'd never heard of Thomas Stevens or Joshua Slocum before, and it was fascinating reading about them.  Slocum's story and the least words, and was very sad.  It was about his trip around the world in his little boat, but it was really about his sadness and loneliness about the loss of his beloved first wife.  Although he's remarried, he clearly still loves her a misses her.

Nellie Bly came off as a total jerk in her story.  It might be based on fact.  She probably had to be very assertive and not let other people push her around.  She was doing things that were unheard of for women.  She's glaring or squinting angrily in most of her illustrations.  And saying rude things.  If it's based on fact, then fine, otherwise, why make her look so unpleasant?

Definitely a very pretty as well as informational graphic novel.  Recommended!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Rose Edelstein develops the ability to taste the emotion in food on the eve of her ninth birthday.  The first thing she realizes is that her mother is incredibly sad and empty.

I strongly disliked this.  If I hadn't been listening to it on audio, I wouldn't have finished it.  The audio itself I wasn't that great.  It was read by Aimee Bender herself, and she had a very flat and uninspiring reading voice.  Rather like the book itself, which I'm sure was intentional.

I do not like books that aren't about anything.  Or rather, are about "life."  I just don't care.  I don't want to read about someone's day-to-day life, for the same reason I rarely use my Twitter account and hardly ever update my Facebook status.  I want to read a story with a point and a plot.  I don't want to read someone's kind of pointless inner musings.  I know some people like books like that a lot.  I know books like that are often highly praised and thought of as "literary."  To that I say "whatever."  You can keep your literary.  It doesn't change that fact your book wasn't about anything.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers.

Jocelyn's twin brother Jack was the only family she had growing up in a world of foster homes-and now he's dead, and she has nothing. Then she gets a cryptic letter from "Jason December"-the code name her brother used to use when they were children at Seale House, a terrifying foster home that they believed had dark powers. Only one other person knows about Jason December: Noah, Jocelyn's childhood crush and their only real friend among the troubled children at Seale House.

But when Jocelyn returns to Seale House and the city where she last saw Noah, she gets more than she bargained for. Turns out the house's powers weren't just a figment of a childish imagination. And someone is following Jocelyn. Is Jack still alive? And if he is, what kind of trouble is he in? The answer is revealed in a shocking twist that turns this story on its head and will send readers straight back to page 1 to read the book in a whole new light.

The Vanishing Game comes out February 14, 2012.


I'm not sure if I have mentioned that I am a HUGE Lord of the Rings nerd. My dad read them to me when I was about ten and I've read them three other times since. I love the books and loved the movies, and I have been super psyched about The Hobbit movie coming out since 2009. So I have to share this with all of you, I know it's pretty hard core fantasy, but technically Tolkien intended it for children so it's still blog appropriate right?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

For thousands of years in the Range, the same million souls have been born over and over again in different bodies.  Until Ana.  Ana is new, and no one knows why she exists, or what happened to Ciana, the soul that was never reborn.  Ana has grown up believing she has no soul at all, and is therefore incapable of human emotions, like love.  Ana travels to the main city of Heart to try and discover why she was born, and finds the citizens suspicious of her very existence.  Ana finds help in Sam, who struggles with his own feelings: can he love someone who might only live once?

I loved this so much.  And I wasn't expecting to.  It took me totally by surprise.  The world that Jodi Meadows has created was absolutely fascinating.  And so many different aspects of the world were explored.  In this world, the same people have been born over and over again for thousands of years, and they remember their past lives.  Therefore there are people in teenager and child bodies but that act like adults (but have to deal with the limitations of their bodies).  You could be born to someone that in a past life was your sibling, or friend or a lover.  It was just so weird and interesting to think about how it all worked.

Ana is completely overwhelmed by this.  She has been kept in isolation, and for her, everything is new.  She's fascinated and excited about all the new things she experiences, while Sam watches on in amusement.  He hasn't really experienced anything new in thousands of years.  Ana trying to process how everything worked, how everyone knew everyone else and how you could be male in one life and female in another pretty much mirrored how I was trying to process it.  It's such a foreign concept it's hard to wrap your head around.  A lot of thought had to be put into making this world make sense, and I really appreciate that.

I thought Ana and Sam's relationship was lovely.  Sam is fascinated by Ana and does not blame her, like so many others, for Ciana disappearing.  He seems attracted to her, but doesn't act on it.  While Ana and Sam appear the same age, he's got thousands of years on her.  At one point, Ana goes to the library and looks at pictures of Sam in past lives.  She sees him old and young, male and female, in all sorts of different bodies.  It's hard for her, although she realizes that no matter what he looks like, she can also pick out Sam in the picture.  There relationship grows slowly, as Ana learns to trust Sam, and Sam realizes that Ana is someone he can confide his fears in.

