Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Not Death, but Fate. Creepy.

First off I want to say that Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now was hands down my favorite title of 2004. Even before it got the Printz. So let's just say I was rather looking forward to Just In Case.

It's so very different from her previous novel. So much so that it's impressive. If you took the name off the cover I would never have guessed that it was the same writer. Of course, it's been about two years since I read How I live Now so this may just be a transitory impression.

David Case suddenly realizes that Fate is after him. It comes with the startling acknowledgement that he is mortal; that at any moment he could be snuffed out by any number of hostile and random events. He becomes paranoid and thinks that he can elude Fate by becoming someone other than himself - by becoming his own alter ego - Justin Case. Fate finds this very amusing. Fate decides to play with Justin. Poor Justin.

Rosoff had me completely in her grips. She didn't quite go where I expected, and this, as with How I Live Now will require some pondering and discussion. I'm not as sold on it as I was the first, but it was very interesting.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Cork in the Dam

This is it. The last book read prior to the deluge that is the Cybil Awards. Actually, in this case, I went with the audiobook. This was a serendipitous choice, as The Boy Book, the sequel to this, The Boyfriend List, has been nominated and I will be reading it sometime in the next 2 months. Which reminds me! Have YOU nominated your favorite 2006 titles yet? You should. Go here.

Meanwhile, I'll continue talking.

Ruby Oliver had a few panic attacks and now she has to see a shrink. This shrink had her make a list of all the boys she's ever dated or thought about dating. Of course, putting something like that in print? Not a great idea. But what messed her up so much that she had to go to a psychiatrist in the first place?

I totally get this book. Ruby is in love with Jackson. Jackson is a slimy jerk, but Ruby doesn't realize it. When Jackson dumps her and starts dating her best friend... she can't quite move on. This isn't the greatest book to read if you want to feel great about men, but I completely understand everything Ruby goes through. She makes some bad decisions, but nothing earth-shaking. She is the voice of every teen girl when it comes to boys. I hope things get better for her in The Boy Book.

One thing: It may have been because I was listening to it rather than reading it, but there was some SERIOUSLY crazy chronology here, but the message got across, so it couldn't have been too bad. Wait. Make it two things: The parents, at times, were caricatures. Maybe it was just how the actress performed their lines, but I don't think so. girls, 12+

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hey Look! It's Queen Elizabeth I! In a comic!

As has been stated previously in this blog, I enjoy graphic novels, but when it comes to being well-versed in character history... I'm just not. Really, my knowledge is almost (but not entirely, thank you very much) limited to the movie versions. Sorry. In all fairness, I do tend to see quite a lot of those movies...though I think I can safely say I have no intention of seeing Ghost Rider. So, when I step into something as elaborate and meticulous (well, I think) as Gaiman's re-imagined Marvel 1602 I think that I would get a great deal more out of it were I the type of reader who possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of the extensive Marvel Universe, or even if I were obsessive enough to go to the fantastic character database. Which I'm not. But hey, maybe you are. I won't judge. Promise.

For instance, I truly have no idea who some of the characters in this actually are. However, other the obvious ones, I think I caught on to most of them by the end. There were two characters in particular whose more familiar personas' were especially amusing with their reveal at the end. Surprisingly, though I don't know why, the character commonly known today as Daredevil was the most engaging in this compilation. I now think that Mr. Fantastic is a total dork. Mostly because his constant stretching about was annoying. I don't know if he does that normally, if he was just showing off (or the artist was) or if he just has trouble holding a standard form.

However, none of this is relevant. The basic premise is: What would the world look like if super powers began to appear 400 years ago? How does it happen and how does the world cope? The answer: Not terribly well, but it really does get nicely folded into the actual historical events of the beginning of James I's reign in England and the later years of the Spanish Inquisition (which, I'm totally ashamed to admit I didn't realize until I just looked it up lasted for the better part of 400 years. Must read Incantation to reconcile my failure. Good thing it's conveniently on the Cybil's YA list!).

My only quibble? The end was, um, confusing? I'm still not quite sure what happened. I should probably go back and re-read, but that's so not going to happen. I think that there were several different endings. Some possibly occurring in alternate realities. Or not. Really, I did read it. Sigh. Oh well. I'll convince myself of some happy ending that is completely contrary to what actually happened. That's not to say whatever did happen wasn't happy. Oh dear. Well, read it if you want to. I might have just lost interest when Matthew Murdoch left the picture. ;)

Monday, October 23, 2006


I LOVE Ella Enchanted. I've read it, I think, three times, and we all know that rereading is quite the luxury. I rarely do it. So Naturally, upon hearing that Fairest was set in the world of Ella, well, I was pretty excited.

