Friday, May 27, 2011

Serial by Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch

I was so excited to read this story after reading an interview with the authors about how they wrote the sequel. A story about two serial killers hunting each other was too interesting to pass up. I will say I pictured the story to be slightly different than what it was - like the Masters of Horror episode Pick Me Up.
I will warn anyone who wants to read this story - it is highly graphic. There is a rape pretty early on and several graphic death scenes. The overall "book" is quite short and an easy read.
I wasn't sure how I felt about the ending. It's slightly comical which worked but it didn't have that build-up that I expected. I will say I didn't see the ending coming.
Not much I can say about this story that won't give things away.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Beastly by Alex Flinn

This modern rendition of Beauty and the Beast was amazing but I am already disappointed in the movie (they changed the characters far too much).
The story follows Kyle Kingsbury, son of local legend newsanchor Rob Kingsbury. Kyle has been raised to know that beauty is what makes a person successful. He's arrogant and shallow. So much so that when an unattractive student at his school becomes his date for homecoming, he works to humilate that student. Turns out, she was a witch in disguise. For his act, Kyle is turned into a hairy beast.
Sadly, Kyle is rejected by his father and locked away in a house away from their manhattan home. Kyle decides to embrace the beast and changes his name. His only companions are a blind tutor and a foriegn maid. They become his family but he's still lonely.
Kyle pours himself into creating a rose garden but one night a man breaks into the greenhouse looking for money for drugs. That man offers his only daughter in exchange for his freedom. Things start to change for Kyle when that daughter turns out to be the girl who saved him from an even worse fate.
I don't want to give too much away but the story stays fairly true to the tale. In truth the plot isn't as important as the growth the reader sees in Kyle. He becomes someone so wonderful that everyone will fall in love with him.
I'm sad to see that the movie has so many changes but I will see it when it comes to video.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Summer Challenge

My 14 year old son and I were talking about summer reading. He's become quite a reader but we both have a huge collection of books we have never read. We love the library and often read books from the library before we read our own. We talked about challenging ourselves to read only the books we own. Then we thought of a theme - books that have been made into movies. So we went through our YA books so that we could have books we could easily read through the summer and would interest us both.
The books we came up with were:
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Marvelous Land of Oz by L Frank Baum
Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
The Outsiders by SE Hinton
Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key
The City of Ember by Jeanne Du Prau
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Charlotte's Web by EB White
Stuart Little by EB White
The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brahares
Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
Curious George by HA Ray
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett
The Princess Bride by William Goldman

That was a longer list than we expected. There were a few rules - the movie must be based on the book not the book on the movie and we needed to be able to access the movie easily. We did talk about books that have more than one movie such as Escape to Witch Mountain but decided that we would cross that bridge when it came to it.

The challenge is to read one book each week and watch the movie. You will notice that the books vary in length and difficulty. I had my son pick out what he wanted to read most and cross off the ones he absolutely had no desire to read until we had 12 books for the 12 weeks of summer. We've determined our 12 books but not the order in which we will read them. We both have to read the book so some weeks we may have to patiently wait for the other person to finish the book. We'll figure out how we will fix that later.
Our 12 books are:
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
The Marvelous Land of Oz by L Frank Baum
Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
The Outsiders by SE Hinton
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Charlotte's Web by EB White
Stuart Little by EB White
The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
The Princess Bride by William Goldman

I hope you join us with your own 12 books. If you don't have 12 books in your personal library that have had movies made from them, try the local library. There are sooooo many books that have been turned into movies. If you have time, you can try some harder books but definitely take the time to see the movies as well. Our goal is to see what we like better. Some books/movies like The Princess Bride are so good that I can't choose one over the other.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Holiday at Hell House by Christle Gray

I won this novella from the author on her site. I picked this particular book because it's her first YA book and it sounded interesting.
Hell House is a group home for otherworldly teenagers in a time when society knows that these beings exist. (Hell House is a nickname for the house but I can't remember the actual name of the house.) The main character is the head of house and has decided to give the kids a real Christmas. It's a disaster. There are new kids showing up. The power goes out. The stove's not working so the turkey doesn't get cooked. The tree goes up in flames.
What happens is touching and funny all at the same time.
My only complaint with this particular book is that the story took up less than half the book - the remainder was filled with a very long excerpt of one of the author's adult books. I didn't read the excerpt because I don't like excerpts (I never get my hands on the whole book or I forget that all I read was an excerpt and don't read the book because something is familiar about it.)
There is a sequel to this story and I think I would rather have had the two stories together and not had the excerpt. As I said I didn't pay for the story so I'm not disappointed but I would be concerned about purchasing the second "book" of the series.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rivermarked by Patricia Briggs

I cannot express how much I love this series by Patricia Briggs. Mercy Thompson is the woman I want as my best friend. The stories are so fun and adventurous. Mercy is the kind of woman who doesn't mind getting dirty and yet seems to still be a woman. She's not frilly but she still likes being treated like a woman.
In this book, she and Adam have finally gotten married. The wedding was hilarious. Adam takes her on a camping honeymoon near Mary Hill museum. I have to say that it would have been my ideal of a honeymoon had I thought of it. I loved the description of the area and the incorporation of the museum into the story.
Of course, this is Mercy we are talking about and what vacation would be complete without the ghost of her father and a huge monster in the river eating people.
I thought the story of Mercy's father was quite touching and the introduction of a few new characters (Mercy learns she's not the only one who can turn into an animal and not be a Werewolf). There's some Native American folklore which pulls out some of Mercy's heritage. It's a great book and I could talk about it all day but that would ruin some things for those who want to read the book (and possibly the series).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