I still have so many questions though!  I'm actually glad for once to see the start of a series because I really want to see where it's going to go.  By the end, we've learned some very dramatic things about Ana's origins, but it's also raised lots of other questions.  I also want to know more about what's outside of the Range.  Are there other people out there they just don't have any contact with?  What's up with the dragons and the sylph (some kind of strange smoke like creature that kills by burning)?  Why do they seem to be after the temple in the middle of Heart, that doesn't have any doors (except for sometimes)?  Questions!  When does the next one come out?  I hope really soon.

I highly recommend this.  Incarnate comes out January 31, 2012.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

John Green is coming!

John Green will soon begin his 2012 tour for his new book The Fault in Our Stars and guess where he's starting?  AT MY SCHOOL!  Squee!  So exciting!  And it's already sold out.  It's crazy.  John Green has been to my school before, just after Paper Towns came out.  However, he was not a HUGE DEAL yet.  Now he is a total HUGE DEAL, so much so that he can sell out fairly large venues like a rock star.  Yay John Green!  Something about you just makes me want to tousle your hair and tell you you're adorable.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Gratuity "Tip" Tucci is writing a five-paged paper on the true meaning of Smekday, the day the aliens invaded Earth.  Tip has an interesting perspective, although no one else knows it.  With her cat named Pig, Tip begins her journey to find her mother who was taken by the aliens and winds up teaming up with a rogue Boov named J.Lo.  When Earth is reconquered by another alien race, the Gorg, who are much bigger and scarier than the Boov, Tip is determined to not only find her mother but get all these aliens off her planet for good.

I listened to this on audio book, which I'm not going to recommend.  The audio book itself wasn't bad, although the voice that was being done for the aliens got kind of annoying after a while.  When you listen to it, you miss out on visual elements.  Tip has an old Polaroid camera she's taking pictures with through their travels, and J.Lo draws comics to explain things about his background and the Gorg.  When I figured out I was missing something, I went and found the book and looked at all the pictures.  You do really miss out if you don't have that piece.

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Agency: The Traitor and the Tunnel  by Y.S. Lee

Get steeped in suspense, romance, and high Victorian intrigue as Mary goes undercover at Buckingham Palace - and learns a startling secret at the Tower of London.

Queen Victoria has a little problem: there's a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency puts quickwitted Mary Quinn on the case, where she must pose as a domestic while fending off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales. But when the prince witnesses the murder of one of his friends in an opium den, the potential for scandal looms large. And Mary faces an even more unsettling possibility: the accused killer, a Chinese sailor imprisoned in the Tower of London, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, engineer James Easton, Mary's onetime paramour, is at work shoring up the sewers beneath the palace, where an unexpected tunnel seems to be very much in use. Can Mary and James trust each other (and put their simmering feelings aside) long enough to solve the mystery and protect the Royal Family? Hoist on your waders for Mary's most personal case yet, where the stakes couldn't be higher - and she has everything to lose
. (Summary from Goodreads)

This is the third books in a historical mystery series that I've really enjoyed. Can't wait to see where it goes! The Traitor and the Tunnel comes out Feb. 28, 2011.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Ryan Gosling loves the library.  And you.

SLJ's Best Books of 2011.

Did you miss it?  Because I sure did.  The Blogger/Publisher kerfuffle.   I completely understand publishers wanting to save money by printing less books and saving on shipping when they might not get a review out of it.  However, bloggers (for the most part) do not work for the publisher.  It's a hobby, and we have real, full-time jobs.  Sometimes we don't get to stuff, and sometimes we choose not to review something, and sometimes it takes us a long time to get around to reading something.  We are not on your payroll.  From the LA Times.

Neil Gaiman talks to Shaun Tan.  I would listen to Neil Gaiman talk about anything.  From The Guardian.

I get to use "kerfuffle" multiple times in a single post!  Leila Roy of Bookshelves of Doom summarizes 2011's biggest YA lit kerfuffles.  From Kirkus.

So, apparently 1 in 3 children in the UK don't own a book.  That makes me sad.  From BBC.