First I would like to point out the similarities between the covers (well, and the stories themselves being alt-fairy tales perhaps, as well...) of this book and of Bella at Midnight. Some of it may be in my head, but you've got a girl's face, you've got an ornate object of importance to the story, and you've got this brocade-like thing going on with the dress here and the cover pattern there. Notice how one is far better executed than the other. That's all. Just pointing it out.

Poor Aza was adopted. While she loves her family she doesn't feel like she fits in at all because everyone tells her that she is, well, quite ugly. The only time Aza feels comfortable is when she sings. No one has a better voice than Aza. The problem is that the image-obsessed Ayortha rarely see past her looks. When Aza ends up at the castle to witness the King's marriage she can no longer hide in her parents' inn.

There's something about a good fairy tale. Hours before I began this book I was talking to Gwendolyn about the fact that there hadn't been a good romantic comedy in the theaters in ages. While Fairest has elements of the classic rom-com, what with the miscommunication, etc., it really doesn't fall into that category. Fairy-tales, at least for me, hit that same button. Let's call it the happily-ever-after button. It just makes me feel good. I like that. I don't have any criticisms. This book made me happy. I can't really ask for any more than that, can I?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Death by Giant Worm... huh.

On LibraryThing, my Scott Westerfeld tag has gotten awfully large. The Last Days just made it bigger, and finally, to my relief, it's bigger than the Meg Cabot tag. (Now remember, these are just the books that I've read this year.) I don't know why it bothers me that Cabot was the biggest for a while. I must want my love/hate Cabot emotions to be of the closet variety.

Anyway, The Last Days is the sequel/companion to one of my favorites from last year, Peeps. Now, if you read the Voya review you may think it one of the worst published books this year. I however, think the reviewer was unduly harsh. No, it wasn't Peeps, and yes, once in awhile I had to remind myself which character's chapter I was in, but it was compelling, interesting, and I enjoyed the characters. While I missed Cal, it was gratifying to have a conclusion to the two stories.

Picking up where Westerfeld left Cal and Lace, we meet 5 new voices who, despite the fact that NYC is clearly in a downward spiral slowly being taken over by piles of garbage, hordes of rats and totally creepy giant worms, just want to form a band, play music and get famous. They mostly ignore the state of the world in their teenage self-absorption, with just the occasional but revealing asides. I think that this is one of the highlights of what Westerfeld did in this book. He allowed the teens to try to go on with their normal lives until they had no choice but to admit that normal was no longer an option. Even then, they fit Armageddon into their own agenda. I enjoyed it.

It does bring up something I've been wondering about sequels for some time now. We always say that sequels are rarely as good as the first. Is that really the case though? How much of our perception of the second novel is because we are already acquainted with that world - because it's no longer novel and fresh? For instance, would I still like the first Pirates movie more than the second had I seen them in reverse order? When it comes to fantasy/sci-fi novels, can we truly expect to be as wowed with a fantastical world we are already familiar with? What do you all think?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

No longer any excuse for complaining!

Due to a bout of ambitious insanity, I volunteered and was appointed to the Nominating Committee of the inaugeral Cybil Awards for YA Fiction. The way that it works is that anyone can head over to the Cybils website and nominate their favorite 2006 book in each category. Upon the Nov. 20 deadline, myself and four other enthusiastic lunatics will argue (most amiably, I hope) amongst ourselves until the list is whittled down to five books. We will then turn those five titles over to the judging committee, who will pick the 2006 winner.

Check out the full Rules, think real hard, and head over to the Cybils and enter your favorite book!*

The Following is taken from Jen Robinson's Book Page -
Nominating Committee: These brave souls will narrow down the anticipated many nominations to FIVE.

Jackie (interactivereader)
Little Willow (Bildungsroman)
Mindy (propernoun.net)
Sara (Sara's Hold Shelf)
TadMack (Finding Wonderland and Readers' Rants)

Judging Committee: These dedicated readers will read the five nominations, and select the winner, over a relatively short time period in January.

Leila (bookshelves of doom)
Liz (A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy)
Nancy (Journey Woman)
Patty (It's All About the Book)
Tasha (Kids Lit)

*Do read the other nominees - if for instance The Book Thief and An Abundance of Katherines have already been nominated (which they have) pick your other favorite book of the year.

Blood, and Guts and Gore! Surprisingly not a bad thing. Well, as long as it stays in the book...

Wow, is there ever a lot of Testosterone in this book!

I can honestly say that I've never read a historical novel set in medieval Denmark. Or any of those Nordic/Scandinavian/Viking lands. At least not from the point of view of the Vikings or without fantasy elements. Bloody folk, they were. The closest I think I've gotten is The Archer's Tale by Cornwell. (That book sent me on a Cornwell binge until I read the sequel which tempered my passion).

