Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yesterday, I finished Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms, by Lissa Evans. A children's book meant to evoke a feeling of adventure, magic and wonderment, I am left with mixed feelings.

Although the cover, I like

 You might have noticed the key word in my previous sentence - "meant." While reading, I felt like I understood exactly what the author was trying to do. It was an admirable goal - to create another magical tome for the impressionable, gooey minds of our children. Unfortunately, it did not quite succeed.

It is definitely not a bad novel, and there were aspects I liked - the colorful characters, the use of setting, the historical information spread throughout. I can just tell that the author did not quite create the magic that she is striving for (not uncommon, of course).

I felt like the novel was enjoyable, and the author gets a lot of child traits correct - you do feel as though the author understands the world of children. It just doesn't quite get above and beyond the obvious and into the magical realm that will make it a "must-read" for children for years to come.

I think the worst thing about this novel, actually, is that it almost gets to that magical peak. A world of promise, a tantalizing glimpse of what it wants to be... Yet these glimpses only lead to slight disappointment because the novel never quite gets there.

An okay, but not a MUST, read.

*This novel was provided by the publisher as a review copy, but all opinions, etc., are my own.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Expecting Moore Comedy

I'm a big Christopher Moore fan. Ever since I first stumbled across Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story as a senior in high school and devoured it while riding airplanes and suffering motion sickness, I've been hooked. So I was really excited at the prospect of reading his latest novel, S'Acre Bleu, a book which involves the Impressionist artists and is described as a "Comedie d'Art."

Sacre Bleu has Moore's trademark crazy plots, and definitely had some laugh-out-loud moments, but I wouldn't call it a comedic novel. Overall, the story is interesting, but it didn't leave me with that bubbly feeling of mirth and fun that I generally get from reading a genuine comedic novel. The feelings that are usually brought forth from reading a Christopher Moore novel.

Maybe Christopher Moore is simply becoming a more serious writer, or a more mature person.

Like I said, the book was interesting. Moore obviously did a bit of research, and is also genuinely interested in art, which shows in his writing. And the plot is zany, which keeps the reader interested and wondering where the crazy ride is going to end up.

Did you read this novel? What were your thoughts?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review: Embrace

I received a review copy of Jessica Shirvington's Embrace, one of those YA angel books.

This book was my first encounter with the angel genre romance (except for Elizabeth Chandler's dated Kissed by an Angel trilogy, which I read over a year ago), and it was not completely unsatisfying.

I was hesitant to pick up a supernatural book that focused on angels. Zombies? Okay. Shape shifters? Interesting. Vampires? Fuck yes, sign me up for some seductive, bloodsucking fun!

But angels?

This struck me as wrong.

I think primarily because I had always associated the supernatural with horror. Not that all zombies, shape shifters, and vampires in novels are evil beings. But there's always this tinge of danger and even inherent unholiness in the supernatural books that I've read (except, of course, for The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, which felt more Jurassic).

I think we can all safely say that angels are rarely thought of as "unholy," even though a lot of us think of demons as former angels.

& initially, the lack of "holy" regarding angels in Embrace did strike me as trying too hard, to make angels seem edgy or something. It does seem impossible to entirely leave religion out of a book about angels, however, and I would not be surprised if faith in God becomes more prevalent as the series waxes on...

I read this book because I was curious, and thinking that maybe the angel fad craze isn't as crazy & stupid as it initially sounded. And it wasn't particularly crazy or stupid.

I quite enjoyed the first third of the book or so.

In the middle, the book begins to feel predictable, and Violet (the protagonist) does suffer from "newbie-who's-amazingly-powerful-and-great-at-everything-and-who-all-the-guys-want-to-fuck"ness, but eh, it's a YA book, right?

Overall, I was left with the impression that this was an okay book. I went through phases where I really liked Violet, and phases where she was a bit too goody-goody for me, but since she's supposed to be some human-angel hybrid, I guess we can let that last bit go. And like I said, the first third of the book, I was very invested. I was just a bit disappointed that my initial emotional investment ended up waning.

Somewhat simplistic writing. Good for a beach read, quick read. Not a bad introduction to the "angel" genre.*

*This last criterion is based solely on my lack of regurgitation whilst reading, and might not be entirely unbiased.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fairy Tale Re-Tellings

I don't know about you, but I love reading a well-told, re-told fairy tale. Here is one in the succinct form of a tweet. B/c Jenny Johnson is kind of awesome.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: Chomp

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Carl Hiassen's recently released young adult book, Chomp.

Available for sale on March 27, 2012, this book was a lot of fun, while also touching on some dark subject matter.

Essentially, the novel follows the young Wahoo as he helps/watches over his father, a professional animal wrangler. Wahoo's father, the far more sensibly named Mickey, was recently injured (by an iguana that fell out of a tree), and so income has been tight. Wahoo's mother conveniently goes on a trip to the other side of the world (China) for work to earn some extra income, which leaves the boys by themselves.

In the midst of their male bonding time, the opportunity to help out on a popular "reality" television show comes up. And with their increasingly dire financial straits, really, how could they say "no?"

Well, regardless of whether they're capable of uttering negative syllables or not, they agree to help. Wahoo is knowledgeable, and kind of boring, but his father is awesome. Mickey is hilarious and fearless. In the middle of the book, the reader is also introduced to Wahoo's classmate Tuna, a girl suffering from living with an abusive, alcoholic father. Tuna is also fairly awesome, despite introducing an element of danger near the end of the novel.

This book is filled with memorable characters, zany situations, but at the same time, isn't merely frivolous fun. The characters definitely aren't perfect, but they are a pleasure to get to know.

I definitely recommend reading this book. Due to the abusive relationship between Tuna and her father, however, this might not be a book that you want younger (12 and under) reading by themselves. It deals with the relationship in a very open way (although the abuse is only physical), and if your children are reading it, you might want to have an open and frank discussion concerning physical abuse first.

Take a Chomp out of Hiassen; read this book.