Saturday, July 16, 2011
High schooler Rin Okumura has always known he was a little different, what with his short temper and unnatural strength, but somehow his and his fraternal twin brother Yukio's adopted father Fujimoto always made him feel accepted anyway. At least until he starts seeing things nobody else sees and becomes the target of recruitment attacks from creatures of the underworld looking to bring him home...to his real father.... Finding out that one is literally a son of Satan would be difficult at any age, but doing so at fifteen is just rough. Rin barely has time to wrap his head around the truth before reality strikes those he loves and he has to choose a future path.
The art in this action series works well, as do the characters, but the story's a little choppy, jumping from scene to scene, and tone to tone, without transition. We're not given enough opportunity to see why we should like or care about Rin before we're expected to feel for him (in fact, we get to know enigmatic Yukio better than the main character). I'm currently watching the animé adaptation of this series and it does a better job of fleshing him out and showing his innate kindness and internal motivation along with his rash temper, as well as more skillfully connecting the dramatic and comedic elements. I'll give the books a few more volumes and see if they start to smooth out those emotional transitions, otherwise I might just stick with the (unusually) more involving animated adaptation.
Kojirô, Ittôsai, and their new hanger-on Musô Gonnosuke seek out the battlefield at Sekigahara in order to further test their mettle and quench their thirst for self-actualization via the sword. But they've come a little late to the party and most of the surviving participants have left, leaving a landscape of disillusioning firearm- and archery-induced death behind. But there's at least one antsy steel-wielding warrior still scouring the field for a proper fight....
And so we arrive back where we began, at the battle of Sekigahara where Musashi (then still just Takezô) and Matahachi (before he stole Kojirô's name) fail to satisfy their desire for greatness. Watching Ittôsai egg on dillydallying soldiers just for the chance to cross bloody swords is both disturbing and amusing. But watching Takezô and Kojirô instinctively fight back-to-back without knowing a thing about one another--other than that they're two beasts sewn from the same cloth--is just kewl. They'll meet again someday, I'm certain, and then the cosmos will just have to pause and watch in awe along with the rest of us as the sparks fly.
Kamui tries to carry on with as normal a life as he can while he and the other Seals wait for the Harbingers to make a move.
Subaru can't help but see the similarities between his and Seishiro's relationship and that of Kamui and Fuma. I just hope it doesn't distract him from doing whatever needs to be done in the future. It's good to see Kamui making new, non-fate-of-the-world-relevant friends, but I worry they'll just give his enemies one more way to hurt him. Again, nothing much "happens" in this volume, but we get to watch the Seals interact a little off the field of battle, which is nice in its own way.
Instructor Komaki gets arrested on suspicion of abusing a person with disabilities, but his colleagues--especially the insightful females--know better than to believe that.
Ok, so this volume goes a little overboard with the cheesy. I'll forgive it, because it just is what it is, but I hope future ones don't swing quite so far into embarrassingly fluffy melodrama as this one. I still like it and want to see how the librarians with guns fend off the censoring feds and their servile minions and how Iku and Dojo work out their little unacknowledged romance, but I can do without the awkward attempts to take obvious schmaltz seriously.
Tamaki is ecstatic to be invited to live in the main mansion with his paternal grandmother (who also heads the family's corporate empire), but he soon discovers that the conditions of his acceptance--and her reasons for them--are painful. What's to become of the Host Club and its little family? And what of Haruhi, whose social status makes her unfit (and endangered) company for a proper Suoh heir?
Ah, there appear to be more secrets in Tamaki's and Haruhi's family backgrounds than we thought! The Host Club won't take disbandment--or a break-up of the their family--lying down. They stick together and they stick up for one another, even when they're pushed away, so if there's any dirt out there to dig up, they'll find it. Ooh, I hate to see Tamaki's loving, protective nature used against him like this. I detest the controlling adults in his life! The only time we've ever seen him angry is when he's made to worry about someone he cares about. I hope his grandma and his dad and anyone else abusing his trust for their own ends find themselves on the receiving end of his righteous ire soon. A Tamaki smack-down would be a glorious sight to see. Of course, we'll be laughing at him three panels later, but that's just part of what makes him so lovable both to his friends and to the reader.
Tokine is brought in for questioning about the incident with the guardian deity, but something about the investigation's handling smells fishy. While she tries to figure out who, if anyone, on the investigation unit's headquarters island to trust, Yoshimori puts together his own team of trusted companions to break her out, first by the rules...and then by whatever means necessary.