I wasn't at all convinced that this was going to be worth my time for a good 100 pages. Some of the language seemed forced and it was getting on my nerves. After that relaxed and straightened out, I just wanted to blow off work and read until I finished. Instead, thinking that would be frowned upon, I merely stayed up to 3 am. I finished the book, but only got about 3 hours of sleep. Sigh. It was totally worth it.

Halfdan is a slave. More specifically, he is the illegitimate son of a powerful chieftain, whom, while not married to his mother (also a slave) is in love with her. With this little ounce of power and the luck of fate, his mother makes a bargain that grants Halfdan his freedom, makes him nobility, and gives him tons of guilt, ethical conflicts, and a very nasty enemy.

I'm so reading the sequel.

Without letting anything go (because it really is worth the read), I applaud Judson Roberts in how he set up the next book. Most people I think would have skipped right from the funeral pyre to what Roberts has made into the second book. This was better. I was glued to it.

And yes, I will reluctantly admit that it was totally the cover that got me to pick this one up. I was halfway through the book before I even realized that it, in fact, said Viking Warrior on the cover, not Young Warrior, as my brain would have had me believe.

If you are one of those curious people who get distracted by articles in the encyclopedia, or just want to know more about those bloody Vikings, The Stongbow Saga is an informational site on the subject. Cool.

Definitely give this to fans of The Ranger's Apprentice (then maybe throw The Archer's Tale at them). 14+ what with the violence, though a desensitized 12 yr. old would love it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's Less of a Riddle when you Know the Answer. Kinda.

The Riddle is Alison Croggon's follow-up to last year's The Naming. I find this series fascinating, in a non-traditionally fascinating way. It's taken no little musing for me to figure out why I feel this way. Ultimately, I've decided that it's because no matter how fantastical or monumental the happenings in the book are, it's handled in such a way that not only is it entirely believable, I start trying to fit the fantastic into my world. Which is weird. Even when you think nothing is happening, something is. It's just emotional or psychological. It's quiet. It's subtle. It's gripping. I literally can't put it down. I'm not quite sure how Croggon does it. I dig fantasy, but I don't normally go for the Epic stuff. For instance, I still haven't read any Robert Jordan. Which is apparently some sort of dire sin judging by the gasps I always hear when I admit to that. But jeez, I can't commit to that! And how boring would it be for all you who read this? (that's just a bad excuse I'm banking on to get me out of reading that series for a couple more years...)

You've got your typical orphan, Maerad, born with extraordinary power and destined to save the world from evil. There's one of those prophecies, which naturally leads to the quest we began in the first book. Now Maerad and her mentor have been ruled outlaws, which makes their quest just that much more difficult. Which is just what they need on top of the Storm Dogs, Abominable Snow-Creatures, and that normal teen girl surly-ness.

It's pretty much the standard epic fantasy plot. In fact, it sounds rather ordinary when I break it down like that. There are some rather predictable elements, but it's the journey, right?

Read it when warm, as there is a whole lot of snow and cold. Word of advise - don't get too attached to anyone; Croggon seems to think that killing off everyone Maerad loves makes her stronger.

Monday, October 16, 2006


I have this feeling that everyone and their grandmother has read this by now and loved it, but here I am, talking about it anyway. Dairy Queen was up for a Quill award against Eldest, Book Thief, Elsewhere (prior to blog), and King Dork. Eldest won, probably because of the public voting portion. Having, coincidentally (well, Dairy Queen got pushed up b/c of the nomination), read all of them, I was pulling for Book Thief.

But this is about Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (can I say that I love that name? It has a nice ring...). D.J. isn't big on communication. She flunked English and she barely talks to anyone - especially not about her father's injury, how much she misses her older football star brothers or how tough it is running a family farm all by herself. Not only is she burying her thoughts, she's sacrificing her own interests for the farm. Then she starts training the opposing team's quarterback and figures out exactly what she wants - to play football.

This was great fun. A little predictable, but the characters were excellent. D.J. had a very distinct voice and everyone was well filled out. I won't forget these people soon; they all seemed so real. Very Good.

Incidentals: Other Quill nominees/winners I've read: Julie & Julia, John, Paul, George & Ben, which I loved, but did not include in the blog, and A Breath of Snow and Ashes (yes, I love me some Gabaldon - read prior to blog).

Friday, October 13, 2006

Luv. Twuu Luv...

It's no secret that I think Runaways are the BEST graphic novels out there. These two did not let me down. Seriously, if you haven't read this series - do it. I can't believe that I waited this long to read these last two.

Ok, so the major initial arc was all tied up (...was it?) in the big, glossy, pretty Vol. 1 compilation, and now we have the manga-sized poorly-bound, but who cares 'cause, yay! there's more, stories! The big challenge here was whether Brian K. Vaughn could start a whole new, equally compelling storyline. Yeah. He could.

