Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Railsea by China Miéville

Genre: science fiction
Series and Page #: none
Pages: 424

On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death & the other’s glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can’t shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the railsea—even if his captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-colored mole she’s been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they comes across a wrecked train, at first it’s a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict—a kind of treasure map indicating a mythical place untouched by iron rails—leads to considerably more than he’d bargained for. Soon he’s hunted on all sides, by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters & salvage-scrabblers. & it might not be just Sham’s life that’s about to change. It could be the whole of the railsea.

What a strange book. It had hints of Moby Dick but at the same time, China Miéville created this intricate, slightly confusing, but altogether excellent novel.

Sham is an immediately likeable character. He has all these dreams and ambitions of doing what his parents used to do. Something like treasure hunting among the dangerous flatlands surrounding the rails. Instead, he trains to become a doctor like his uncles want him to do. He's a compassionate person. It seems as if everyone likes him, from the captain to the rest of the moletrain crew. He's very ambitious, too. He comes into himself while he's in the railsea. Its fun to see him develop throughout the book.

While the characters excelled, the descriptions were kind of vague. China Miéville didn't do such a great job of explaining the setting of the novel. There was a little description of the way the world was built because there were layers of earth where humans inhabited and where creatures roamed...? I was very confused.

Its difficult to really get into this book. But once you get past the initial exposition its easy to get into the flow of the book. The action was very well written, as well as the characters met throughout Sham's adventures. The descriptions were lacking and occasionally they took away from the novel. Probably not one of those books you'd find at the main shelves of a bookstore, but if you're looking for something new, I would recommend Railsea.

The Cover: I love this cover. The tracks and the garbage and the way the word "railsea" hangs there. It's an attention getter.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Genre: fantasy, sci-fi, adventure
Series and Book #: none
Pages: 528

There are six different stories set in different times: Adam Ewing, an American traveling across the world for his work; Robert Frobisher, a young musician seeking security and an apprenticeship in Belgium; Luisa Rey, a journalist following in her father’s footsteps hoping to uncover a dangerous nuclear power plant; Timothy Cavendish, an elderly gentleman who is sent to a nursing home and is waiting for his chance to escape; Sonmi-451, a clone beginning to understand the world; and finally, Zachry Bailey, a sixteen year old boy growing up in a primitive post-apocalyptic Earth. David Mitchell intertwines their lives in one simple novel.

"A half-finished book is a half-finished love affair."
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, page 64
This was such an interesting read because David Mitchell didn't stick with just one genre as he explores all six different worlds he has created. It bounces from historical fiction to science fiction to post-apocalyptic. This may seem like it would be confusing to read, but it's really not. Its distinctive when he switches stories. The best part is, I got sucked into each story. None were any worse than the others.
Each of David Mitchell's characters in this novel had a separate voice. Each story has an upside and a downside; nothing is perfect. But when writing six separate stories I think it would be extremely difficult to make sure there's no repetition or one story filters into another. Nothing of that sort happened in this novel. The setup of this book begins with Adam Ewing. Then, about halfway through Adam's story, Robert Frobisher's begins. The pattern continues until Zachry Bailey's. That story continues until its finish and then the book returns to the second half of Sonmi-451's story. Then the book continues to the end of Sonmi-451, Timothy Cavendish, etc. until finally, Adam Ewing writes the final entry in his journal.
Cloud Atlas was made into a movie of which I haven't seen. I would like to see how they interpreted it onscreen.
Cloud Atlas is a unique novel. As much as it may seem confusing, it's not. each character has their own voice and David Mitchell does an excellent job of tying all the stories together so they're not random. Sometimes the individual stories ended a bit abruptly. I wouldn't immediately skip to the second half of the story because you'll miss some crucial details in between.
The Cover: I love how it portrays different versions of the clouds. And there are six! One for every character. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Dead to You by Lisa McMann

Genre: mystery
Series and Book #: unknown
Pages: 243

Some memories are better left untouched.
Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family.
It’s a miracle…at first.
Then the tensions start to build, and his family starts falling apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he’d be able to put the pieces back together.
But there’s something that’s keeping his memory blocked.
Something unspeakable….

Lisa really knew how to make Ethan's story believable, but she also plants the seeds of suspicion from early on. Ethan is a likeable character and it seems unlikely that he wouldn't be the same boy who was abducted when he was a kid. Throughout the book there are hints and clues as to who Ethan really is, and its such an interesting development of a character.

I admire Lisa because she must have had to do so much research into abductees and what they go through. Ethan was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, when hostages express empathy toward their captors. Ethan often reminisced about the woman who cared for him until he was dropped off at a home in Nebraska. His memory loss from when he was a kid seems pretty obvious. What drove me to believing Ethan's claim he was the same kid was his ever-present need to remember everything. He wasn't resisting his memories; he truly wished he could remember his brother and best friend and mother and father.