When I first started reading this book, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it through it. The first couple of chapters bounce from present to past tense, settling on present tense for the remainder of the book. Present tense is not always the easiest on the brain for following a story. I have to say that the author was so good at scripting a tale that you forget the story tense and get sucked into the plot. It was an amazing story. I highly recommend it (and can't wait to get my hands on book 2).
The story follows a young man (who goes by John Smith through most of the book) who came to Earth when his planet was attacked. He was one of nine children brought to Earth with the idea that they would return to their planet when the time was right. As a protection, the children were given certain "spells" that prevent them from just being killed - they have to be killed in order. John is number four and the first three have been killed.
It's a great story of finding yourself, understanding your place in life. John has been on the run his entire life and just wants to make friends, fall in love and be normal. He questions his destiny but ultimately does what he believes is right. He gives everything of himself to those he is closest too. He has a few "whiny" moments but they are completely in character and poignant.
The author has created an amazing world and realistic characters. There's really something for everyone in this book. There's talk of environmental issues (without being preachy), committment, love, friendship and bully issues. I was just impressed.
Pittacus Lore is, in himself, a character. It's not overly obvious but Pittacus is an elder in the story and is somehow writing them at the same time. I am interested in how the author is going to bring this detail out in the stories.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Night of the Living Dead by John Russo

This is one of those graphic novels that a parent must read before allowing their child to read it. It is not appropriate for children. It's not overly violent but there is a lot of drawn nudity and sex. I was a little shocked at how graphic that was.
This graphic novel is based on the original Night of the Living Dead movie. It jumps around various characters and scenes as the first wave of zombies happen. There is some interesting insight to some of the characters that wasn't in the original movie.
It's an okay story. I think I would have preferred if it stayed with just the original characters or excluded them completely. It just felt like something was missing. Granted it's going to be a series so that may account for some of the missing something but I can't say for certain.
I can't really say I liked this either. It's not the worst I have read but it won't be the best either. It's entertaining enough.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wolverine - Old Man Logan by Mark Millar

After reading Mark Millar's Wanted I wasn't excited to read anything else by him. I picked up this graphic novel not realizing that it was Millar's work. I loved it. I love when authors twist characters and put them into unusual settings. I think I like that far more than just reading about the character in their normal stories.
In this "world", the villians have taken over. There was a battle that left most of the superheroes broken (that is if they survived at all).
Wolverine is one of those that survived but he has given up being Wolverine and is just Logan. He married and had kids. He and his family live on a homestead in California that looks just like the Wild West. They are struggling to make ends meet. Their land is owned by The Hulk and his group of redneck children. The Hulk family is violent and unforgiving but allow Logan 30 days to catch up his rent.
He meets up with another superhero (at this moment I have forgotten who since it wasn't one I was familiar with) who offers Logan a job. All Logan has to do is be a bodyguard/navigator while the other man drives a package across the country.
They meet up with a variety of villians and superheroes in an equal variety of locations and situations. There is a slight underground movement with the hope of returning the power to the heroes.
The ending is typical of Wolverine stories but still a good journey to go on. I don't know if this is a new series or just a random story. I kind of hope it's a series that I can track down because the world was fascinating.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dr. Horrible and Other Horrible Stories by Zack Whedon

I loved Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. If you did too then you'll love this book. It doesn't make a lot of sense if you aren't familiar with Dr. Horrible. The stories in this graphic novel are really snippets of stories of the various characters. There's little character development because it was written with the idea that you already know the characters.
If you haven't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, definitely do a youtube search and watch it (we found the complete "movie" at our library on DVD). It is a musical and it is a comedy. It's all good fun where you'll be rooting for the bad guy to win.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Serenity: The Shepard's Tale by Joss and Zack Whedon

I had plans to post a book a day this week since I've got a pile of graphic novels but this one couldn't wait. Not only is it a great book but I didn't want to forget anything so I could share it.
This is a book for fans of the television show Firefly. There's not a lot of development in this graphic novel. It's all backstory about Shepard Book who was a mysterious character through the entire series.
The graphic novel starts with the scene that lead to Book's death in the movie Serenity. It's then told in snippets, each a few year before the previous one. It's an amazing story. There's not a lot of detail but you get a real sense of what happened to him.
Because of the nature of this particular story, there's not a lot I can share without giving away some secrets. I do have to say that the way Joss and Zach wrote this story is perfect. I don't think it would have the same impact if they would have started with his childhood and worked up to his death. The best part of this is not understanding his motivation while you watch the results. It just goes to show you that even great men can have dark pasts and still be great men. I like that God doesn't forsake and even the most humble beginnings can find peace.

Hollowfields by Madeleine Rosca

Earlier this year I reviewed the first volume of Hollowfields, to my surprise we found a copy with all three volumes. This is defininetly the way to go. Hollowfields is such a cute story with so much action that it should please most readers. This is my 14 year old son's favorite story so far.
Nine year old Lucy Snow is going to boarding school for the first time in the middle of the year. She gets lost and finds herself at a school. It's been raining and she is so hungry that she signs the school's contract just to stay inside. It doesn't take long for her to discover she has just joined a school for future mad scientists.
Each Friday, a student with the lowest grades is sent to detention in the Windmill where they are never heard from again. Lucy wants to avoid the Windmill and sneaks out at night to find a dictionary in the library. What she finds is Dr Bleak, a speaking metal cube. Dr Bleak helps her with her assignments and help keeps her out of detention (but just barely because there are forces working against her).
Through the course of the story, Lucy matures (as much as a nine year old can) and finds herself plotting to save the children from the Windmill and free all the students from HollowFields.
There are some scenes that give you the history of the school and how it came to be. It's a rather predictable story but so engaging. Lucy is cute and animated but she's surrounded by all these gruesome experiments. She keeps a very Pollyanna attitude and becomes the hero at the end. There is some animated violence but it's done in such a way that it's not scary. There's a lot of humor and silly cartoon antics.