Alone

September 23, 2014 at 2:50 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

box setTitle:Alone

Author: Robert J. Crane

Genre: Thriller

Format: Kindle Ebook

Alone is the first of a three part series called The Girl in the Box.  I found the whole series as a free Kindle download on twitter.  (You can find some amazing deals through twitter.)

Having now read the first of what seems to be a pretty bold series, I can whole-heartedly say that this is a title worthy of purchasing the paperback.  It’s all action and go from the first page to the last, and Crane’s plot points are well calculated and paced perfectly.

I’m pretty excited about reading the whole series and can’t wait to review the box set as a whole.  Fans of the TV Shows Alias and Lost Girl will find themselves completely engrossed by this first book.  There’s plenty of action, moderate gore, and a good amount of mysterious story reveals to keep any reader on edge and holding their breath for the next scene.

Other reviewers seem to find a lack of character development and interesting storytelling, but I think those people are missing the book’s purpose.  It isn’t about character development – it’s not meant to be the latest story of the ages (read here: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or The Matrix).  Instead, this is an entertaining action story, worthy of a blockbuster movie (read here: Die Hard, Mission Impossible, Resident Evil, etc).

Give it a try – you can download the ebook for free.  See what you think.

 

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City of Glass

June 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

It seems even though this is my second time reading this book (my second time through the series as I prep to read the final volume!), I didn’t write proper reviews for each one.

I addressed the series, made references to Cassandra Clare’s work in many of my reviews, but City of Glass never got a review all it’s own.

So here it goes:

city-of-glass2Title: City of Glass

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Young Adult/ Teen/ Fantasy

Length: 541 pages

The book cover finally features a boy *with* his shirt on. However, the cover still annoys me. I suppose I’ll never get over how embarrassing they are. I’ve never preferred having actual people on the front covers of the books I read, unless of course they’re in some sort of Victorian garb. For some reason a person on the cover never truly embodies the mood of a story the way I want it to. I prefer buildings, scenery, landscapes, or the hint of a person.

For instance…

City of Glass 1That’s a cover I don’t mind flashing the masses, a train full of people, other moms at a public park, or I don’t know – MY KID.

Who am I kidding? In the U.S. the cover up top is the only one that is going to move copies of the book.  I’m an odd duck.  I know that.

Regardless of all that – I still adore these books. Brain candy, teen flick, romance nonsense and all. I just love them.

I love the book references, the intelligent quotes, the very teen appropriate quips.  I love that Jace (Jonathan) Wayland/Morgenstern/Herondale/whoever reminds me so very much of my own Jonathan at that age.  Clare has cocky teenage boy dialog down to an art.  Jace’s cockiness rings true and familiar, the knowledge that he is attractive and desired, edged with angst anyway.

I remember those conversations.  I remember the beautiful, desired boy flirting with me – the short, somewhat tomboyish and frumpy nerd who was always a little out of place.  Granted, I never got Luke & Leia -ed like Clary and Jace did.  But I think what makes these books so marvelous is despite the fantasy, despite the action and apocalyptic level of drama, despite the paranormal parts that drip into every aspect of the story – there’s something familiar for everyone in these stories.  Especially City of Glass, and the ever burning question so many romances have: If it’s not forbidden will he/she still want me?

This time around I re-read the first book, City of Bones, after seeing the movie. The library didn’t have the second book, City of Ashes, on hand so I just skipped it and went onto City of Glass. By doing this, I was brought to a whole new level of appreciation for the series, Cassandra Clare, and each book individually.

Even though I jumped in having skipped the second book – I wasn’t lost. Although the second book is pivotal to an epic saga of the Nephilim, I didn’t feel out of sorts by not having read it. Clare does such an excellent job of having each book stand on it’s own even though it’s merely a puzzle piece in a giant story. I love that.

I know it’s the thousandth time I’ve said this, and I shall say it a thousand times more – Well done, Cassandra Clare, Well done.

Do I feel bad about re-reading young adult titles over and over again and the age of thirty? No, not anymore.

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”- C.S. Lewis

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A Review of Michael Grant’s Gone

December 13, 2012 at 5:04 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Gone_Michael_GrantTitle: GONE

Author: Michael Grant

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Young Adult/ Science Fiction

Length: 558 pages

Take the horror of Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the paranormal excitement of your favorite comic books, and put it smack in the middle of modern-day California stuck in a bubble, and that’s Gone.  It’s all sorts of dark, twisty, disturbing, and pretty awesome.

My niece handed me this book, she’s in the third volume of the series, and loving it.  She’s into the dark and twisty books these days, I remember being into them at that age too.   And though I’m hooked on these as an adult as well, I find these a little too dark and twisty from the perspective of a parent.

