Saturday, 30 May 2009
Friday, 29 May 2009
Mostly from the title, I was expecting The Reformed Vampire Support Group to be a fun vampire parody with not much plot. Instead it’s a humorous story full of adventure and interesting characters. It’s incredibly refreshing to encounter vampires that aren’t superhuman, sexy people who can do everything. Instead, Catherine Jinks makes vampirism a kind of handicap. Because they don’t drink human blood, the vampires aren’t very strong. The characters of the vampires, especially their self-elected leader Sanford, make the group seem like a bickering parish council or something.
Monday, 18 May 2009
Saturday, 16 May 2009
Wings is a fun, light read. It has an interesting take on faeries, but I felt there was something missing from this tale. We’ve only seen a sliver of a world that Aprilynne Pike clearly knows very well. My biggest problem is that the plot is fairly straightforward and stretched out for the size of the book. However, the plot that we do get is nicely written, with a refreshingly original take on faeries. Often books have 'original' takes on mythical creatures that are incredibly similar, but Aprilynne Pike has created a whole new species with the faeries in Wings.
Laurel is a sympathetic protagonist and her need to fit in will be understood by most teenagers. Her chemistry with David and Tam was believable, and her relationship with her parents was also nicely played out. The 'bad guys' of the book were a tad formulaic, their motives were never really explained. Other than that though, Wings has a cast of believable characters.
As I’ve said, the faeries are a stroke of genius. I just wish that Pike had packed more plot in. This is a fun, entertaining book, but I have to say that I see it appealing more to younger teens than older. Usually I ignore the distinctions between teenage books, because children’s books can be totally suitable for older readers too. In this case though, I’d say young to mid teens are the ideal audience for this book if they’re looking for light, magical entertainment.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
Mary Hoffman’s area of expertise seems to be in creating medieval Italian intrigue, and she does it well. In Falconer’s knot this isn’t court intrigue, but far more complicated, spanning all ranges of class from the nobility to merchants to friars. This complexity is handled well. Although I had suspicions about one crime, for the most part I didn’t know who the murderer would turn out to be, making it more page-turning.
Chiara and Silvano were a nice pair. Because the friars and nuns were separate, their relationship begins slowly, with each noticing the other around and speculating about them. I appreciated this slow start as often with young adult books the relationships begin at breakneck speed. The older characters were interesting role models. Those whose stories begin with no apparent correlation are very cleverly twisted together to reveal interesting relationships between the characters, and one complete story.
The Falconer’s Knot is a cleverly plotted tale with several separate strands twisted together. As a murder mystery it held my attention and entertained me. I don’t think I’ll feel the need to re-read this though. Despite the intricate intrigue, I found that the writing itself feels underdeveloped. Somehow the characters are complex enough for a first glance, but I felt that looking at them further would make no difference; their characterisation was only page deep, as it were. I can’t imagine them as people outside the pages of the book. This isn’t a problem for the first read though, especially as they are very interesting 2D characters, if that makes sense. It’s worth reading for the intelligent plotting and mystery element.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
I have most of your addresses, but I still need yours Llehn, so check your inbox!
Congrats to the winners. Hope you enjoy the book!
Friday, 8 May 2009
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
This is a really unusual storyline. It’s rather unbelievable, I agree. But even more unbelievable is the fact that it was based on a true story. As soon as I discovered that I wanted to get myself a copy of Newes From the Dead. Not only is it based on a true story, but it feels accurate. I’m sure Mary Hooper embellished the story a lot, but she did this with discretion. It doesn’t feel sensationalised, just more personal.
We get the narrative split up between Anne and a young scholar, Robert. Anne has woken up not knowing where she is, unable to see anything or move. Afraid that she is either in purgatory or has been buried alive, she distracts herself by going over the events in her head, basically telling her own story. In between these chapters is the account of what is happening in the doctors’ rooms. This works well as the speculation from the doctors regarding her trial coincides with Anne’s own account.
As far as characters, some are interesting and some underdeveloped. Unfortunately, Anne felt too flat. The author apparently tries to make her innocence clear by making her overly naive. This was taken too far, especially for a servant in 1650. On top of this, Anne seemed immature and had little redeeming features. She was simply the embodiment of ‘innocent young girl greatly wronged.’ On the other hand, I loved the dialogue between the scholars and Robert especially. Robert is struggling with a stammer, unable to talk to people but he finds that he can talk to Anne’s motionless body.
Despite some small problems, I enjoyed Newes from the Dead. The time period was realistically portrayed and the lack of justice for the lower classes is shocking. Younger readers should be aware that the book deals with some seduction, hanging and giving birth. These are handled well so aren’t too gruesome, but are integral to the plot. It’s an interesting and well-written read, but not too hard-going.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Monday, 4 May 2009
‘Just listen,’ Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.
I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can. And I listen.
‘Stay,’ he says.
I thought I knew what this book was going to be. Having read the reviews, I figured I knew the plot. I expected it to be an amazingly written book that could only really end one way.
Then I started reading. Mia’s family were so believable, especially her little brother Teddy. I could almost see the whole family chatting around the breakfast table. Thankfully the pacing at the beginning was fast – I was expecting a long and dragging build-up. And suddenly, I wasn’t so confident that it could only end one way. The writing gripped me and I was invested in the characters. Not just Mia, but also her grandparents, Adam, Kim. I not only cared what would happen to Mia, but I cared how it would affect all those who had joined together to support her. The past and present was weaved together nicely to give a greater depth to all of the characters.
The book reads quite quickly, maybe because I was paying so much attention to it. For a relatively small book (210 pages), it’s packed with breath-taking story and doesn’t feel at all rushed. There is just enough plot to sustain it, especially as it's so short, but If I Stay is more a character study, a snapshot of Mia's life and choice than anything else. I wasn’t quite sure about the ending at first. It left me wanting more, wanting to know how her decision affects everyone instead of cutting off so quickly. Now I’ve considered it, I feel that the book is a story about a decision – it’s about the choice itself. The difficulty of the choice as opposed to the difficulty of the effects of that choice.
Mia’s decision was especially poignant. I cried more than once reading this, and I don’t cry when I read books. I not only felt her sadness, but understood it. A good writer can make you care when their character is in trouble. A great writer can make you understand the trouble, even if it’s something that you yourself can’t personally comprehend. For me, If I Stay was an example of the latter. It was a beautiful, uplifting book. I recommend it for those looking for a book with substance and heart.
Saturday, 2 May 2009
Friday, 1 May 2009
Despite what you might think from my description of her, I do actually like Sophie. But it can't be denied that she doesn't do very much. She's very good at lying but I don't think this counts as interesting like sitting in a pan does. And she definitely wouldn't let me put scrabble tiles on her.