Our heros have again run away. This time not from their nefarious out-of-the-picture supervillian parents, but from the foster care Captain America left them at the end of the last. They have taken it upon themselves to battle the encroaching criminals (mutant and otherwise) taking advantage of the vacuum left by the absence of The Pride (the evil parents for those of you who STILL aren't in the loop. And yes, I'm nagging). Getting in their way are some former teen superheros who want the kids to have the childhood they scorned. I'm not versed enough in the Marvel Universe to know about these new guys, but I'm guessing that they've back stories somewhere else. Anyway, they are fairly inept (to comic results) when it comes to catching our wily teens, but the well-meaning bunglers (who call themselves Excelsior) have a mysterious benefactor... Not only do the runaways have to constantly elude Excelsior, in a shocking event Gert appears from the future with a dire message...and that's Volume 4: True Believers.

Volume 5: Escape to New York. The slightly disturbing superhero Cloak (whom we've met before) calls on the Runaways to help him out back in NYC. He's been framed for the assault of his partner Dagger (get it?). All the superheros are out to track him down, and that makes proving his innocence difficult. He hopes the kids will be able to maneuver unseen. Cameos by Wolverine, Iron Man (who will apparently be played by Robert Downing, Jr. in the Iron Man movie, which I guess is old news I knew nothing about. But then, I've never heard of Iron Man, so...), Captain America (is it just me, or is CA rather annoying? We learned in the last volume that he has bad breath.) and best of all, Spider-Man. Very fun! There was a guest artist for the first two eps. of this volume. I didn't have any problem recognizing anything, but there was definately a change in feel for me. The edge rather came off; I think that some of what makes this series unique disappeared. But it's probably just me.

Marvel says that Vol. 6: Parental Guidance will be "in stores" on the 25th, but I don't see it on Amazon, B&N or iPage, so here's hoping. Maybe I should just start getting a hold of the actual comics...especially since the future brings Joss, remember?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Double Feature

Right. So I'm being lazy (*hack, sniffle, pops another cough drop*). I'm SEVEN books behind in posting. So I thought I'd combine the ones that go together. I did read them back-to-back after all. And my LibraryThing totally needed more Westerfeld (Just like it needs more Cabot. Or not at all. Incidentally, I just heard a co-worker say "Cabot" as "Cab-o," with a French pronunciation. I know it was wrong of me, but I did laugh. And then I corrected. Yes, insufferable is me.)

I'm sure you are all aware of my Westerfeld love. I keep waiting for him to live up to the love-inspiring Peeps, but alas. I did enjoy Uglies, but, in my opinion, and it does pain me to say it, the trilogy did not get better as it went along. I'm not quite sure why I feel this way. I know for certain, the thing that bothered me most of all in Specials was the fact that Tally, after all of the extraordinary feats and attributes of the first two books, became horrible whiny and unlikable in the third. She had brain damage, whatever, it totally got old. Probably because it was all from her lobotomized point of view.

Pretties was good though. Not as exhilarating as the first, nor was the romance as convincing (and WOW did I miss David - he's rather like the Cullen factor in Meyer's books. He adds a sparkle, and in this case, a weight of authority or authenticity or something that just makes the whole situation more believable & urgent.)

I'll always have his blog...He's consistently clever on that...And it's not like I've given up on SW or anything, after all, I'm reading Last Days right now...

PS- for those of you who tried to go to the Funny Farm two posts ago, try again. In my germ-infested haze I was incapable of the most basic of HTML coding. Terribly Sorry...

Enough with the ellipses already!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Doctor #10 and Daisies

While I shall miss Christopher Eccleston dearly, Doctor #10 (David Tennant) won me over with this lovely line:

"You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room's the greatest arsenal we could have - arm yourselves!"

There couldn't have been a better introduction (I missed the first two episodes).

Goodbye Buffy Quote! Hel-lo Doctor! (We're speaking of my email sig, of course).

Oh, and I'm feeling much better now. Still attached to a box of tissues, but no long feeling dizzy. Definate plus. I can now function as a germy member of society. My apartment has begun to look like Meg Ryan's apartment in You've Got Mail when Tom Hanks brought her daisies to cheer her up when she had a wicked cold. Total disarray. Now, if I could only find some lovely chap to bring me daisies...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


*cough cough*

This is me. Sick in bed. I should be sleeping. But I'm not. I can't seem to manage it. Instead, I'm watching Doctor Who (I so love Christopher Eccleston, I don't know how I'll deal with the new guy.) on DVD and writing this. Which shall be brief. I began to feel guilty about not having posted in a while.

Meanwhile, to assuage my guilt, here's the new obsession: Funny Farm. Have fun!