Tag Archives: rating 3 of 5

The Other Side of the Island

Goodman, Allegra. The Other Side of the Island (2008). Razorbill. 272 Pages. $8.99

From Goodreads

Honor and her parents have been reassigned to live on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Life is peaceful there, the color of the sky is regulated by Earth Mother, a corporation that controls New Weather, and it almost never rains. Everyone fits into their rightful and predictable place. . . .

Except Honor. She doesn’t fit in, but then she meets Helix, a boy with a big heart and a keen sense for the world around them. Slowly, Honor and Helix begin to uncover a terrible truth about life on the Island: Sooner or later, those who are unpredictable disappear . . . and they don’t ever come back.

First Lines

All this happened many years ago, before the streets were air-conditioned. Children played outside then, and in many places the sky was naturally blue. A girl moved to a town house in the Colonies on Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

The Girl in the Steel Corset

Cross, Kady.The Girl in the Steel Corset (2011). 480 Pages. Harlequin Teen. $10.58

Steampunk Chronicles: Book One

This review is pre-release: It comes out May 24th, 2011.

From Amazon:

In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help—and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on—even if it seems no one believes her.

First Lines

London, 1897

The moment she saw the young man walking down the darkened hall toward her, twirling his walking stick, Finley Jayne knew she’d be unemployed before the sun rose. Her third dismissal in as many months.

She tensed and slowed her steps, but she did not stop. She kept her head down, but was smart enough not to take her gaze off him. Perhaps he would walk right by her, as though she were as invisible as servants were supposed to be.

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Filed under Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult Fiction

Dust City

Weston, Robert Paul. Dust City (2010). 299 Pages. RazorBill. $16.99

From Goodreads:

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

His son, that’s who.

Ever since his father’s arrest for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood, teen wolf Henry Whelp has kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves . . . until a murder at the Home leads Henry to believe his father may have been framed.

Now, with the help of his kleptomaniac roommate, Jack, and a daring she-wolf named Fiona, Henry will have to venture deep into the heart of Dust City; a rundown, gritty metropolis where fairydust is craved by everyone and controlled by a dangerous mob of Water Nixies and their crime boss leader, Skinner.

Can Henry solve the mystery of his family’s sinister past? Or, like his father before him, is he destined for life as a big bad wolf?

First Lines

Once upon a time, fairydust came from where you’d expect. From fairies. I was only a cub, so I don’t remember much of what the City was like back then. But I have a strong sense that things were different. Dreams could come true. You read about it in the paper. I’ve seen the clippings.

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Filed under Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

The Dead Girls’ Dance

Caine, Rachel. The Dead Girls’ Dance (2007). 238 Pages. Penguin. $6.99

The Morganville Vampires: Volume 2

From the Back Cover

Claire Danvers has her share of challenges– like being a genius in a school that favors beauty over brains, dealing with the homicidal girls in her dorm, and above all, finding out that her college town is overrun with vampires. On the up side, she has a great roommate (who tends to disappear at sunup) and a new boyfriend named Shane… whose vampire-hunting dad has called in backup: cycle punks who like the idea of killing just about anything.

Now a fraternity is throwing its annual Dead Girls’ Dance and– surprise!– Claire and her equally outcast best friend, Eve, have been invited. When they find out why, all hell is going to break loose. Because this time both the living and the dead are coming out– and everybody’s hungry for blood.

First Lines

It didn’t happen, Claire told herself. It’s a bad dream, just another bad dream. You’ll wake up and it’ll be gone like fog…

Thoughts

I was warned that book 1 was a cliffhanger, so I had book 2 at hand to continue. I would advise doing the same, should you choose to read it.

The story definitely shifts a bit from volume 1 to volume 2. There is some major violence, and quite a bit of angst and drama in this volume, which works well, considering the storyline. Things start to get more involved, and the end result is a story which keeps drawing you in, making you want to know even more than Glass Houses told.

Things are complicated by the fact that the vampires aren’t very happy with the residents of Glass House. None of them are safe, and it’s a difficult thing to read about. There aren’t any strong females, and none of them rise to the challenge. There is a moment of potential gang-rape, and I was unimpressed by the character’s inability to help herself at all.

There is a complete story arc here, but it’s clear that there is much, much more to come.

It gets a 3 of 5.

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Real Reads: Pride and Prejudice

Austen, Jane. Real Reads: Pride & Prejudice (2009). 64 Pages. Windmill Books. price unknown*

We can’t help re-making the greats, sometimes we do silly things, like dumbing them down so they’re more “child-friendly” which sometimes works. Occasionally, books are too dense, and contain vocabulary which children would not recognize. I am of the opinion that this struggle is positive, and dictionary skills are a good thing to acquire.