2011 Bad Sex Award.  From CBC News.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thirst (Ava Delaney #1) by Claire Farrell

Ava Delaney doesn't belong, shouldn't exist. Infected at birth with vampire poison she is not entirely human, not 100% vampire. She has lived by herself for the past seven years after running away from her zealot grandmother at the age of eighteen. Fighting her growing urge to drink blood and trying to stay hidden from the local vampire clans becomes more difficult after saving a young man from a vampire. Carl becomes enslaved and he mindlessly pressures Ava to drink from him. In desperation Ava reaches out for help, and unfortunately gets Peter Brannigan. Peter hates all vampires after they killed his family, but he also happens to have a lot of underworld connections and have a general knowledge of vampire culture. As they work together to free Carl, Ava finds herself in the middle of a vampire turf war, and of course is the only one to be able to stop the stalemate.

First off I would just like to say that I had assumed this entire time, just until about twenty minutes ago when I reread the first chapter, that Ava was like eighteen. Not to be a total ditz about it, but doesn't this generally sound like something straight out of a young adult book? I'm not saying that it isn't inclusive for a young adult audience, the violence is pretty low key and it's not uber sexy, but you would think that with a twenty-five year old protagonist that it would be a bit grittier than it was. The storyline, violence, and sexuality were all pretty PG-13. Practically PG if you compare it to some other things. I guess my gripe is either amp up the gritty or make her younger...... which isn't really possible since this book is already published.

Otherwise, pretty decent. There isn't a ton of depth to the story, perhaps that might come into play more as the series progresses? The characters are solid, though not quite three-dimensional. Ms. Farrell has some very interesting elements to work with, such as Carl and Ava's relationship post-enslavement, Peter's background, Ava's employment by Daimhin, and so on and so forth.

This e-book wasn't quite novel length, more novelette, so I'm trying to give it the benefit of the doubt that it could've been more thorough if given greater length. Makes sense right? Right? It also could help that I got this for free..... just sayin'. Worth the free read, I will probably check out the sequel and then make a final decision on the series.

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

In 1888 in Russia Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, is trapped in a world of balls and marriage.  Katerina wishes to be a doctor, although Russian women are not allowed in the medical schools.  Katerina is also hiding a terrible secret: she can raise the dead.  Katerina is careful never to tell anyone about her curse, but her secret gets out and now the rival families of the Dark and Light courts are after her power.

My knowledge of Russian history is minimal.  It mostly revolves around Jewish history and not what the aristocracy was up to.  But since I do know that the Russian Revolution was in 1917, whenever the tsarevitch (the heir to the throne) was mentioned I would think, "Oh Nicky, if only you knew what was coming."  Most of the book was spent with Katerina going to balls.  No wonder the regular Russian people revolted.  I had a hard time keeping straight all the secondary characters.  I did appreciate the explanation of Russian last names at the beginning of the book, which was helpful.  Even so, with so many characters having the same name or similar names, and there were just so many of them, I lost track of who was who early on.  I would have loved to have a family tree or something.  There were just so many damn royals!  And they're all related to each other.
When Katerina talked about the books other women liked with scorn, saying, "All romances ended exactly the same way: a girl realized the surly boy she had hated all along was the only person in the universe who could completely her soul.  I did not believe for a minute that my soul could be completed by some surly boy," I had such high hopes for her.  But nope.  The surly boy that had annoyed her all along, who was constantly telling her she was evil was in fact madly in love with her and she with him.  Sigh.  Oh well.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

Sonia Nadhamuni's father has just lost his job, and that means she can't go to her beloved private school with her best friend any more.  For the first time, Sonia is entering public, and for the first time is dealing with questions about what color she is.  Sonia struggles to figure out where she fits in, being half Indian and Jewish but not religious.  As Sonia's father sinks into depression, Sonia spends more and more time out of the house and with her cool new friend Kate.  Sometimes things just don't feel right to Sonia, but she not sure how to fix it.

Sonia is coming from a "hippy" school.  Very integrated, very creative and free-flowing - the teachers go by their first names, there are no grades, there's lots of doing and experiencing things.  When Sonia enters public school, she is unsurprisingly shocked at what she has to deal with that she never had to deal with before.  No one had ever asked her if she was Black before, and it wasn't something she had ever thought about.  Suddenly, Sonia is questioning who she is.  Besides being half Indian, her mother is Jewish, and although the family isn't religious, Sonia has always thought of herself as half Indian and half Jewish.  Now she has to really think about what that means. 

