Thursday, October 4, 2012

Read Along Blog

Please join me at the Book List Read Along Blog to witness my trials and tribulations of reading through book lists that "everyone must read".

Friday, September 28, 2012

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I'd pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring.... until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something...unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon's touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I'm getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don't kill him first, that is


Genre: supernatural; romance

Rating: 4/5 

The Good:
  • I honestly really liked this as a well written romance. Katy is a tough, smart girl who can keep up with Daemon, no matter how cranky and hard to get along with he is. She's also sympathetic and doesn't just sit around expecting the male character to save her. She actually saves him on occasion and does so not accidentally, but by actually risking herself.
  • I appreciated that there wasn't too much stupidity going on with the characters. Katy wasn't willfully dense when it came to the fact that Daemon was different. She picks up on it pretty quickly and finds him odd, just can't figure out what exactly he is until he explains (which is understandable since he isn't your run of the mill supernatural creature). 
  • Daemon is hot. I'll just put that out there. He and Katy have good chemistry even though they hate each other. He's also part of the problem with the book for me, but I like him in spite of myself.  
The Bad:
  • Daemon falls in the "jerk that still gets the girl" category. He's never really overtly nice to Katy before she starts liking him. That has always bothered me with books as I don't understand WHY someone would fall for a mean jerk. A jerk that apologizes I get, but one that is that way to be broody and mysterious I just am not too wild about. I say this but would like to add that I still liked Daemon for some reason. Normally this type grates me like no other, but Daemon somehow actually manages to be this type and still likable. I can't explain it. 
The Verdict:
This was a good paranormal romance. It may be a little risque for some younger readers (they never actually sleep together, but they push the line), but it has a good action story line and a lot of romance that actually feels like it works. 

Temptation by R.L. Stine

In this collection of three fan-favorite stories, the vampires of Sandy Hollow crave the summer months. Summer means plenty of beach tourists…and plenty of fresh blood after months of deprivation. But this year the Eternal Ones have decided to spice things up with a little bet: The first to seduce a hot date of the human variety, and then turn him into a fellow creature of the night, wins.

     The catch? In order to successfully turn their prey, they must take only three small sips of blood on three different nights. If they take too much blood on any night, the human will die and the bet will be lost.

     The setup sounds simple enough, but things quickly get complicated—especially since each vampire is just dying to quench her thirst

 Genre: horror; supernatural

Rating: 3/5

 The Good:

  • It is R.L. Stine so we're talking about a story that is going to hold as a horror story rather than a romance no matter how much the plot seems to be veering that way. It's a bit refreshing that the vampires in this are still a threat and never some romantic entity. 
  • It's a pretty decent horror story. Or actually two horror stories. And the second one actually took me a while to catch on to rather than being able to figure out the twist at once. 
The Bad:
  • I think the problems I had with the book had more to do with the packaging of it than actual problems in writing. The book is presented as though it is a teenage level romance (I mean look at the cover), so I was expecting a higher writing level I guess. These would actually probably be more appropriate middle school level than anything else. 
  • The stories just didn't interest me all that much, maybe because they were written more on a middle school level and just not geared for an older reader in spite of the cover.  
The Verdict:
The book isn't bad and younger readers who like really scary stuff would probably not mind it, but it just wasn't the best thing I've read in a while. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby

Quiet, unpopular, non-cheerleading Mia is blissfully happy. She is dating super hot football god Rob, and he actually likes her and asked her to prom! Enter Samantha?cheerleading goddess and miss popularity? who starts making a move for Rob. With prom in a few days, Mia needs to act fast. So she turns to her best friend, Candice, and decides to do a love spell on Rob. Unfortunately, she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class, making herself their leader! At first she is flattered that everyone is treating her like a queen. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up, because in a few days, Mia will be the first course in their new diet. She?s sure she and Chase can figure something out, but she suggests that no one wear white to prom, because things could get very messy.


Genre: humor; supernatural

Rating: 4/5

The good:
  • Charmingly quirky characters dash around trying to prevent a zombie apocalypse while still going to prom. The book is darn cute. The situations alternately funny and peril filled. Mia isn't helpless, but she certainly doesn't know what she's doing. Chase is a nice guy trying to help misguided Mia. Candice, the hypochondriac best friend might steal the show as she downs vitamins and is convinced she has leprosy and various other ailments.
  • Mia is thankfully unannoying. She isn't helpless, just in over her head. And her plight in wanting the star football player to take her to prom is understandable.
  • Rob is vapid but nice, a welcome change from "unsuitable" romantic interests who make you wonder why they girl ever was interested in them if they had two grey cells to rub together. 
The bad:
  • It's a light read. This isn't a book that's going to win writing prizes, but it's a fun, humorous read. 
The verdict:
Excellent book for kids wanting an enjoyable, not too heavy read. Great for reluctant readers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame- Smith

Indiana, 1818. Moonlight falls through the dense woods that surround a one-room cabin, where a nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln kneels at his suffering mother's bedside. She's been stricken with something the old-timers call "Milk Sickness."

