Thursday, February 28, 2008

Book 9: Y The Last Man: Motherland

TITLE: Y The Last Man: Motherland
AUTHOR: Brian K. Vaughan
STARTED: February 20, 2008
FINISHED: February 20, 2008
PAGES: 144
GENRE: Graphic Novel

FIRST SENTENCE: I'm coming for you, Beth!

SUMMARY: [From] The latest adventures of Yorick Brown, last man on earth, consist of one standoff after another. Yorick stands off girlfriend Beth--in his dreams. Then Yorick's sister, Hero, and the only baby boy on earth stand off a gang of amazon archers. Then Yorick's guard, agent 355, stands off the mysterious ninja who has been hot on Yorick's heels all along. Then geneticist Alison Mann, Yorick's personal researcher, stands off her father over Yorick. (Her father? Yorick's not the only last man?) In the end, Yorick's off to Paris and, he hopes, Beth.

THOUGHTS: Another short review: I like it. I love it. I want some more of it.

I can't wait to see how this series ends.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Book 8: Pride of Baghdad

TITLE: Pride of Baghdad
AUTHOR: Brian K. Vaughan
STARTED: February 19, 2008
FINISHED: February 19, 2008
PAGES: 236
GENRE: Graphic Novel

FIRST SENTENCE: The sky is falling!

SUMMARY: [From] During an American bombing raid in 2003, four lions escaped from the Baghdad Zoo. That true story is the basis for this excellent fable by Vaughan (Ex Machina; Runaways) and Henrichon in which the animals can talk to one another and discuss the relative merits of captivity and life in the wild. After they're unexpectedly freed, Zill, the alpha male; his one-eyed ex-lover, Safa; his current lover, Noor; and Noor's cub, Ali, must fend for themselves in an unfamiliar land: the ruined city. They discover dangers both man-made and—despite Noor's insistence that animals can rise above their baser natures—among their own kind.

THOUGHTS: First, the art in this graphic novel is gorgeous. I can't get into a graphic novel if I don't like the art. Well, since I loved the art, I had a predisposition to love this book. Vaughan does a masterful job of taking a simple story and turning it into a well crafted allegory of a current event. Since the book is so short, I can't give it much of a review. I enjoyed the story immensely and felt that this graphic novel could be enjoyed by a wide ranging audience.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Love me?

I've placed a new poll over in the sidebar. The winner of the last poll was "Fiction." I selected Emma Donoghue's "Slammerkin" as the title. And, actually, I am so into the book that I am almost done with it.

Therefore, go vote in the new poll (which romance should I read?) so that I have something to grab right after I finish "Slammerkin."

Monday, February 25, 2008

That's what I'm talking about

I so pulled this a few times. There were certain books in school (cough The Red Badge of Courage cough) that I completely faked reading.

What book did you fake?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Book 7: The Sweet Far Thing

TITLE: The Sweet Far Thing
AUTHOR: Libba Bray
STARTED: February 4, 2008
FINISHED: February 19, 2008
PAGES: 819
GENRE: Juvenile / Fantasy

FIRST SENTENCE: The night was cold and dismal, and out on the Thames, the river men cursed their luck.

SUMMARY: [From] It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order - the mysterious group her mother was once part of - is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence's burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

THOUGHTS: It was not until the end of this book that I felt the urge to just sit and read for hours. I don't know if I was expecting more or if I was expecting something different. I enjoyed the first two books in this series, but this final entry felt uneven and stuffed with unnecessary characters and plot lines.

What I liked about this book:
1. I enjoyed how Bray paralleled the events in "real life" with what was occurring in the realms. Bray writes Gemma's life as a complete event. The real world is not an area of safety - the realms and reality intertwine.

2. Yeah Kartik! I'm glad he came back and I agree with his fate. I can't say too much without giving the ending away, but it was right. Even if I did see his plot line coming, it was the right thing to do.

3. Pippa being evil = awesome. There was no other way for her character to be an integral part of the book. Also, kudos to Bray for making Pippa evil while managing to keep her a sympathetic character.

What I disliked about this book:
1. Where did this character and/or plot line come from? I found myself saying that A LOT while reading. This book clocks in at over 800 pages. I'm all for long books, but this novel could have lost 300 pages and still be good. In fact, I think it would be better. I think Bray had these characters and/or plots in her head since the inception of the story, but, instead of editing herself where editing was needed, she threw in all her ides in the conclusion to the trilogy.

2. Kartik and Simon should have been in the novel more. They're not only important characters, they were two of the best ones in the series. I kind of wanted to see a scene between the two of them toward the end.

3. The ever present feeling of "Huh?" I felt while reading. As opposed to the first two books, I felt like the writing and plotting in this novel was sloppy. There was a number of times I felt lost and had to re-read pages.

All in all, this was a good ending to what could have been a great juvenile, fantasy series. I think "The Sweet Far Thing" was in desperate need of editing, but the novel was still enjoyable.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Laughing So Hard I'm Tearing Up

I just posted this clip on a blog I manage for my graduate school organization. It was too good not to repost here.

Oh, Ronald Weasley.

Monday, February 18, 2008

How can books be unimportant?

I was tagged by Jace for this meme. Since this is my book blog, I am going to keep my things all book related.

Here are the rules:
-- Link back to the person who tagged you.
-- Post the rules on your blog.
-- Share six unimportant things about you.
-- Tag six random people at the end of your blog entry.
-- Let the tagged people know by leaving a comment on their blog.

Onto the meme!

1. It's hard for me to read without a beverage nearby. It can be water, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or red wine, but I have to have something liquid within reach.

2.The majority of the books I own I have not read. Hence why this is the year of Reducing Mt. TBR.

3. I am always on the lookout for a bookstore. It doesn't matter where I am (be it in my town or in Italy), I am always looking for bookstores.

