Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Ruby Red book review by The Wayback List
Title: Ruby Red (The Ruby Red Trilogy #1)
Author: Kerstin Gier
Rating: *****
ISBN: 978-0-312-55151-3
Publisher: Square Fish (An imprint of MacMillan)
Genre: Young Adult - Fiction - Fantasy - Time Travel - Romance
Source: Library

Summary: From Goodreads: "Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must not unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicious about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon - the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust."

Thoughts: I loved this book. I had a few qualms, which I will address in a moment, but overall the story was incredibly fast paced and engaging. Gwyneth makes a wonderful heroine. You sympathize with her and want to be her at the same time. Though, maybe minus the creepy counts and secretive societies.

I did have trouble, rather like Gwyneth, with keeping track of how much time had passed between each event. And I felt like Gideon became less repulsive a little too fast. Those were my two qualms with the book, I prefer relationships to develop a little more realistically.

I think Kerstin Gier did a great job of making you go through a lot of the emotions and questions that Gwyneth was going through. Loving and loathing characters as she learned to love and loath them. Her world was completely believable and I just wanted to keep being drawn deeper and deeper in to it.

Gier created a magnificent and believable history for her secret society. I really did believe that this society could exist and that the records they were speaking of were complete. That was key to my enjoyment of the book. If there had been loop holes or inconsistencies, then I would have tired of it very quickly. However, since the history behind the group seemed so tangible, it was easy to slip in and believe that Gwyneth really was thrust in to something over her head.

I also loved that, though the book was a translation, the translator did such an amazing job at translating it, I never once thought about the fact that it was a translation until I was sitting down to write this review. Rushing to get my hands on the next one now!

Favorite Quote(s):
- I was terribly excited when I climbed into the hopped petticoat. "This feels just like carrying a birdcage around with me."

- "That was incredibly reckless and...dreadfully dangerous and..." He swallowed hard and stared at me. "And, dammit all, rather brave of you."

What are some other time travel books you like?

- Faye

Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: Death Note Vol. 1 by Tsugumi Ohba

Death Note Vol. 1 manga review by The Wayback List
Title: Death Note Vol. 1
Author: Tsugumi Ohba (Translated by: Pookie Rolf)
Illustrator: Takeshi Obata
Rating: ****
ISBN: 1-4215-0168-6
Publisher: VIZ Media, LLC
Genre: Young Adult - Fiction - Manga - Urban Fantasy - Supernatural - Horror
Source: Library

Summary: From Goodreads: "Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects - and he's bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal...or his life?

Thoughts: I have watched a good number of the episodes of the televised version of this manga, but the friend that I normally watch them with is busy right now, so I decided I would pick up the manga to read. (They are almost identical to one another so far.)

Death Note deals with a lot of dark themes and huge questions. Is what Light is doing with the Death Note right because of the nature of the people he is going after? Is he merely being seduced to think that it is right by the nature of the Death Note? Will L catch him or will he eventually get away with it?

This book constantly has your questioning your beliefs and opinions on so many things. It is incredibly suspenseful and very fast paced. I should have known better than to only bring the first volume home from the library because now that I remember the story, I want to hurry through to the end. I have a feeling my next library haul will be incredibly massive.

The characters are very well written, and the translation seems good. It's a little jarring to read the manga from right to left since I don't make a habit of reading much of this genre, but after several pages I settled in to a pace and grew accustomed to it.

I would recommend this book for thinkers. The "horror" elements to this book are more psychologically terrifying than the illustrations are gruesome. Light and L make great opponents - each trying to discover the other before they are discovered themselves. The battle is intense so far, and I can only assume it will get more insane before the end.

Do you have a favorite manga series?

- Faye

Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Fablehaven book review by The Wayback List
Title: Fablehaven (Fablehaven #1)
Author: Brandon Mull
Rating: ****
ISBN: 978-1-59038-581-4
Genre: Young Adult - Fiction - Fantasy - Adventure - Magic
Source: Library

Summary: From Goodreads: "For centuries, mystical creatures of all description were gathered to a hidden refuge to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic in a cynical world. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite... Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order amoung greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most."

Thoughts: I was very pleasantly surprised by Fablehaven. I was looking for a completely different book on the young adult shelves at the library when this one caught my eye. I had seen the cover many times before, but avoided picking it up because I assumed it was a Spiderwick wanna-be. This time, however, I decided that it might be worth taking a peek at, and brought it home with me.

Boy was I glad!

I found myself readily enjoying the story Brandon Mull put forth in Fablehaven, and am looking forward to returning to the library ASAP so that I can get my hands on the rest of the series.

I thought that Mull's characters were engaging and consistent. Seth was a very frustrating yet endearing younger brother, and Kendra's fears and concerns were very relatable. I remember being a lot like her at that age. Mull wrote them in very believable ways, and I was never jolted out of the story through thinking that a character had done something out of their nature. (One of my biggest pet peeves for a book.)

The fairies and other magical creatures in the books were both parts wonderfully fantastic and terribly creepy when they needed to be. This book might concern some very young readers, but I do not think that they would find it overly frightening. The book balanced the scary parts of the story with light-hearted scenes and characters who looked out for each other.