Kids killing kids, babies starving to death trapped in homes without care, fires, dark demon-like creatures on the hunt, it’s a little too much when I think of it with my own kiddo in mind.  It puts my obsessive crazy brain on a mission to ensure my child is a self-sufficient survivor with some mad Kung Fu skills under her belt as soon as possible.  It reminds me the value of teaching my kid about God, love, and the makings of good leaders; how to recognize right from wrong and good from bad without having an adult there to tell you.  In case of crisis, this is the plan…

When it comes down to it, Grant is a great writer for this genre.  He is dark and twisty, but he does limit his descriptions as to leave plenty of room for the imagination.  So although there is a dead baby that’s needs taken care of, a twelve-year-old is less likely to visualize the entire process of a baby being alone for eight days and then found dead.  Grant addresses the smell of the house, the fact that the main character has to clean it up and take care of the child, and the emotional trauma of the situation, but he doesn’t go into a gross CSI style detail that would move me to guide a twelve-year-old away from the series.  That’s what keeps the book so intriguing rather than nauseating.

Well, that and the fact that I’m a sucker for dystopian societies and coming of age stories.

My recommendation if your kid picks this up: Read it WITH them, and be ready to discuss.

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Indulging My Latest Addiction

July 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

*Spoilers!*

Title: City of Ashes

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: McElderry Books

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Length: 453 pages

My obsession for these books goes against every fiber of my being, but I love them.  I blew through City of Ashes in just a few hours and am pausing to write this review against the deep urge to blow it off and just start the next book.  But the kiddo is napping and my blog is being neglected, so I have no excuse, and will sit and spout off a few thoughts before I move onto City of Glass.

First of all, the Jace and Clary business hasn’t been resolved yet and my impatient self likes to get past the angst and the romance and on with the war.  It’s that deep inner girly desire to lunge head on into adventure *with* the love of my life, rather than struggling with all the defining the relationship business.  I was never good at that, I married my best friend and soul mate after years of waiting for him.  The angsty waiting should be reserved for books like Persuasion, for me, not warrior demon-slaying sagas.  That’s probably what hooks me with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series, Jamie and Clare are married.  I get why that’s not applicable for a young adult series though.

Second, and mostly notable because its fresh on my mind (being in the epilogue), I love the Harry Potter reference.  It is fantastic.  Although, the subject matter puts this series in the sub-genre of Meyer’s Twilight Series, I find it more comparable to Harry Potter or the wonderful works of Robin McKinley.  There’s a fine line, but it makes a huge difference.  For those who read McKinley’s Sunshine as an adult, and perhaps read the Hero and the Crown, these books will suck you in.

Third… well, actually, I’m done here, I have more reading to do!

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And She Went There – A City of Bones Review

July 8, 2012 at 2:46 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

*Spoilers!*

Title: City of Bones

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: McElderry Books (http://imprints.simonandschuster.biz/margaret-k-mcelderry-books)

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Length: 485 pages

Oh my… geeze Louise.  What the heck! I totally saw the insinuation of the plot developing, and I completely anticipate that this particular plot development will prove to be false… But Clare totally STAR WARSed us!  Except with Luke and Leah there was relief that came with the knowledge of their familial ties (after the ewww moment), because at least then we felt ok about hoping that whiny Luke didn’t get the girl and that Leah and Han Solo were meant for each other.  Clary and Jace! Really? Did Cassandra Clare have to go there?  Yes, yes, I fear she did.  Although I’m not buying the story line, it worked hook, line, and sinker and I’m itching to find out what happens next.

Of course, now, perfectly livid and irritated at my fascination for this series, I’m both addicted and torn.

What am I torn about? And why am I still addicted?

1. I was not a Twilight fan.  Meyer captured her target audience, and it was a fun little fairy tale – so in that aspect I can respect it.  But Bella is useless and I pretty much hate her character, Edward is ridiculous and I pretty much hate his character, and their whole relationship, I think, is absurd and sends the wrong message.  Cassandra Clare’s work definitely goes in the same genre, so in that sense I don’t want to like these books.  Still, Clare is just so much better with her character development, her story telling, and her writing.  Granted, I could do without all the teenage melodrama romance, but the adventure and the world she has created is wonderfully fascinating. (Read my Twilight review here: https://anakalianwhims.wordpress.com/tag/flaubert/)

2. These books are complete fluff.  In general, I am particular about my fluff.  I am very judgy, and frankly, a bit of a book snob.  Apparently, though, I’m in the mood for some complete and utter fluff, and a girl needs a healthy dose of dessert in her life in order to truly enjoy the non-dessert.    Clare makes up for the feeling of reading a crap ton of mind numbing cotton candy equivalent books with a healthy dose of literature references, so instead of cotton candy, I feel as though I’m reading a lemon meringue pie (with extra cool whip).

