Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Packing... lots of books

   As we prep for a cross-country move, I realize just how many books have accumulated over our 16 years at this address, not even counting the many books that have come, been read, and gone on to greener pastures. Not surprisingly, the piles of boxes filled with yet-to-be-read books thrills me, while the equally large pile of other items leaves me wondering how we fritter our money away.
   I will never feel that way about books, though... never. They provide our family with a constant flow of joy, and I look forward to the unpacking of the many treasures tomes.
   As we drive away into the sunset, we leave behind our favorite local bookstore... not a large, big name chain, but rather a small, intimate neighborhood store that has been a part of our lives since my children were babies. It was there that their love of reading was born.
   This store is Cover to Cover (a bookstore for young people), and I yell its praises from the mountain-side, upon which I soon will live. Will I go to the large chain stores and on-line dealers for my books now, since we will be living half a continent away? Sometimes. But, thank goodness for the internet, and the knowledge that I can still order some new and exciting books from people I now call friends.
   Thanks for all the years of wonderful books, Cover to Cover. We look forward to many more. Oh, and thanks for the boxes.

Review: Entwined

 Entwined, by Heather Dixon, is a lush retelling of the classic fairy tale, the Twelve Dancing Princesses, that hits all the right marks. The story is about twelve princesses, focusing on the eldest, crown princess Azalea. The story takes place in the year of mourning after their mother, the queen, dies. When  the girls discover a secret passage that leads to a magical silver forest, they are thrilled and come to dance there every night. But they slowly realize that the mysterious Keeper who lives in the silver forest means deadly harm.
     I really liked the descriptions in this book. They were rich and vivid, and  I could  picture every gorgeous setting. Azalea, the main character, is the kind of heroine I like. Smart, resourceful, and fiercely loyal to her sisters. All of the princess's had distinct and endearing personalities, making it easy to tell them apart. Though the tone in this book was fairly light, there were darker moments of real peril mixed in to keep the pages turning. There were lots of funny characters for comic relief (like Lord Teddy) and a sweet romance that will leave you with a big smile on your face. In short, Entwined is a beautiful fairy tale filled with rustling skirts, magic gone wrong, and delightful characters. Read it!


Sunday, May 22, 2011


   In honor of yesterday's anti-climactic Rapture, I thought I would review Gone, by Michael Grant. This is a romp through a world where a rapture of sorts has taken place in the blink of an eye, just like many people imagined loopy Harold Camping's Rapture would be. In the world of Gone, though, only those 15 years old and above disappear, leaving the young ones behind to deal with a world where nothing is normal.
   Part apocalyptic, part mini-X-Men, Gone is tawdry and disjointed. Immediately and predictably, the children left behind fall into the categories of the good guys and the bad guys, many with weird special powers that threaten to topple the world that the Chosen One will have to reassemble. There is a definite religious undercurrent throughout, with not-so-subtle hints in the names of many of the character: Caine, Mother Mary and Brother John, and the hero, Sam Temple, not to mention twins separated at birth--one good, one bad.
   I would have found the concept of the world-without-adults more interesting without the addition of talking animals and some weird cave-dwelling Darkness, reminiscent of LOST's Smoke Monster confusing things. Too many tangents makes the character development weak, and I found myself not caring what would become of those left to fend for themselves and each-other. LOST this most definitely is not.... nor is it rapturous reading.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My review of "City of Fallen Angels"

       City of Fallen Angels, by Cassandra Clare is the fourth installment in an awesome fantasy series for young adults. I have always liked Cassandra Clare's writing, as well as the humor she includes in her books, and City of Fallen Angels did not disappoint. Though, I feel that the series could have easily ended at the conclusion of the last book, City of Glass, and this fourth book felt a little unnecessary; I love these books, so I shouldn't complain. I enjoyed reading chapters from Simon's perspective, (if you haven't read the previous books you won't know who he is, and I'm not going to spoil it for you--just read the books!) and I like how there was a bit more of a focus on Alec and Magnus's relationship.
    The action was exciting and the pace quick. I do have a complaint, though. This book seemed a little too angsty, especially Jace. Angst can be a good thing, but I feel there was too much: "I don't deserve your love, Clary," followed by: "okay,  maybe I do," and ending with: "Never mind!!! I spoke too soon! I'm a miserable human, you're too good for me!" Well, maybe that is a little exaggerated, but I seriously felt like smacking dear Jace upside the head at times. Still, overall, this was a good read, and I definitely recommend this to fans of the series. I'm looking forward to the next one.


   If you've ever imagined, as a child, what it would be like to survive on a raft on a stormy sea (a blanket under the table), or stranded in a lonely cabin (a pillow fort--under the same table), then this story might be what you would imagine if you still played that game as a teen. Trapped, by Michael Northrop, is a an imaginative romp through a world gone wrong.
   In a time when dystopia novels are all the rage, this little book--at only 240 pages, it felt very short---Trapped tackles a world where it won't stop snowing. Think the New England winter of 2010-2011, on steroids. Oh, and our characters are in a high school, so of course not even frigid weather can turn off hormones and teen angst.
   Since the book was so short, I felt that the story had a lot of ground to cover, and I was left wanting a more complete resolution at the end. I did look forward to discovering what new problem would arise for these kids trapped in the school, but once the problem did arrive--and it always did--I was left wanting more.
   It kept me reading though, and if you you fancy a ride back on that blanket raft, give this one a go.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: City of Fallen Angels

   City of Fallen Angels, Cassandra Clare's latest Mortal Instruments installment continues to broaden the path  set down in the previous books, allowing secondary characters time to blossom and become favorites. With a movie of the popular first book, City of Bones, on the horizon, fans will be eating this one up.
   Clare writes with humor and clarity, really letting the characters be the driving force behind the action and the angst that inevitably becomes a part of a world inhabited by sexy Shadowhunters, reluctant vampires, father-figure werewolves, and demons whose blood splatters in every imaginable color. In the midst of it all is a sweet love story, of course. Also, Jace Wayland has to be one of the most appealing characters out there, with his enviable, rakish sense of humor, and paradoxically cynical narcissism.
All in all, City of Fallen Angels left me wondering how far down the path of sequels Clare is going to take this series, but I imagine I will enjoy every minute.