Sonia gets pulled between two groups at school.  The first is a popular crowd.  The only girl Sonia really likes is Kate, the leader, who genuinely seems to like her too, but doesn't stand up for her when the other girls say mean things.  Sonia also is friends with one of the few Black students at her school, Alisha, who likes to write.  Sonia ends up pushing Alisha away in favor of spending time with Kate, who has cool parents and pretty clothes.  I liked that Sonia wasn't hanging out with the popular crowd just to be popular.  Kate really did seem like a nice person, and the two girls had a lot of fun together.  Kate was very encouraging of Sonia when they all tried out for cheerleading together.  Ultimately though, Kate wasn't a true friend.  A true friend wouldn't let other "friends" treat you badly, which Sonia eventually realizes.
Sonia's father's depression was a very interesting aspect of the story.  We have Sonia's coming-of-age story, and her identity struggles, but separate from that we have her struggle to understand what's happening to her father.  As her father falls deeper into depression, Sonia watches her father have a hard time getting out of bed, and experiences his sudden anger and sadness.  After he gets another job, Sonia assumes that everything will be back the way it was before, but then her father disappears.  It story doesn't get too in-depth on the topic of depression, but I thought that it was handled very well for a middle-grade book.  Depression is described as a sickness (which it is), and Sonia comes to understand that it doesn't just go away all at once.  It's something that her father constantly has to work on, and that he needs help with.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl comes out January 10, 2012.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder can't remember anything before the accident that caused her to become a cyborg at age 11.  Five years later, an incurable plague is sweeping through all of the Eastern Commonwealth.  Cyborgs are being drafted to test new antidotes for the disease, and none of them have survived.  Cinder is volunteered to be a test subject by her guardian, but much to Cinder's surprise, she discovers she's immune to the disease.  This realization is the first step in Cinder beginning to piece together her early life.  With the plague spreading, war brewing with the powerful Lunars, and Cinder's unlikely friendship with the Crown Prince Kaito, Cinder finds that she is the missing piece to an intergalactic puzzle.

This is billed as a retelling of Cinderella, but there really isn't a whole lot of Cinderella left, which was just fine with me.  It kind of has the framework of Cinderella.  Cinder lives with a guardian (who is not nice) and two sisters (who are NOT ugly, and one is actually quite nice).  Her father (who adopted her) is dead.  Cinder has to do all the work to support the family and is not allowed to go to the ball.  She falls in love with the prince, runs away from the ball (and leaves a foot behind, although there's not searching door-to-door for her due to being arrested).  So yeah, it was Cinderella-y, but it wasn't just a retelling of the story, for which I was glad.
I enjoyed this and I'd like to see where the series is going to go.  There is a lot going on in this story, and at times it was confusing and a little convoluted.  We don't really get a whole lot of background on the world Cinder is living in.  It's the future, there have been two more world wars, and after the fourth one, the world was divided it as it currently was in the story.  We also have the Lunars, who live on the moon and have the power to manipulate people.  There's a lot of politics and intrigue and mystery going on.  Usually I get really annoyed when I don't understand what's going on in the world, but I didn't with this one.  I think it's because I felt like there was a promise of much more information to come.  So I went along for the ride.


Waiting on Wednesday: Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Getting Over Garrett Delaney  by Abby McDonald.

Seventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly onesided. The object of her obsession - ahem, affection - is her best friend, Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie's
feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep-blue eyes). For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett's constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to '80s indie rock - all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder - until he calls to say he's fallen in love. With some other girl! A heartbroken Sadie realizes that she's finally had enough. It's time for total Garrett detox! Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized selfhelp guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney  comes out January 24, 2012.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Since love had been identified as a disease, everyone has an operation on their 18th birthday.  The operation cures a person of armor deliria nervosa, and then you will be safe forever.  Lena is counting the days until her 18th birthday.  She has been looking forward to it for years.  All she wants is to be safe. But then she meets Alex.  Alex isn't safe, even though he's 18.  Alex is from the Wilds, where people don't have the operation.  Even though Lena knows better, she wants to keep seeing Alex, and before she knows it, they've fallen in love.  Lena is still counting down the days until her 18th birthday, but now it means the end of her world.

I really enjoyed Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, which I thought was thought provoking and original.  I was hoping for more of the same from Delirium.  I didn't quite get it.  I knew what was going to happen the moment the book started.  Clearly Lena, who was so safe in her protective world, was going to fall in love with some guy and realize that All Was Not As It Seemed.  Which is exactly what happened.  So it was pretty predictable.  But I will say the end was a little surprising.  There was a bit of twist involving Lena's mother, who committed suicide when Lena was little.  Lena's mother didn't respond to the operation, and supposedly love drove her mad.  That was an interesting side-plot.

So this operation, I have questions.  It seems like it doesn't just get rid of love, but emotions of all kinds.  People who have had the operations have a glazed, kind of glassy way about them.  It's like all feelings are gone.  Except people can still get angry.  There's plenty of adults getting angry.  And adults being cruel.  Super cruel.  So I found that inconsistent.