3. I absolutely protest having half naked boys on the front cover.  It’s a huge turn off when it comes to my book buying tendencies.  I was duped by Infernal Devices and the gentleman in the top hat.  Happily duped.

4. Then, which to read next? City of Ashes? (Book 2 of Mortal Instruments) or Clockwork Prince? (Book 2 of Infernal Devices).  Infernal Devices is the better series so far in my book, mostly because its Victorian and steampunk and all that delicious goodness, but I’m in a little more distress over the Mortal Instruments story line in this moment.  Does Clare pull a few more twists and rectify this ridiculous love story into the something morally acceptable I feel she is alluding to – or am I going to writhe my way through an incestuous romance?  And if this situation is resolved as I suspect (and hope) it will be, how does she do it?

Side note: Contrary to recent and probably most frequent posts, this is not a blog dedicated to childrens or young adult titles.  I read them a lot, therefore review them a lot, mostly because I have a child and partly because I enjoy reading what has been published since I was a child myself.  In the coming month(s), my readers/ followers can (fingers crossed) expect to find reviews and commentary for Book 3 of Les Miserables, Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Ferris, Merchant Kings by Brown, a surprise title sent to me to review by an author, and the latest discoveries in my Astrology research project.

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The Part Where I Admit I’m a Sucker…

July 4, 2012 at 2:04 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

…for any book cover featuring a gentleman in a top hat.

Title: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: McElderry Books

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Steampunk

Length: 478 pages

I am very skeptical when it comes to current popular young adult titles.  Anything published in the aftermath of the Twilight Saga makes me pretty inclined to doubt that the story will be anything but unequivocal crap.  In fact, when I first saw the covers of Cassandra Clare’s original series The Mortal Instruments (City of Ashes, City of Bones, etc.), I had no interest whatsoever in the nearly naked teens displayed on the front cover in all their thin, muscled perfection.  Clockwork Angel, on the other hand, the first in the prequel series The Infernal Devices taunted me for months.  This front cover is still shimmery and radiates young adult paranormal pop culture crap, but the teen isn’t naked, he’s in full on Victorian era attire, coat, top hat, the whole shebang.  I was torn.  How did they know they would suck me in like this?  How did Cassandra Clare know that this book was basically screaming at me: YOU, You pompous, self-righteous, book snob, YOU, try to NOT read THIS one!

I rebelled.  I refused.  It continuously called my name.  And if it hadn’t been for 1) S. Smith renewing my faith in *new* young adult fiction with Seed Savers and 2) Felix J. Palma enchanting me with a love hate relationship with The Map of Time (that a. ended in love and b. also featured a somewhat shiny top hatted man on the front cover), my rebellion would have won out and in turn I would have lost out.

Cassandra Clare, if you are reading this, I loved Clockwork Angel.  I didn’t want to, because I’m a book snob, but you won me over, with – of all things – book love.

Clockwork Angel is a little bit paranormal, a little bit steam punk, a whole lot of adventure, and even more book worship.  Clare’s characters are well read in all my Victorian and pre-Victorian favorites.  No matter how predictable or typical they behave, they win me over every time with their references to Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, A Tale of Two Cities, countless poets, and more.  The feelings are that of typical teens without over exaggerating the melodrama.  And the adventure and fight scenes are just down right fun.  How do you pass up automatons, vampires, warlocks, and gadgets?  You can’t, especially when its been so long since the vampires have actually been bad guys, not sparkling, cheesy love interests.  Thank you Clare, for putting those vamps in their place.  In Clockwork Angel we know they are bad guys, dangerous, but they don’t over run the story… it’s not entirely about them, they’re just part of the landscape… Thank God.

Now, of course, I have the entire Mortal Instruments series sitting on my end table to be read, despite their front covers.  I’m suckered, I’m hooked, I have to know the whole story.

End Note: I’d put Clare’s writing at about a 6th-7th grade level, content probably for a 14+ but I’d have no problem letting anyone younger read it because there’s nothing inappropriate or anything, it just might take a slightly older child to catch all the literature references.

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Unclean Spirits by M.L.N. Hanover

December 17, 2009 at 7:10 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )


Book One of the Black Sun’s Daughter Series

Unclean Spirits is a  fun adventure filled fantasy to veg out with your favorite snack and a comfy pillow.  Hanover did a good job of taking an overused theme (vampires and metaphysical ghosties verses the good guys fighting evil) and turning it into something fresh and fun and not too plot heavy with romance.  Jayne Heller makes for a great escape fiction heroine and I’ll be interested to see how the rest of the trilogy turns out.

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