The book at hand is a simplified retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Gill Tavner did the re-write, and Ann Kronheimer did the illustrations. The style of writing and the style of drawing do work well together, and the overall effect is mild and pleasant. There are characters whose roles have been cut (Kitty, Mary, & Mr Collins most notably) and there are story-lines which have been altered or removed (the estate’s entailment, Charlotte’s spinster status, and more) but the book acknowledges this in the back, and explains that it is well worth reading an unabridged version. The story is very short (it ends after 54 pages) but it is easily comprehended. They did a fairly good job of simplifying a classic to make it a quick, easy read for children.

There is a whole set of Real Reads Classics, including their Indian Classics line (which has the Ramayana, a fun story). I imagine it’s a fairly popular way to get younger audiences reading books which are mostly tackled by adults these days.

In Conclusion:

For now, this version gets a 3/5. By adult standards, it’s nothing special. It’s a solid abridgment, aimed at children, and it has nice illustrations. It’s got the major plot points in it, and it references the plot points it has removed. It offers some discussion/consideration questions at the back, and is therefore a fairly good volume. I have not run it by my sisters (the age group at whom it is aimed) and pending their approval, it may get a score upgrade.

I’ll be running this by my sisters to see how much kids actually like stories like this, but I think that it’s a good start, and an easy way to introduce kids to classics. I’ve been conditioned to feel that classics are good, and that it’s important to read, even if what you’re reading is not “good” by adult standards. It gets a 3/5 until I get a sisterly stamp of approval for a score upgrade.

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* I found it on a clearance shelf in the back corner of a second-hand store. I’m not sure how much it originally cost, but I paid $.99 for it.

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction

You Suck: A Love Story

Moore, Christopher. You Suck: A Love Story (2008) 352 Pages. Harper Collins. $13.99

Sequel To: Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story (1995)

As I have said previously: I am not allowed to read Christopher Moore in public. It has become increasingly obvious to me that I should also avoid reading Christopher Moore at work. When you’re sitting awkwardly in the corner of the break-room giggling to yourself, coworkers tend to ask questions like: “What are you reading?” Sometimes, that’s not a problem, but there are times when I just want to read, and do not want to be asked. (Nor do I want people leaning and moving to where they can read the cover without asking, because that is somehow more annoying).

Anyhow, because this is a sequel, my review will likely contain at least a few spoilers for the first book. (Though I will try to keep a lid on any spoilers for the book at hand.) Proceed at  your own risk…

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Wild Robert

Jones, Diana Wynne. Wild Robert (2003 ed.) 100 Pages. Greenwillow Books. $15.99

I can’t find any of my Diana Wynne Jones books. Well, that’s not strictly correct; I cannot find any of my Diana Wynne Jones books which I have not previously reviewed within the last three months. This means that I am missing both volumes of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, all three copies of Howl’s Moving Castle as well as Castle in the Air and House of Many Ways. I still have not gotten my hands on The Enchanted Glass, though whether or not I win it in Jenny’s giveaway, I’ll be getting a copy soon.

So I went on a library adventure. I figured, “She’s written so many books that the library has to have at least a few in…” Well, I was in luck. They had a shelf-full, and there were even one or two I haven’t heard of before– Wild Robert, for example.

Heather is dissatisfied with her lot in life. Her bicycle is broken, leaving her stuck at Castlemaine, unable to go visit her friend Janine to escape the tourists who descend upon the ancient house every day, hoping to see a bit of history. Within the ancient house, there are a few places which Jenny considers to be “safe” from tourists, but because she spent too much time reading, there is only one which she can safely get to.

Out in the woods near Castlemaine is a mound– legend says it’s a witch’s burial-mound, Heather’s mum says that it might be a bronze-age burial mound, but her father says it’s an old icehouse, which leaves both Heather and her mother disappointed. That doesn’t stop Heather from hiding out here to read when her indoor havens have all been invaded.

Today however, is an exceptionally bad day, and Heather finds herself wishing that Wild Robert (the man who legend says is buried here) would come and help her reclaim her home. To her surprise, he appears in a mist, and is more than willing to wreak some havoc and help to reclaim his house. Unsurprisingly, Heather learns that what she really wanted is not what she thought, and she’s not exactly thrilled with Robert’s behavior.

In Conclusion:

I would be lying if I said I loved this book. At 100 pages of story, it’s more of a teaser, and it ends with the sort of sentence that leaves you feeling like this is a beginning, rather than a full novel. It could use some editing, either to become a full novella, or to become a true short story. The concept, however, is great, and the illustrations present in every chapter make it a fun read. It gets a 3/5, because it does need to be more self-contained, I think.

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fantasy