"My baby boy..." she whispers before dying.

Only later will the grieving Abe learn that his mother's fatal affliction was actually the work of a vampire.

When the truth becomes known to young Lincoln, he writes in his journal, "henceforth my life shall be one of rigorous study and devotion. I shall become a master of mind and body. And this mastery shall have but one purpose..." Gifted with his legendary height, strength, and skill with an ax, Abe sets out on a path of vengeance that will lead him all the way to the White House.

While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.


Genre: horror; historical fantasy

Rating: 4/5

The bad:
  • The premise is a bit to get over. If you can separate yourself from the fact that one of the best known presidents is being presented as a hunter of evil vampires, you're better off.
  • Abraham Lincoln isn't always a very dynamic character. You understand that the Great Emancipator hates the undead, but you don't always connect with him. He does a lot of unwarranted moping.
The good:
  • Believe it or not, the history is pretty accurate, save for the vampire hunting part. Grahame-Smith has obviously done some research here. So much so that when I went to catalog the book for the library, it wanted to put it in nonfiction, to which I laughed as I adamantly replaced the tag with fiction.
  • The book is suitably gory and won't disappoint horror fans. Lincoln doesn't always win and the vampires are actually very believably integrated into history. 
  • It's an easy read. The action keeps up and there are doctored pictures that make the book look more authentic. 
Verdict: For a piece of speculative fiction, this was fun and a good horror story. Honest Abe made a surprisingly good action hero. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

For years, Old Gregory has been the Spook for the county, ridding the local villages of evil. Now his time is coming to an end, but who will take over for him? Twenty-nine apprentices have tried--some floundered, some fled, some failed to stay alive. Only Thomas Ward is left. He's the last hope--the last apprentice.


Genre: fantasy; supernatural

Rating: 4/5

 The Good
  • The peril is believable. All the monsters that Tom comes up against seem believably terrifying. Granted, this is more a junior high book, so there is a limit to how scary it actually gets, but Tom is very understandably in a dangerous job.
  • The conflict over what Spooks actually do is well done. Their job is terrifying and deals with things that scare people, therefore people are legitimately scared of them. It starts with Gregory explaining his strained relationship with his brother and continues as Tom starts to come in conflict with his own brother leading to a rather heartbreaking split with his family.
  • Tom makes good sense most of the time. Even his failure with feeding the witch he didn't carry through the whole way, a mistake that a lot of writers will have a character do (having them continue doing something obviously stupid even when it becomes obvious to the character that it's stupid). 
  • Alice is a nice neutral character. She's not bad per se and she's not good. She just is and has her destiny in her own hands. She's like a lot of us, the great grey area.
The Not So Good
  • I sort of got bored with it. I understand that this is written for younger readers, but there were times that I kept thinking "I just have to finish this book", not because it was compulsively readable, but because I knew it read fast. 
  • I didn't like Tom's mother. There is obviously more back story with her, but she basically locks her son into a horribly dangerous career that will isolate him and make him a social pariah without telling him much about it or giving him a choice. Then acts like he's being unreasonable when he tries to reject that outcome. For all the "Alice can choose her own fate" business, Tom certainly doesn't have a lot of choice about his. 
  • There isn't a whole lot of detail. I understand again that this book is for a lower reading level, but there wasn't a lot of explanation about a lot of things. 
Not a bad book, but I do hope the series expands from this one.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Monster Hunter's Handbook by Ibrahim Amin

In this incomparable and fully illustrated compendium, classicist Ibrahim Amin reintroduces the ancient art of monster hunting to a whole new generation of intrepid warriors. From a hellhound's three-headed assault to a brain-eating zombie attack, The Monster Hunter's Handbook instructs readers in the background of each creature and the dangers each present. It also includes an impressive catalog of the premodern world's most powerful armament.


Genre: nonfiction; monsters

Rating: 3/5

This book has a lovely cover and while it's a bit more juvenile in content than I originally expected, it has moved off the shelves in the library at a very fast pace. The students love it. The illustrations are nice, though maybe not as colorful as some other monster books. What I did really like is that there are references at the end of each section if someone really wanted to look up source material. There is also a large section of mythical weapons in this book too, which was something different not normally covered in monster books and probably the thing I found the most unique about this book.

While for me this was a rather basic book of monsters and I've read more interesting ones, this has been very popular with the kids, so maybe as an introduction this book is appealing.