Archive for the ‘4 Cupcakes’ Category

Bookathon: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Starting time: 12:05
Ending time: 3:58 PM

Title: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm
Author: Nancy Farmer
Genre: Near-future sf/f
Pages: 301

Summary: Three wealthy children decide to sneak out of their safe home in Zimbabwe, and are promptly kidnapped. While they try to escape and find their way home, their mother hires the only detectives she can find: the Ear, the Eye and the Arm, whose exposure to nuclear waste has turned them into mutants — mutants with powers that may make them the only ones who can find the kids.

Thoughts: I picked this one up because I was looking for that rare unicorn of a book, a science fiction novel that’s not about white people. I definitely got that; the fact that this takes place in Africa is not window dressing. The book deals a lot with the struggle between traditional tribal beliefs and modern problems. I don’t know enough — let’s face it, anything — about Zimbabwean culture to judge if it handles it well and respectfully, but nothing really set off my BS radar. The characters were kind of flat, but the set pieces were fun, and I liked the redemption of the first villain the kids faced.

Four cupcakes.

Bookathon: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Book Eight
Starting Time: 1:15 am
Sleeping Time: 3:10 am – 10:45 am
Ending Time: 12:08 pm

Title: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Volume 1: The Pox Party
Author: M. T. Anderson
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 351
Summary: Octavian has been raised as a bizarre science experiment his entire life, but as the Revolutionary War explodes around him, he begins to question his place in the world – not as a specimen, but as a human being.
Thoughts: This is a brilliantly-written, deeply-disturbing book. Like, I went to bed in the middle of it and had to think really hard about ponies and sunshine in order to keep myself from having nightmares. It absolutely captures the style of late 18th-century American writings and delves deep into the horrible, hypocritical debates about slavery that cropped up during a war supposedly fought for liberty and equality. There’s not much plot and a whole lot more agonized philosophy, which isn’t really to my taste, but it is a very good book.

Four cupcakes

Bookathon: Sunny, Diary 1

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Book Five
Starting Time: 8:35 pm
Ending Time: 9:32 pm

Title: California Diaries: Sunny, Diary 1
Author: Ann M. Martin
Genre: Teen drama llama
Pages: 180
Summary: Unable to deal with her mom dying of cancer, Sunny starts cutting school and hanging out at the beach, where she meets an older boy with the no-strings life she longs for.
Thoughts: I liked this one a lot better than the first one. Sunny says and does awful things, but unlike Dawn, she actually has good reason to be lashing out this woundedly. (I don’t think that’s a word.) Carson was kind of a skeevester and a tool (On the Road and Catcher in the Rye are your life, dude? Tooooooool.) until the end, when he actually turned out to be a fairly upstanding guy. In general Sunny’s voice just felt a lot more natural and relatable to me than Dawn’s wishy-washy self-righteousness. (She’s still a pain in the ass in this one. Sigh.)

Four cupcakes

Bookathon: Bite Me!

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Book Three
Starting Time: 4:00 pm
Ending Time: 5:25 pm

Title: Bite Me!
Author: Dylan Meconis
Genre: Humor/Horror/Graphic Novel
Pages: 168
Summary: A ragtag group of vampires attempt to rescue their coven during the height of the French Revolution.
Thoughts: I’ve read Bite Me! in its online form before, but I always prefer having a copy to hold in my hands, so I bought a copy at MoCCA. The story is hilarious; the art, drawn over several years starts out lively and fun and becomes lively and fun and fantastic as Meconis comes into her own. Good times.

Four cupcakes

Bookathon: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Book Three
Starting time: 12:45 PM
Ending time: 4:13 PM

Title: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman
Author: Adrienne Kress
Genre: Humor
Pages: 308

Summary: Alex Morningside loves her sixth grade teacher, Mr. Underwood, so much that when he is kidnapped by the bloodthirsty crew of the pirate ship Ironic Gentleman, she sets off to rescue him. There are plenty of adventures on the way.

Thoughts: Basically, what Jess said when she reviewed it. An enjoyable read, and a bit reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, which I appreciated. I was glad when the whimsical narrative settled down a bit, and laid of the wacky asides and Significant Capitals, because those aren’t devices I’m especially fond of. And I’m baffled as to what time period the book takes place in, as it’s got modern bits (movies, cars, etc) but much of it reads like Ye Olde Fashioned pirate stories. (Though that’s not a very important detail to be concerned about.) The cast of the book was pretty fantastic, the little old ladies were truly menacing and creepy, the climax and resolution were great, and I will probably pick up the sequel when it’s out in paperback.

My favorite bit was the one with the Extremely Ginormous Octopus.

Four cupcakes.

Bookathon: Little Brother

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Book Two
Starting time: 9:57 PM
Ending time: 3:26 AM

Title: Little Brother
Author: Cory Doctorow
Genre: Contemporary, borderline Aliens Among Us
Pages: 380

Summary: Teen hacker Marcus is in the wrong place at the wrong time, gets accused of terrorism, and is dragged off to a secret facility. When he gets back, his home town is a virtual police state. After everything he’s been through, Marcus can’t handle that, and he declares war on the Department of Homeland Security.

