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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni - Helene Wecker

New York city would be a culture shock to any immigrant back in 1899, but to Chava and Ahmad it's far worse.

The golem was brought to life while she was still at sea with her owner, who ends dying during the voyage. With nobody to lead her, she is completely lost and at the mercy of the desires of the people around her. After several unlucky incidents she's finally saved by a Rabbi who recognizes her for what she is and names her Chava. He does his best to educate her in the ways of the world, but even he can't protect her forever.

Ahmad was free to roam the desert back in his time, but now because of the spell of the lamp he is trapped by the confines of the city and nearly powerless. The tinsmith who discovered him decides to house and hire him, but their relationship is bound to be a struggle.

When Chava and Ahmad meet they recognize each other for something other than human immediately. Their friendship blossoms upon realizing they can finally be themselves around each other because they both carry the burden of this same secret. Just as things finally seem to be going right both of their pasts catch up with them. Chava's creator has come to reclaim her and Ahmad's captor has finally managed to track him down after hundreds of years.

I was enthralled with both Chava and Ahmad. Their unique circumstances and challenges made both of them interesting to read about. Their plots entwined at the end in a fascinating way and the final conclusion was amazing. I looked forward to listening to this every morning and every afternoon during my commute.

Recommended Reads:
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dexter's Final Cut - Jeff Lindsay

Dexter's disguise just got much more complicated. With a budding know-it-all teenage girl and a fresh infant, he and Rita are struggling to stay sane. And his job as a blood splatter analyst has gotten messier now that he has to educate a visiting television star with a weak stomach. His sister, Deborah, isn't much happier with her own tag along premadonna shadowing her every step and expression. After deciphering the similarities between this case and several others, he determines the person responsible is revving up to attack the actress assigned to Deborah. Now he's given the additional stress of acting as a body guard and no time for himself. But maybe he can find another hobby to indulge in to make up for his lack of night time activity.

Can Dexter protect the actress from this serial killer? How is his family coping with his absence? Can Cody and Astor keep their demons at bay without his guidance?

Dexter's observational point of view and limited emotional range is fascinating to me and it has stayed consistent throughout the series. The story itself wasn't as interesting to me as some of the previous books. I didn't feel that there was much mystery in who the perpetrator was; in fact, I figured it out way in the beginning of the novel. The cliffhanger, however, is enough to keep me around for another book.

Books in the series:
Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Dearly Devoted Dexter
Dexter in the Dark

Friday, February 21, 2014

No post today

Sorry dear readers, but there will be no review today. Although I have 4 books finished, I just haven't had the time to write reviews with my job currently being so busy. I'll be back on Monday, though.

Thank you for continuing to stop by!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Child Thief - Brom

Kids at school and around the neighborhood are bullying Nick and to top it off his mom buys him the wrong pair of sneakers. He decides his only course of action is to run away with the little bit of money he has. His plan goes awry when he encounters the bullies in the park; luckily, Peter jumps in and offers him an opportunity for a new home with no rules and lots of friends. After the ordeal with the bullies, Nick decides Peter would probably be a good ally to have around. But Nick will realize there are things far worse than receiving a bad pair of sneakers and dealing with bullies.

To begin with, the journey through the mist to get to Avalon is a complete disaster. When he arrives, he finds the food bland and the other kids unreasonable. But even worse, he finds himself in the middle of a war.

Like many people, I fondly remember many versions of Peter Pan like the one from Disney, cartoons, and many theater adaptions. When I finally read the original novel by J. M. Barrie I realized, like many fairy tales, it had been adapted to be more enjoyable to children, while becoming more palatable for their parents.

Brom brings the wild character of Peter Pan to an adult audience by including cursing, betrayal, torture, and even death. Peter isn't mischievous, but he is wild and conniving. Readers will learn of Peter's history and how he became the infamous Child Thief.

Source Material:
Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie

Friday, February 14, 2014

Batwoman: World's Finest - J.H. Williams III

Katherine Kane's life is falling apart. Her secret identity as Batwoman prevents her from being honest with her girlfriend, Maggie. When Kate continually refuses to come clean about the events of a specific night, Maggie decides she's had enough and announces she won't invite Kate back into her life until she can do so. As Batwoman she finds herself quickly losing allies over what they deem poor choices, including her father and cousin who were previously helping her in the vigilante justice.

Despite the tragedy in her personal life, Batwoman, continues to seek the answers to reuniting hundreds of children back to their families in Gotham from the organization Medusa. Wonderwoman turns out to be exactly the ally she needs in solving the string of crimes. The Amazon has a hunch on where to begin their search. After several dangerous encounters, they finally get the information they need and return to Gotham to bring the mysterious Medusa to justice.

I am always pleased with the layouts and artwork of this particular series. I enjoyed watching all of the pieces come together in issues in these issues. Wonderwoman was a great inclusion in this plotline, as were the many familiar monsters from Greco-Roman mythos.