4. I give books as gifts... all... the... time.

5. My favorite place to read is in bed.

6. When I read outside, I tend to space out and daydream.

I'm not actually going to tag people, but feel free to leave your six random things in the comments.

Who doesn't?

This is even more hysterical if you work in a library.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New poll!

The first poll for 2008 is now posted in the side bar. Since this is the year of Reducing Mt. TBR, all the polls will help me whittle down my mass collection of unread books. All of the polls this year will list genres or titles I already own. I just need your help determining which books I should put on my nightstand.

Currently, I'm having trouble deciding what genre I should attack next. So, please, tell me which type of book I should read next.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Book 6: The Smithsonian Book of Books

TITLE: The Smithsonian Book of Books
AUTHOR: Michael Olmert
STARTED: Who knows - it was assigned in my course this summer
FINISHED: February 1, 2008
PAGES: 320
GENRE: Books about Books


SUMMARY: [From] Through glorious illustrations from library collections around the globe, you'll discover a wealth of book lore in these pages, and gain a new appreciation for the role of books in human society, from our earliest attempts at writing and recording information to the newest electronic books; from sumptuous illuminated and bejeweled medieval manuscripts to Gutenberg and the invention of movable type; from the diverse arts and crafts of bookmaking to the building of magnificent libraries for housing treasured volumes; from the ancient epic of Gilgamesh to the plays of Shakespeare and the tales of Beatrix Potter; and from the earliest illustrated books to revolutionary science texts. Breathtakingly illustrated throughout with 284 color and 99 b/w illustrations.

THOUGHTS: This book was assigned in my course last summer on the history of the book. We were not assigned the entire text, but I told myself I would finish up the chapters we skipped. Well, I did... but it certainly took me long enough.

This book provides a nice crash course on all things books. While it is extensive in its nature, the book is by no means comprehensive. If your looking for an entertaining and informative text (now with pretty pictures!) this book is a good option. The text throws in enough anecdotes and random pieces of information that it was never once boring.

My one suggestion... read it over the course of a long period of time. If I had sat down and tried to read this over the course of a week, I probably would have hated it.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Book 5: The Raven Prince

TITLE: The Raven Prince
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Hoyt
STARTED: January 24, 2008
FINISHED: January 30, 2008
PAGES: 378
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: The combination of a horse galloping far too fast, a muddy lane with a curve, and a lady pedestrian is never a good one.

SUMMARY: [From] After reviewing her somewhat precarious financial situation, Anna Wren comes to the conclusion that she needs a job. When she discovers that Edward de Raaf, the Earl of Swartingham, requires a new secretary, it seems like the perfect solution to her employment problem. Having already lost two secretaries because of his temper, Edward reluctantly agrees to give Anna a chance. Much to Anna's surprise, she finds she likes working for the often stubborn but unexpectedly kind Edward, and Edward soon realizes that Anna is not only an excellent secretary but also an extraordinarily intriguing woman.

THOUGHTS: A romance novel that didn't make me wanna kill it? Wha? Thank goodness I was finally able to read a romance that resurrected my love of the genre. The Raven Prince is not a keeper by any means, but it was the most enjoyable romance novel that I have read in a good long while. Let's hear it for inventive plots and believable characters! Hoyt has a nicely flowing and witty writing style that allows her characters to just "be." They are not forced into a plot structure. The book seemed organic, natural, but, most importantly, it was fun to read.

Anna and Edward strike a nice balance with one another. Both are stubborn in their own ways, but neither character made me want to hit them upside the back of their respective heads. They fight, but in ways that are entirely believable. And, unlike other romance novels, when the characters feel anger toward each other the reason is not stupid and contrived. Woot!

Also, props to Hoyt for making even the cookie cutter secondary characters have their own quarks. I like it when authors push the envelope past the usual stereotypes without trying to be radical. Besides, if I had an old butler who pretended to be senile, I'd act the same way the Earl did.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Book 4: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

TITLE: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
AUTHOR: David Sedaris
STARTED: January 18, 2008
FINISHED: January 23, 2008
PAGES: 257
GENRE: Memoir

FIRST SENTENCE: When my family first moved to North Carolina, we lived in a rented house three blocks from the school where I would begin the third grade.

SUMMARY: [From] In this phenomenal #1 bestseller, David Sedaris plays in the snow with his sisters. He goes on vacation with his family. He gets a job selling drinks. He attends his brother's wedding. He mops his sister's floor. He gives directions to a lost traveler. He eats a hamburger. He has his blood sugar tested. It all sounds so normal, doesn't it? Yet Sedaris lifts the corner of ordinary life, revealing the absurdity teeming below the surface, exposing a world alive with hidden motives and obscure desires.

THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this book. It is, however, difficult to expand said enjoyment into an actual discussion of the book. My book club met last night to talk about this read and the night was a series of "I like this" and "I thought this would be a little different." There wasn't so much a discussion of the text as a bullet pointing. In honor of that, I'm bullet pointing my thoughts:
  • I liked it. Yeah! I did, however, think it would be funnier. The only other Sedaris work I've read is Holidays on Ice. That book had me cackling. This book, was equally as enjoyable, let me more amused than riotous.
  • Sometimes the ancillary "characters" of the book were more interesting that Sedaris and his family.
  • There were many times I wanted to know more about a certain point and/or situation in Sedaris' life. I wanted to more about he and Hugh, his relationship with his father, etc.
  • It's refreshing to find a writer who seems to be completely honest about his own faults and flaws.
Foodie roomie mentioned after the meeting that she wondered if we would have looked at the emotion (namely the sad parts) of the book differently if it had been fiction. Good question, I say. And, I think I definately would have viewed the work differently. Knowing these events actually happened in Sedaris' life is what gives the text its momentum.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]