One thing I did like is how Lena's preservative of herself changed.  Lena has always thought of herself as average and plain.  She's nothing special, she thinks.  She doesn't believe that Alex would like her over her beautiful friend Hanna.  As Lena and Alex fall in love, Lena begins to see herself as Alex sees her, and her confidence grows, not just in her physical appearance, but in all aspects of her life.

I think teens who enjoy dystopia romances will like this books as well.  I just didn't think there was anything particularly different or exciting about it.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Yay Cherie Priest!  Boneshaker is going to be a movie!  I really hope it's good!

This comic sounds awesome.  I must find it. 

Parents still prefer paper books for their children, even if they're e-readers themselves.  From The New York Times.

Authors recall the best book they ever got for Christmas.  I think some people aren't telling the truth...  From USA Today.

Notable children's books of 2011.  And by "children's books" they mean from picture books to YA.  From The New York Times.

Neil Gaiman guest starred on The Simpsons.  You can watch The Book Job on Hulu.

Brian Selznick is happy with the movie adaptation of The Adventure of Hugo Cabret.  From the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Yeah, I know I'm seriously behind the times.  A few years ago when the entire world was reading this book, people kept asking me if I'd read it yet and what I'd thought and I'd say, "Yeah, it's on my to-read list."  However, my to-read list is about a million books long, and I just wasn't that interested.  It seemed to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it books.  Either people said it was the most amazing thing they'd ever read, or people were totally unimpressed, didn't know what the big deal was and discussed how it was clearly written by a middle-aged man, as no one else could write a book where female characters of various age kept jumping into bed with a middle-aged man.

I finally decided to read it because of the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is coming out and I saw the preview and it looked kind of awesome. And since I feel strongly about reading the book before seeing a movie based on a book, it was, at last, time to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  So I did.

In case you've been living under a rock, or work in a field where you primary read YA literature, it is the story of Mikael Blomkvist, a respected journalist who's just been find guilty of libel, which puts a crimp in his career.  Blomkvist is hired by Henrik Vanger, the head of an old and powerful Swedish family to ghost-write his autobiography, but the real reason Vanger hired Blomkvist is to solve a decades old murder of his grand-niece, Harriet, who vanished without a trace in 1963.  Blomkvist joins forces with Lisbeth Salandar, a researcher with a photographic memory and authority issues.

Here's the interesting thing about this book: almost half of it was set-up.  Things didn't actually start happening until more than halfway through the book.  The story is so incredibly detailed that over 200 hundred pages are spent giving us all the background we need in order for the action to really start.  While this was kind of annoying after a bit, I was interested and involved enough (and horrified enough) to want to see where things were going to go, so I carried on and was reward with one royally fucked up story.  Whoa.  Holy shit.  I was so, so, so, not prepared.  How is it that whenever people talked about this book no one ever said, "Oh, P.S., not for the faint of heart."  Or maybe, "Involves graphic violence against women."  Or even, "You may want to throw up at various points while reading this book."  Something.  Anything.  I'd like to have been warned is all.  Because holy shit.  Fucked.  Up.  So disturbing. 

So...yeah.  It was certainly an engaging story.  Lots of twists and turns and near escapes and horrible, horrible things happening to people.  I kept reading, even when I was absolutely horrified, so well done book.  I am now a lot more wary about seeing the movie.  I also don't feel the need to read any of the subsequent volumes.  Unless the movie's really good and then I'll have to, I guess.

In conclusion: graphic violence against women.  A lot of it.  Just be prepared.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

Kaelyn is living on an island that is part of Canada when an unknown virus suddenly appears.  It starts out just seemingly like a cold - sneezing, coughing.  But then it breaks down your social inhibitions.  Then the hallucinating starts, and then you're dead. Kaelyn's father, a microbiologist, is working hard to find a vaccination, but things are getting bad fast.  The island is quarantined, and even though they've been promised food and medicine from the government, no help seems to be coming.  Is it only a matter of time until the virus takes them all?

I classified this as a dystopia, but it isn't, not really.  It hasn't actually happened, so I guess it's sort of futuristic, but something like it could happen, and the world Kaelyn was in was our world today.  It isn't out of the realm of possibility.  It was particularly creepy reading it because everything that happened was possible.  It wasn't one of the "strange disease sweeps through and then everyone turns into brain eating zombies!"  It was like Outbreak.  A previously unknown virus shows up somewhere and people start dying.  It moves very fast and there isn't a whole lot of time to find a solution for it.

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