I hope there's a sequel, or something to tie up all the loose ends Lisa left at the end of Dead to You. There's more to be explored in this story (I won't say anymore because I'm afraid I'll let something slip that will ruin the book for you. But I will say this: you won't see the end coming.)

The Cover: It looks like Ethan is dead. The snow connects back to the climate Ethan returns to, and is another metaphor for death.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Genre: social issues
Series and Book #: none
Pages: 310

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio did something I don't think a lot of authors would be able to accomplish. Walking into the mind of a ten year old with a facial deformity can't be easy, and it must be even harder to translate his thoughts into something poignant and understandable to an adult, or a young adult.

Auggie was such a sweetheart. He was so realistic that I can imagine him being out there somewhere battling people who only see his face and not his personality. He wasn't naïve. He knew what was going on and he had the courage to continue on with his life. Not only did R. J. give us Auggie's perspective but she also offered the thoughts of Auggie's friends and family. That gave a different view to what was going on, because although Auggie wasn't a naïve kid, he was kinder than others would have been in his situation.

Even though this isn't a young adult book per say, its still a great read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

The Cover: Simple and creative.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Genre: post-apocalyptic, paranormal
Series and Book #: none
Pages: 239

R is a young man with an existential crisis—he is a zombie. He shuffles through an America destroyed by war, social collapse, and the mindless hunger of his undead comrades, but he craves something more than blood and brains. He can speak just a few grunted syllables, but his inner life is deep, full of wonder and longing. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams.
After experiencing a teenage boy’s memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim’s human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R but also his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world.

"Who is she, this girl? What is she? She is everything. Her body contains the history of life, remembered in chemicals. Her mind contains the history of the universe, remembered in pain, in joy and sadness, hate and hope and bad habits, every thought of God, past-present-future, remembered, felt, and hoped for all at once."
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, page 222
R can't articulate his thoughts. This gives us more insight into R personally. He doesn't say much, because he can't, and so all we hear are his musings on the world around him. He's a very insightful person. Seemingly unlike his zombie comrades, R has some human consciousness about him. His relationship with Julie isn't immediate. Thankfully Julie has some reservations before she starts anything romantic with R. R, unlike Julie, can't seem to get her out of his mind. But for entirely different reasons. R is finally feeling something. Its an interesting pairing, although Julie's father being the head of a whole armada against the undead is a little tired.
Some of you may know that Warm Bodies was adapted into a movie. As far as I've heard, it was pretty good. I would recommend reading the book if you'd be more interested in R's philosophies. I think Hollywood spent more time on R's romance with Julie.
Oh my goodness, what a wonderful book. Isaac Marion's perspective on being undead was interesting. There aren't many novels that take a look at what its like to be a zombie. Warm Bodies isn't exactly Walking Dead or Zombieland. R is a likeable main character. I definitely would read this again, no question.
The Cover: So cool! The dark landscape says something about the dark world R's living in, while the beautiful red scarf shows his final shred of humanity, still clinging to him after all this time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier

Genre: fantasy
Series and Book #: Ruby Red Trilogy #2
Pages: 384

Gwen’s life has been a roller coaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the time-traveling Circle of Twelve. When not searching through history for the other time travelers and asking them for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surround the Circle really mean.
It’s not easy when a secret society, a dangerous Count, and her own time-traveling partner, Gideon, are determined to keep her from the truth. Especially since Gwen can’t decide whether Gideon really believes she’s a traitor to the Circle or might actually be on her side—and creeping into her heart.

UGH! I wish it didn't take as long for these to reach the U.S. They're so good! Luckily, Sapphire Blue didn't fall victim to the curse of the second book. I'm sure you've all experienced it (and if you haven't, consider yourself blessed). I've always known the second book to be the least interesting of a series, trilogy, saga, whatever. Kerstin Gier's second book is just as great at as the first, and hopefully, the third and final book of this trilogy will be just as fun and thrilling.

Gwen was back, sparkling personality and all. She's an amazing main character. She's so quirky, and funny, and very loyal to those she loves. If that wasn't enough to make you love her, just imagine her drunk singing Memory from the musical Cats, in a time long before Andrew Lloyd Webber makes an appearance *waggles eyebrows suggestively*

Sapphire Blue delivers. Color me impressed! Gwen comes back with a vengeance, bringing her unique, awkward personality. Trust me, it's a page turner, and on the final pages you'll be frantically searching for what you missed. It's a cliffhanger if I've ever read one! If only Emerald Green would come out sooner in the U. S....