The Shawshank Redemption allusions are pretty funny, as is the smooth, snarky, newest addition to the gang. It will be fun to see how his and Yoshimori's personalities get along. Just more reason for Tokine to roll her eyes and me to giggle. Also, one more endearing character's well-being to worry over. I so enjoy these.
Another being has arrived and threatened the Karasumori mystical site, but this is no ayakashi--it's another site's guardian deity...which are illegal to destroy. How are Yoshimori and Tokine supposed to protect their charge, and one another, if they can't fight back effectively against their attacker? And what will be the consequences if they choose to break the law in self defense?
The poor kids try to prevail with only olive branches, but the recent attacks on mystical sites have been messing with the souls of their deities, too, spinning things out of control and subverting the natural order. The defenders do what they have to do, but no one, including them, is happy about it. With the danger, and its consequences, hitting so close to home, the need to discover who or what really lies at the root of all the troubles is even greater.
In an alternate near-future Chicago, Beatrice Prior is preparing for the day she must choose in which of society's five strictly delineated factions she wishes to live the rest of her life. Growing up in Abnegation, the faction of selflessness, she has long fought with the concept of what she wants versus what her family or society wants or needs her to be. What does she value above all else? If not selflessness, then Candor's honesty, Erudite's intelligence, Amity's peacefulness, or Dauntless's courage? It doesn't help that the psychological test meant to help her decide her fate only reveals her to be more intrinsically conflicted and uncategorizable...and also more likely to end up dead if anyone finds out. As she moves forward, Beatrice's choices, and her secrets, will affect much more than just her own moral compass as the artificially rigid fabric of society is tested by the inevitable anomaly that is true human nature.
Divergent is a surprisingly satisfying teen dystopian novel. The characters are sympathetic, the action fast-paced, the world-building imaginative and well-defined, and the drama dark but not weighed down by excessive angst. It's everything I liked about Hunger Games before it became so soul-crushingly heavy. Granted, this one could go that direction, too, but I sense a little more hope and optimism here. Also, Beatrice--or Tris, as she comes to call herself--seems less likely to huddle in a closet, trying to hide from her own mind than HG's Katniss. My only complaint so far is that having a character named "Four" has caused me to have to go back and reread a good many lines in order to make that read as a proper noun and not just the first word of a sentence. :P
I would like the next book now, please. *sigh*
Friday, July 15, 2011
I just completed reading The Maltese Falcon. I figured if it is going to be our Big Read for next spring, I had better get head start on it. I am getting ready to watch the movie as well. I did like the novel, however, it was almost the same plot as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" movie or even as similar as any of the Dick Tracey's.
Sam Spade and Miles Archer are our detectives who own the agency. Miles gets himself killed on a case of hunting for a bird statue and Sam decides to find out who killed his partner and why, along with the reason why this bird is being looked for by so many criminals.
Sam runs into several mastermind criminals along the way while trying to get to this bird statue (including a gorgeous liar who he believes he is falling for). So far thee have been three murders....
Is this statue worth getting yourself into trouble for and/or possibly getting yourself killed?
I did like this story line, but it is from the 40's, so that will give you some sort of idea where the conversations and plot of this novel are coming from; a whole different perspective than today's mysteries you read or see on tv.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith
Yes, this one might seem like it's another paranormal, girl who sees ghosts but finds a guy who loves her anyway story-at least that's what I thought going into it. But instead I was surprised to find a story about race, history, and forgiveness-and OK, ghosts too. Honestly, I wasn't that impressed and I felt the story was a bit muddy throughout, but the last 50 pages totally made up for everything and made me really appreciate this book. I think it could lead to some great discussions for book clubs and I really liked that it featured multiracial characters and dealt with race relations and history in a way I haven't read before.
The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway
About the Book: Three sisters about to embark on a new journey in life-new school, new home, and new magic powers. When April, May and June discover that they aren't totally normal and have superhero-like magic powers, the school year turns even more interesting. Can they use their powers for good?
Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I'm still not sure what I thought of this one. It's like chick lit with superpowers. It's a light, breezy novel which I liked. I really liked all three sisters, although I think May was my favorite because of her snarky, sarcastic attitude and comebacks-seriously, I want her witty remarks! The banter between all three sisters was fun and what made me really like this book. I think I expected more though, which made me not like it as much as I could have. It's a book about three sisters who gain superpowers which help them get boyfriends and confidence and popularity. I thought they'd end up using their powers for something bigger-the big climax of the book just fell a bit flat for me. But it's still a lot of fun and very humorous and I'd give it to fans of Sarah Mlynowski's Magic In Manhattan series or Meg Cabot's Jinx.
