Friday, April 17, 2009

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

This book literally made me lose my appetite. Could hardly eat anything until I had finished it. Good thing I had a hard time putting it down and finished it quickly!

Peeps is about parasitic vampirism, an intriguing concept. The central plot is invigorating. The reader is as clueless as Cal, and therefor just as shocked as Cal is when he learns more about what is going on. The slight horror elements provide a high level of spookiness, but nothing too terrifying that I couldn't read it at night by myself.

My favorite part of this book were the interstitials between chapters that talked about various parasites and their circle of life. Absolutely fascinating. And revolting. But oh so good. I found I could not control myself after reading some of them, and had to read them alound to my Better Half to share. To which he promptly put down his folk and muttered" this is why we don't read at the dinner table".

Scott Westerfeld is a genius. His writing is easy and gripping and entertaining and funny and interesting and.... I could go on and on. But rather than do that, perhaps I should just go pick up the second book. Can't wait!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Love Finds You in Last Chance, California by Miralee Ferrell

As a resident of California, this is the first book I've read from Summerside fiction, and I already look forward to reading more!

LAST CHANCE, CALIFORNIA is Classic Christian Fiction: broken people who get their happy ending (except the villain, naturally). That having been said, each story tends to be a little different. Ferrell's book stand's out from the others in that it has a stronger central female character than most. Alex is not only head strong and independent, butshe also thinks things through and does a lot of her own investigating. She isn't afraid to speak her mind and doesn't care what those around her will think of her actions. Quite refreshing! Justin, the central male character, is so genuine you can't help but love how he has taken to caring for Toby and Alex. I also found myself curious about Christy's situation and her back ground story - how did she get to where she is? What is truly in her heart? How will her new future change her?

Ferrell's writing style is easy and gripping. Her words come off the page, making you feel happy and warm when the characters are smiling and nervous when the action gets super tense. Ferrell is an author to keep your eye on.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ranger's Apprentice: The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan

I was a little reluctant to read this sequel, and I'm not really sure why. The first book was good enough. Perhaps I only needed to know the setup. The title gives away the plot anyway, right? But Better Half was going through the whole series at an alarming rate - devouring each book one after another. So eventually I picked it up. Yup, there sure is a burning bridge.

As far as second books go, this one was just mediocre. All action before the title scene is excellent, including the very tense, hold-your-breath moments right before. After the bridge burns isn't nearly as tense and exciting unfortunately, and then leads up to a cliffhanger at the end of the book.

What is fun about this book is the race of Skandians - their devoted loyalty unto themselves first is amusing. Morgarath's army of Wargals and Kalkara is downright terrifying. We also see growth from the main characters of Will and Halt, as they endure more tests of their skill and faith. I was also pleased to see the inclusion of girls to this plot more than in the first book.

I do not feel I NEED a cliffhanger to get me to pick up the next book, but I suppose it does help to grab and keep readers. Will have to see how long it takes me to pick up the third.

Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

This book was another one I would look at in the store - pick it up, feel it's cover, smell the pages, then put down again. Just wasn't sure if I wanted to read it or if it would be worth the effort. Finally, with my Better Half standing next to me "That book looks AWESOME, I would totally read it," I purchased a copy to read on an upcoming long drive. What I got in return was my Better Half reading it in the passenger seat, all but hissing at me when I would quietly ask if he wanted to take over driving for a little bit.

Bottom line: These books are a fantastic boys adventure/fantasy series.

This first one does a fantastic job of setting up the world - characters, location, skills, enemies, adventure, impending conflict. It was nice to see the main character not get what he wants right off the bat (to be a warrior). Instead, after a fun scene, he is chosen to be a Ranger with the ever-elusive, super wise Halt. The action scenes are easy to read without getting too boring - as action scenes often drag on too long and are too bogged down with description. The monsters are frightening, the clues as to who this feared enemy Morgarath are welcomed.

And though there is hardly a female presence, The Ruins of Gorlan will leave both male and female readers wanting to put on the cloak and join the Rangers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

One word: Terrifying.

Kyra is a 13-year-old girl living on a Religious Compound, who is Chosen to marry her uncle, a man over 50 years older than her. She immediately knows this is wrong, mainly from the books she has borrowed without the Prophet's consent. She has seen the fierce discipline around her, the mysterious deaths, the unnecessary losses and knows there is a life that is better than this for her. What she goes through and what she endures in pursuit of that other life is disturbing and heart-breaking.

The Chosen one plays out like a gory car crash that is so terrible to see and yet you can't for the life of you look away. An important book, much in the same vein as Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. These are the topics writers have to write about and readers have to read about to keep our children safe.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ruby's Slippers by Leanna Ellis

While I would consider myself a strong fan of Leanna Ellis, it took me a little longer to get into the flow of RUBY'S SLIPPERS.

Still, that's not to say this book didn't hold me in it's grip. The beginning throws you right there into the tornado with Dottie and her little dog Otto. The chapters are short, the language is jumpy, Dottie is fading in and out of consciousness. Through her recovery, I felt very tied to Dottie's emotions. Her sense of confusion, her desire to be back where life was normal, her growing love for the friends and security the home provides. Because of this, I felt just as wary as Dottie to step outside and follow through with the rest of her trials and travels.

Ellis writes with a simple, clean, light style the pulls you along. However, the bits with Dottie's sister felt way too rushed, the relationship not as fleshed out as it could have been to convey a finer sense of what each sister's motivations were for the family. The theme of The Wizard of Oz, while very prevalent, was not overly forced in. Ellis skillfully weaves elements and icons from the famous movie into her own plot-lines, managing to create a finely woven bond rather than a straight up comparison between the two. The major themes felt similar to the previous two books by Ellis, but the situations and voices were much more stark.

I look forward to what Ellis has in store for us next!