I appreciated that, even though Seth was the reckless, rule-disobeying character, it was obvious that Kendra still cared for her younger brother. Sure, they had their sibling moments, and there were times when she would threaten to tattle on him, but I never got annoyed at these moments like I have with some other young adult books. Instead, I felt like both Seth and the reader knew enough about what was going on to see that Kendra was coming from a place of genuine concern and not trying to "play mother" as the older sibling.

Another thing I appreciated was that there were genuine consequences for every action. Whatever that action may be, something reacted to it. Both positively and negatively.

Overall I would say this is a highly enjoyable read and I will definitely be looking in to the rest of the series.

Favorite Quote(s): 
- Grandpa became very serious. "None of these creatures are good. Not the way we think of good. None are safe. Much of morality is peculiar to mortality. The best creatures here are merely not evil." (page 80)

- "We did not really live, not like mortals. We dreamed." (page 91)

- "Evil likes darkness."
"Why is that?" Seth asked.
[...] thought about the question a moment before answering. "Because evil likes to hide." (page 284)

Discussion Questions: (Please note, though I do my best to keep spoilers out of my reviews, discussion questions are by nature for people who have read the book and may contain spoilers. Read them at your own risk! Also, if you are responding to one of the discussion questions in the comments below, please put SPOILERS at the beginning of any portions of your comment that might ruin the book for other interested parties. Thank you!)

- What did you think of Grandfather's way of seeing if his grandchildren were the right type of people for Fablehaven? Do you think his plan was a good one or a bad one?

- What did you think of the way the fairies treated Seth after he accidentally turned one of them in to an imp? Do you think his punishment was the right one?

- Why do you think Kendra was able to get through to the Fairy Queen?

- Do you think Lena is happy with her fate?

What do you think of the Fablehaven series? Do you like Fablehaven or Spiderwick better?

- Faye

Friday, March 28, 2014

Blogger Book Club March Read: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Rating: *****
ISBN: 0525478817
Genre: Fiction - Young Adult - Romance - Contemporary
Summary: From Goodreads: "Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But what a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten."

Thoughts: I have a very hard time coming up with something new and unique to say about this book. It is heart-wrenching, but beautifully honest. Sure, you could look at some of Augustus and Hazel's conversations as rambling, repetitive, and juvenile, but guys, think about their ages. Think about what else they are going through and how they are handling it. I found it easy to forgive that might have been perceived as annoying in other books, because I saw so much wit and beauty in the rest of their stories.

I don't know if you know the whole story, I knew the whole story going in, and I really did not want to read this one. But I decided it would be good for me to step out and challenge myself, and I am so glad that I did.

This book will challenge you. It will probably make you cry. I understand that John Green took some liberties with the depiction of cancer (making up the drug that Hazel was taking), but I also felt as if he accurately described what it was like to have cancer and to be a family stricken by that reality. I came away from the book with more sympathy and more understanding for what so many people go through. I also came away so thankful that I am not stricken by cancer and that I can live a life with an undisclosed ending.

Sometimes we need a couple flawed heroes to show us what life is really about.

Favorite Quote(s): (Oh my gosh, guys, picking out favorite quotes is making me tear up again. This book! It gets inside of you!)

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."

"My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations."

"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world...but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices."

"Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you."

"You gave me forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."

Discussion Questions: (Please note, though I do my best to keep spoilers out of my reviews, discussion questions are by nature for people who have read the book and may contain spoilers. Read them at your own risk! Also, if you are responding to one of the discussion questions in the comments below, please put SPOILERS at the beginning of any portions of your comment that might ruin the book for other interested parties. Thank you!)

- Augustus' cigarette. What did you all think of this symbol that he carried around? Did you cry when Hazel had to come find him (and call the ambulance) at the gas station because he was trying so hard to take control again and get himself a new pack of cigarettes? I know this annoys some people, but I felt that Augustus' unlit cigarette was Augustus doing exactly what the book kept saying - controlling the killing thing. He could make life worse for himself, he could make his body deteriorate faster, but instead he holds it in his mouth and mocks the killing machine - feeling powerful when everything around him says he's weak.

- What did you think about the way the book ended? How we never get to know for sure the rest of Hazel's story?

- What did you think of Augustus' death being Hazel's 10? I cried. Loss is such a powerful thing - it's hard to feel any worse than you feel when you loose something - I was just amazed that for someone so young she realized so much.

- What do you think about the movie that's coming out? Will you go see it? I won't. The actors they chose just aren't my interpretations of Hazel and Augustus, and I'd rather stick with the ones I fell in love with.

- What did you think of Augustus' desire to do something big or to die an epic death?

- What did you think about the idea that the universe wants to be noticed? Do you think the world works that way?

- What did you think about Hazel's desire to not be a grenade? Is that even possible?

Do you like reading books that make you cry? What are some other beautiful tear-jerkers I should look in to?

The Best of Intentions

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #3

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly link up hosted by Tynga's Reviews every Saturday. It is a place for bloggers to share what they have been adding to their book shelves recently; physically or virtually. Books bought in a physical store, online, brought home from the library, borrowed from friends, gifts, and eBooks are all welcome to be included in this link up. What have you been adding to your shelves recently?

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Fablehaven (#1-3) by Brandon Mull
Sin City: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller
The Unoficial Lego Builder's Guide by Allan Bedford
Paris in Love by Eloisa James

Murder in the Latin Quarter by Cara Black

Have you read any of these? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

- Faye