Thoughts: My feelings about this book are certainly mixed. I liked the characters — a stunning success on the race, gender, progressive lefty scorecard — and the prose, though there was something mildly off with the pacing. This book was recced to me as both good and important, and it is both of those things. That said, I didn’t enjoy it very much. I had a visceral reaction to the terrorism at the beginning, but beyond that… Hm.

I read mostly for escapism; that’s why so much of what I read is sf/f. When I’m looking at things like race and gender, I’m much more comfortable with looking at story subtext and seeing how that reflects the culture. But there is nothing sub about this text, and while important and engaging, it’s also a bit lecture-y. I agree with it, and I’m glad it was written, but it was an obvious case of story built around an agenda, not agenda built craftily into the story. So while it’s a good book, and I will happily loan my copy out to anyone who is interested, I doubt I will read it again.

Final thought? My favorite bits were the asides on math and cryptography. Sort of Neal Stephenson for the YA crowds.

Four cupcakes.

And now, because it is 3:30 AM, I shall go to bed. I think tomorrow I shall start with something light-hearted and whimsical.

Bookathon: Magic or Madness

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Book One
Time Started: 8:30 pm
Time Finished: 11:20 pm

Title: Magic or Madness
Author: Justine Larbalestier
Genre: Contemporary/urban fantasy.
Pages: 290
Summary: Reason has spent her whole life on the run from her grandmother Esmerelda, but when Reason’s mother goes crazy, Reason finds herself trapped in Esmerelda’s world, with two new friends and the terrifying knowledge that magic is real – and dangerous.
Thoughts: Really, really excellent. Very exciting and creepy, and the characters are great. The world-building is also phenomenal. I want to know more, but alas, I will have to wait until this weekend is over to get my hands on the other two books in the trilogy.

Four cupcakes.

Bookathon: The Invasion (Animorphs #1)

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Book One
Time starting: 8 PM
Time finished: 9:45 PM

Title: The Invasion (Animorphs #1)
Author: K. A. Applegate
Genre: Aliens Among Us
Pages: 184

Summary: Evil, mind-controlling slug-aliens are trying to take over Earth. A good alien dies trying to stop them — but not before giving five ordinary kids the power to morph into animals. And now those five kids are all that stand between the rest of the human race and total enslavement.

Thoughts: Apparently, all my friends grew up on this series, but I totally missed it somehow. It was definitely the shortest of the books in my TBR pile, and the one aimed at the youngest crowd. The prose was very clean, and the change in narration styles when the POV character became an animal was really well done. The cast is multiracial, with girls kicking as much butt as the boys, so it gets a thumbs-up on both of those counts. A fun, fast read. I’d give it to my younger relatives for sure.

Four cupcakes.

The Song of the Lioness Quartet

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Alanna: The First AdventureAlanna: The First Adventure, In the Hand of the Goddess, The Woman Who Rides Like A Man, Lioness Rampant
By Tamora Pierce [Pierce at LibraryThingPierce at Amazon]

Women in Tortall are not warriors, but 11-year-old Alanna would much rather become a knight than a lady or a sorceress — so she hatches a plan to trade places with her twin brother. Disguised as a boy named Alan, she enters training as a page, hoping to become a knight before she is discovered. As Alanna works to prove herself, learning both fighting and magic, she becomes friends with Prince Jonathan — and with George Cooper, a rogue who is the King of Thieves. But all of her friendships and new skills may not be enough when only Alanna realizes that the prince’s cousin, a powerful sorcerer himself, is plotting to take the throne to Tortall… And it seems like only Alanna will be able to stop him. (Very mild uncovered spoilers behind the cut.)

(more…)

Two Mini-Reviews: Bruce Coville’s “Alien Adventures” and “Unicorn Chronicles”

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

By Bruce Coville [Coville at LibraryThingCoville at Amazon]

I’m going to do something a little new, here. It’s no secret that Bruce Coville is my favorite author, and I can’t pretend to be objective about his books — I get too caught up in fangirling. I read all of these books in marathon sessions over the course of a week, so I wasn’t pausing for deep thoughts. Basically, I just want to get these book reviews out there, so I’ve decided to include two short reviews here: one of Bruce Coville’s series The Unicorn Chronicles — including the newly-released book Dark Whispers — and one of his Rod Allbright’s Alien Adventures series.

The Unicorn Chronicles: Into the Land of UnicornsThe Unicorn Chronicles: A strange man begins following Cara and her grandmother, and the incident sends her from her home town into a whole new world — literally. Cara finds herself in Luster, the land of unicorns, where she must deliver a message the unicorn’s queen. But that’s harder than it seems: not all of Luster’s creatures like humans (or unicorns). Cara soon finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old war between the unicorns and a clan of humans who have sworn to hunt them into extinction.

Aliens Ate My HomeworkRod Allbright’s Alien Adventures: Rod Allbright is a typical kid — albeit a clumsy one. Then a group of aliens crash-lands in his science project, and reveal that the school bully who torments Rod is actually a villain wanted galaxy-wide for crimes of unspeakable cruelty. Things get even worse from there when it turns out Rod’s enemy may be the only one who knows what happened to Rod’s long-missing father.

(more…)