Books in the Series:
Drown the World

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Fiery Heart - Richelle Mead

The taboos carried in Alchemist society are many. After being stationed and charged with protecting Moroi royalty, Sydney Sage can't help growing close to the vampires despite the warnings against their dark nature. She decides to date Adrian, a Moroi with spirit abilities, and tries her best to keep it secret.

Her personal life isn't the only thing Sydney is keeping hidden, though. She has to keep her study of magic private at the risk of the Alchemists discovering her breach of taboo. Could magic and not alchemy hold the key to making the world safer from Strigoi?

To make matters worse, her parents are divorcing and now she is being forced to choose sides in a custody battle for her younger sister. While she knows the Alchemist organization provides her sister with opportunities she could never have otherwise, she knows that being with their mother is probably the best for her being.

At first I was uncertain of how I felt with the swapping point of view between Sydney and Adrian for each chapter, but I enjoyed it after a while. Adrian's voice gave additional introspection on his character and on their relationship, which, I felt, was very much needed. I still don't understand Rose's or Sydney's attraction to him, but I understand him as a character much more now.

I was disappointed in this novel for a number of reasons. While I enjoyed the character development and relationship building, the main focus of this book, it did little to really move the plot line of the overarching series. One of the original appeals to me for the Bloodlines was that Mead actually used a bit of chemistry when creating alchemy formulas (alchemy is, in fact, the forebearer of modern chemistry). Unfortunately, she seems to be abandoning it in favor of magic because it doesn't require explanations.

It was an okay read and I plan to finish the series out. I just didn't enjoy this one as much as I have some of the other ones.

Books in the Series:
The Golden Lily
The Indigo Spell

Recommended Reads:
Vampire Academy - Richelle Mead
Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
My Soul to Take - Rachel Vincent
The Iron Thorn - Caitlin Kittredge

Friday, February 7, 2014

Insurgent - Veronica Roth

The Abnegation faction is completely destroyed after the attack and the Dauntless are scattered. Now Tris, Four, and surviving members of both factions must find a way to hide from the Erudite. Hiding among the Amity, Candor and even among the factionless, they try to plan against Jeanine Matthews, who is set on seize control of what remains of their civilization.

Evelyn, Four's long lost mother, and Marcus, Four's abusive father, both appear as possible allies to the cause. With the family's history, Four is reluctant to ally with either of them, but he knows without their help he will not be able to overthrow Jeanine. Tris has the same dilemma. While trying to lead the charge, they have to fight their internal demons and keep their relationship intact.

I originally listened to the first book, Divergent, back in 2011, so it had been a while since I had visited this dystopia. After seeing the trailer for the new movie, I decided to pick up the second installment in the series. Unfortunately, this second novel simply served to remind me why I chose not to continue the series in the first place.

On a surface level, the author figured out how the system of the five factions would work to keep society going, but more detailed features of every day life just aren't fleshed out enough to make it believable. The two main characters, Tris and Four, are formulaic and uninteresting as is their relationship. Tris is supposed to have features from three different factions, and the other characters and Tris, the narrator, are constantly reminding the reader of this, but the author fails to really show what sets Tris apart from everybody else in this sequel or its original. This book also suffers from a common pitfall of many middle books, where a whole lot of events happen but very few of these events add to the plot or the character development. And finally, the climax reveal at the very end turns out to be exactly what I expected.

This series doesn't do the theme justice, and I'd highly suggest skipping it in favor of one of its many predecessors.

Recommended Reads:
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

Recommended Viewing:
The Village
The Truman Show

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Ant God - Kelton Drew Earl

Driving down the highway all alone can be pretty lonely, even with the radio there to keep you company. When the DJ announces a contest, the narrator decides to give it a try. He wins an interview with an angel. Even the DJ isn't sure what this means, but, sure enough an angel comes to his door explaining that he has two hours to ask all of the questions he can bring to mind.

Like many of us, Earl first wants to see proof of the angel's divinity. But once that is proven, he finds himself ill-prepared and uncertain of what to ask. What revelations could Earl possibly learn in such a short time? The questions come to his mind slowly at first, but he soon finds himself feverishly taking notes. What is God like? What religion is the right one? How does one lead a fulfilling and virtuous life? And why would the angel call him "Ant God"?

The first person narrative made it easy for me to fall into the narrator's thought patterns and share in his revelations. I like how the author seemlessly merged his later research to his current revelations during the interview with the angel. Many people will find their eyes opened with the information on scripture and new world views. Earl's personal revelations are effectively expressed through his interview with an angel. I think many readers will find themselves moved to do their own research and seek out answers for themselves.

Recommended Reads:
The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Ishmael - Daniel Quinn

Recommended Viewing:
Futurama: Godfellas (Season 4, Episode 8)
The Matrix