Great book! I learned more about Korea in this work of fiction than I ever knew before. I learned about naming ceremonies, Christianity in Korea, traditional upbringing of Korean yangban (aristocratic) families and much more. I loved the main character and her mother, railed against her father and brother, worried that her husband wouldn't be good enough and so on. You know it's a good story when you care so much about what happens to the characters.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Ron invites Harry to join his family for the summer and a trip to the Quidditch World Cup. The excitement of the game is eclipsed by Muggle baiting and the appearance of the Dark Mark. These are only portents of things to come. When Harry arrives back at Hogwarts, the school is swept up in the excitement surrounding the Triwizard Tournament. However, Harry suspects someone might be using the tournament to lure him into danger.
This is one of my favorite books in the series, because so much happens. I love the rich details and all the new characters. Rowling really expands her world, and Harry comes to a better understanding of his place and importance in it.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Lola lives in San Francisco with her two dads, her dog, her wonderful boyfriend, an awesome job at a movie theater, and the memory of something horrible that happened with the next-door neighbors. All in all life is pretty perfect - until the neighbors come back. Lola's world (and heart) start to rocket around like a roller coaster as she figures out who she is and who she wants to be with.
So this is the companion novel to "Anna and the French Kiss" (which I ABSOLUTELY ADORED!). I don't understand why it can be so hard to find a really good readin' book sometimes, but if Stephanie Perkins wrote more, I wouldn't have a problem. Lola is fleshed-out, her problems are relatable, and San Francisco sounds beautiful. After tearing through "Anna," I was a little bummed that I would be leaving this awesome world. But thank goodness Anna went to school in San Fran so we could meet the lovely Lola and the even lovelier Cricket (if only I could have a nattily-dressed gentleman caller in real life...).
1) This reminded me so much of Glee that I kept internally referring to Jessa as Rachel.
2) The story was a little disjointed. As soon as she'd grow a bit, she'd close down and would be back to square one.
3) I liked most of the characters because of my lovely theatre upbringing, and I LOVED the theatre references, but oh. My. GOSH! Get over yourselves, please and thanks!
Verdict: If you want an ok read before the upcoming season of Glee, pick it up. Otherwise... meh.
The second volume in the Kingkiller Chronicles, Wise Man's Fear doesn't disappoint. Kvothe the Bloodless still keeps us engrossed in his trials at the University, his travels and battles, and his star-crossed relationship with the elusive Denna.
The framework story of Kote the innkeeper, Bast the fey creature and Chronicler is also getting more complex and fraught with dangers unknown at this point. Score another tour de force for Patrick Rothfuss. I am anxiously awaiting the next volume in the trilogy.
Monday, July 11, 2011
About the book: This book is the eleventh book the series and continues the story of a lawyer, called Paul Madriani. In this book a Mexican assassin Liquida has a vendetta against Madriani and his partner. To stop him, Madriani starts following Liquida's last client Thorn. The client is hired to organize a terrorist attack against the judges of the Supreme Court.
My Opinion: I really like this book because the plot is very complicated. I like how in the beginning of the book the author follows each main character separately. I can't wait until I read the next book of the series.
Ignatius Perrish is having a rough year. Merrin, the love of his life, was brutally murdered and while there is nothing linking him to the crime most of the town is certain he did it. So, when he wakes up in a drunken stupor with no memory of the night previous, Ig is certain he's just imagining the horns growing out of his head. Soon he discovers that with his new head accessories comes new powers. People start telling him things-how they really feel about him and also, what they really know. Determined to find the real killer Ig starts a journey of revenge and personal transformation. For, as we all know, the devil is in the details. (oh, you knew I was going there.)
Joe Hill is also on my short list of authors that are automatic purchases. Feel free to analyze me-it is great fun. He has said that horror is rooted in sympathy...in understanding what it would be like to suffer the worst. His books have that gift of touching that base humanity in the reader while scaring the bejesus out of you. Horns is a character driven novel told mostly from the viewpoint of Ig with flashbacks to his life growing up as well as flashbacks told from the viewpoint of other characters. Part mystery, part horror, part commentary on life, love and religion, Horns is the kind of read that will make you wax poetic about the nature of good and evil with your best friend at the bar on a Saturday night. 2010, 370 pages.