The Cover: Again, this is a different edition. I think it's the U. K. version...? Lovely. I like the dress theme continuing.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Steelflower by Lilith Saintcrow

Genre: fantasy
Series and Book #: Steelflower Chronicles #1
Pages: 310

Picking the wrong pocket can get a girl in trouble…
Thief, assassin, sellsword—Kaia Steelflower is famous. Well, mostly famous, and mostly for the wrong reasons. She’s made a good life for herself, despite being kicked out of her homeland for having no magic. She’s saving up for her retirement, when she can settle down, run an inn, and leave the excitement for others.
Then she picks the wrong pocket, wakes up with a hangover, and gets far more than she bargained for. Now she has a huge, furry barbarian to look after, a princeling from her homeland to fend off, and an old debt to fulfill. And for some reason, the God-Emperor’s assassins want to kill her.
It’s never easy being an elvish sellsword, and this time it just might be fatal…


Sequel please! Steelflower was packed with amazing adventures, loveable characters, and a world full of intriguing stories.

Kaia was a great character, although she had a nasty habit of denying anything and everything Darik told her about herself and the Elven world she'd left. She was pretty adamant in her belief that she was magic-less and that she'd been kicked out of her country although with the combination of what Darik said and Kaia's memories, it was hard to believe. Which, I suppose, was the point. Despite her stubbornness, Kaia kicked butt, and she has a heart of gold despite her nickname as an Iron Flower.

Steelflower's world is tricky to delve into right away. Lilith Saintcrow doesn't explain things very well. The language, folklore, and idioms are for the reader to figure out for themselves. But it's not hard to get into the flow of things.

I would love to read sequels to this book. Unfortunately, Lilith Saintcrow says on the Steelflower page in her blog that due to piracy, she's not writing any sequels at this time. Hopefully they'll come around sooner rather than later because I really need to know what happens next! If not because of the plot than because of the characters. Kaia and Darik have finally started to develop a relationship, and they're so cute together!! This book is kind of hidden among the others Lilith Saintcrow has written (Strange Angels, for instance) but I think its wonderful. A++, would recommend.

The Cover: So lame compared to the story. Don't judge this story by its cover. At all.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Genre: paranormal
Series and Book #: Strange Angels #1
Pages: 293

Dad? Zombie. Mom? Long gone. Me? Well, that’s the scary part.
The Real World is a frightening place. Just ask sixteen-year-old orphan Dru Anderson, a tough girl who has taken down her fair share of bad guys. She’s armed, dangerous, and ready to kill first and ask questions later. So it’s gonna take her a while to figure out who she can trust…
Dru Anderson has been “strange” for as long as she can remember, traveling from town to town with her father to hunt the things that go bump in the night. It’s a weird life, but a good one—until it all explodes in an icy, broken-down Dakota town, when a hungry zombie busts through her kitchen door. Alone, terrified, and trapped, Dru’s going to need every inch of her wit and training to stay alive. The monsters have decided to hung back—and this time, Dru’s on their menu. Chances of survival? Slim to none.
If she can’t last until sunup, it’s game over…
Dru Anderson’s not afraid of the dark. But she should be.


I've been meaning to check out this series for awhile, and finally when a friend of mine recommended them to me did I get around to it. I can't say its the greatest choice I've ever made in my literate life, but the book was definitely good.

Dru was a very stubborn and very moody character. She's always wanted her dad's approval, seeing as how her mother is dead, so she's very obedient to him. She's not all-knowing. She has her skills and her weaknesses, and Lili St. Crow does a good job of showing that she is, indeed, a teenager, and there's a lot she needs to learn. Graves was a fun sidekick. He wasn't portrayed as a typical strong-guy type seen in many paranormal YA novels. Dru had to save him from himself, which was a welcome change of pace.

Lili St. Crow's writing during the scenes with the supernatural was excellent. The werewolf jumping through the window at the mall, and the creatures trying to kill Dru in her dreams, and the zombies...I was scared for Dru's life! I'm interested to see how the series continues with the new character introductions at the end and, of course, I want to know what Dru is short for. But I must say, this series isn't my number one must read at the moment. It's one of those books to read in a lull, when you need something good and can commit to an entire series.

The Cover: Wonderful! The darkness, Dru's expression, even the lettering adds anticipation to the book.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Missing In Action

Well, I think I've had a plenty long vacation from this realm of cyberspace. I am back, and I've got troves of books to review for you! Be prepared for lots of ranting, and praising, and all together giving you feedback on the books I've been reading while I've been MIA.

Thanks you all of you for sticking around as long as you have. I appreciate it. :)