In Walls of Water, North Carolina strange things are afoot. Paxton Osgood, local good girl who still lives with her parents and is the president of the Women's Society Club has everyone fooled that she can do anything. Renovations on the stunning Blue Ridge Madam into a B&B are almost complete and Paxton is determined to have the 75th anniversary of the club celebration there.
Willa Jackson, part of the Jackson family that used to own the Blue Ridge Madam, has returned to Walls of Water and is trying to lead a quiet life that her father would have been proud of. Her reputation as a prankster in high school follows her constantly. When a body is found under a peach tree on the grounds of the mansion, Paxton and Willa join forces to find out the identity of the body and perhaps find a way to break out of the self-made molds they are living in.
Sarah Addison Allen has become an automatic purchase for me. As my first boss and queen of readers' advisory taught me-there are some books that you just know you want to read again in retirement. Indeed. Allen wraps together an intriguing mystery with raw, emotional characters with a touch of magic in a southern package that is hard to resist. Light, easy and by the end you usually have a happy sigh and want to eat a cupcake. Did I really just say that? Yes, yes I did. That is the ultimate compliment I can pay to an author. Peach Keeper isn't her best but the elements that have garnered her many fans are there. 2011, 288 pages.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Cold Wind is one of C.J. Box's best -- with more twists and turns than any of the others. I couldn't wait to finish this one. Joe Pickett discovers the body of his mother-in-law's husband and soon after his mother-in-law, Missy, is accused of the murder. Despite the animosity between Missy and Joe, Joe's wife convinces him he must work to clear her of the accusation. As with other Joe Pickett novels, this one combines a detailed but well-developed plot; dry, Western humor and twists and turns that leave the reader/listener unable to stop reading until the last page is finished.
This was the first Box title I have listened to; narrator David Chandler didn't quite pull off the role of game warden Joe Pickett as well as I would have liked and I found his narration of female characters somewhat annoying. But that's okay -- as long as Box keeps writing Joe Pickett mysteries, I'll keep reading them. And occasionally listening to them.
"I'm alive today because I was grounded." So starts 12-year-old Daralynn's story of why she remains alive after her father, sister and brother were killed when a plane piloted by her father crashed. The loss has transformed her mother into a bitter, angry woman who begins her own business as a hair stylist for the local funeral home after everyone admires the wonderful job she's done on her children and husband for their funerals. When Mr. Clem, a stranger with plans to build a crematorium, appears in town, the funeral home's continued success -- and Mother's job there -- is threatened, and Daralynn decides to take action. Her idea to host "living funerals" is successful, but only results in more competition for the funeral home and a growing distrust of Mr. Clem, who is as successful at courting Daralynn's aunt as he is in convincing the town folk that cremation is the wave of the future.
Daralynn's voice is wonderful and convincing, and Klise's setting and storytelling are reminiscent of Richard Peck's wonderful books about small towns and the characters who populate them. I loved this book and read it in one setting. Klise has created a fully-formed town, charming and engaging characters and a story full of humor, mystery and good, old-fashioned storytelling. For a book about the death of one young girl's parent and siblings, Klise manages to keep the reader engaged in Daralynn's loneliness, development and growth with humor and wit. I think this is Klise's best book so far, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys storytelling on par with "A Long Way from Chicago" and "Moon Over Manifest."
I loved this book -- I think maybe even more than "The Mockingbirds," but then again, it's almost like comparing apples and oranges, so I won't. Erskine's writing is just as good here, though, as with her last book, and she again manages to make readers fall in love with the quirky characters and humorous plot. I have read three really terrific middle grade novels in a row, each with three similar characteristics -- warm, small town settings filled with quirky characters, laugh-out-loud stories and children finding guidance, love and friendship from people around them.
(2007 | 240 p)
I read this on the recommendation of a good friend. She's an avid manga reader and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about! I don't know if Mushishi is indicative of other manga, but it definitely left me open to the possibility of reading more. Especially now that I've figured out how to read them (it's not as simple as reading them backward).
These stories revolve around the idea that there are ancient spirits that live in the world along side humans, these spirits are called Mushi. Most people can't see them and for the most part the Mushi are harmless, but at times their existence does come to cross purposes with their human neighbors. That's when the Mushishi steps in. A Mushishi is a human whose life purpose is to maintain the balance between humans and Mushi, a Mushi master. The Mushishi in this story is Ginko. Ginko steps in to untangle any Mushi/human encounters, and to offer insights into the world of the Mushi.
This was a very pretty book and much fun to read. I'd recommend it to anyone who is curious about manga!