Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
It's the first day of summer* and Benjamin's looking forward to two months away from school. Instead, he witnesses his mom disappear into a painting, finds a man talking to him in a mirror and gets invited to summer school on another planet.
Once he arrives to the planet (Lemuria), things just get even more complicated. Within the first week, he discovers that he's not human (he's a telegen) and also, well, he's been chosen to save the world. (No pressure, right?). He has to find three keys and he has only eight weeks to do it. Lucky for him, he has the help of his friends, the Alliance. And, unluckily, there's also someone out to stop him....
PJ Hoover's fabulous worldbuilding is both innovative and realistic. Telegens are a race that existed before humans, a race that is both intellectually and physically superior. All the telegens in the book have special skills. For example, Benjamin can levitate objects. A friend of his is extraordinarily good at reading minds. Telegens live on two planets, which would be better called continents, Lemuria and Atlantis. When the human race appeared, the telegens sunk Lemuria and put up a shield. Telegens on Atlantis decided to mix with humans, eventually trying to control the human race. So, the Lemurian telegens put a shield around Atlantis and (you guessed it) sunk it to the bottom of the ocean. Additions of characters like the Nogical (a really tiny telegen), Jack, helped add to the believability of the story.
I think PJ Hoover really nailed the voice of a 13-year old boy. Benjamin is confident and a bit rude but also a little unsure. As well, the family interactions at the beginning rang true and were also rather funny. On the other hand, the other characters in the novel tended to be a bit bland and stereotypical with the exception of the Nogical, Jack, who was probably my favourite character.
And, of course, all books are better with a little bit of humour. And, The Emerald Tablet is quite funny. For example (this is a scene at the beginning. Just as Benjamin is leaving for summer school, his younger twin brothers give him a present):
"It's a car," Derrick blurted out before Benjamin could open it.
"You're not supposed to tell him," Douglas said. "Now, it's not a surprise."
"It's still a surprise," Benjamin replied. "I don't know which car it is."
"It's our favourite black police car," Derrick told Benjamin.
Although the characterization tended to be lacking, the Emerald Tablet made up for it by being fast paced and exciting. This is a story sure to please anyone looking for an adventure.
*I wish it was actually the first day of summer.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
The Widow's Season by Laura Brodie
The Widow's Season has a very interesting plot. Dead husband who may or may not be dead. It reminds me of Amelia Earhart (who I just happened to be reading about while I read this book as well) and how people speculated that she didn't really die but just assumed a different identity, moved to New Jersey, and lived a whole other life with a new husband, etc.
The first part (out of four) was really spooky. Sarah feels like she's being watched and is seeing her supposedly dead husband at places like the grocery store. While I knew it was her husband, it was still eerie because he's behaving like a stalker, watching and waiting for his victim at her most vulnerable. This was actually my favorite part because I enjoyed being a little scared and racing through the pages waiting to see what was happening.
My only concern is that everything isn't fully explained. Most is, but there are a couple circumstances that stand out as unexplainable. At the risk of revealing spoilers I won't discuss particulars, but I question Sarah's mental stability even after the end of the novel.
I am left both satisfied and slightly confused by the ending. I suppose it is best this way. It allows the reader to decide what the truth is, which one of the discussion questions in the readers guide actually suggests.
A recommended read.
RR: Thanks Amee for stopping by! And from what she's saying, The Widow's Season is a book you should definitely pick up! :)
Monday, August 17, 2009
When I first picked up the novel, I was under the impression that it would be a play-out similar to that of Romeo and Juliet. And thank goodness it wasn't. The book starts off with Julia's death and a quick gloss over their relationship. The entrance is quick, startling even, and an effective lure for the reader.
The writing in The Secret Year is effective throughout. Colt has a distinctive voice and the word choice was realistic for his character (aka, male, teenage etc). The writing style was smooth as well. The story seemed to flow somewhat seemlessly from start to finish even while Colt looks backwards into his life with Julia and when he lives his life with her gone.
At first his devasation over her death seemed to be a bit overdramatic, however, at the end, all was revealed and the entire purpose of the novel came to light.
Personally, one of my favorite parts about the novel was how Julia was present throughout, through Colt's memories and, more importantly, through her journal. It helped give dimension to the relationship and to her. It made it easier to see both sides of the story and to see exactly what effect that "secret year" had on both her and Colt.
Finally, while the novel focuses on mainly Julia and Colt, the other characters in the novel played integral roles throughout. I would have liked to see more development in characters such as Colt's brother, his friend Syd and Julia's boyfriend, Austin. However, despite that, Jennifer Hubbard's cast of characters in her novel was realistic and they were vital to the novel and revealing Colt and Julia's story.
All in all, The Secret Year is an engrossing novel that many will enjoy when it comes out in January 2010.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Getting in Tune recreates the seventies punk music scene and the author throws in plenty of musical references that are sure to make someone who lived through that era smile and give someone who didn't, an insider look into that time period. It's clear that Roger Trott knows his stuff (he's played in multiple bands), the band's interactions comes off as realistic and engaging. The main character, Daniel, is obsessed with The Who, especially with lead singer and guitarist, Pete Townshend who serves as a sort of inner critic. There are a ton of references to The Who. (In fact, when I was searching for a picture of this book for the review, I discovered that Getting in Tune is also the name of a The Who song.)
Roger Trott writes with a straightforward narrative style which makes the book easily readable. However, some of the characters were a bit stereotypical or simply forgettable (halfway through the book, I was still confusing two of the band members, Rob and Sam). But ultimately, I enjoyed the novel and Daniel's musings. By the end of the novel, I wanted to spend just a little more time with the characters, just to see what could happen to them next, if the band would stay together, if Daniel would meet Nita again ...And that, I think is one of the best compliments a book can receive.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Michelle Zink has kindly donated a prize pack in celebration of the release of her book, Prophecy of the Sisters.
And so...on to the contest!
To enter this contest, you must post a few short sentences on WHY VICTORIAN GUYS RULE. All entries pertaining to the topic will then be numbered off and a random number generator will be the judge!
+1 entry if you link the contest from your blog/myspace/facebook etc :)
The winner will win: Prophecy playlist, Visa gift card, Prophecy bookmark, Prophecy magnet, signed Prophecy poster, lip gloss, candy, choice of DVD between PS I Love You or Atonement.
So enter away! Contest ends August 22th at Midnight!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I've been lusting after this book for centuries so it's time for it to be featured in my WoW post for this week :)
Pub Date: Spring 2010ish *anyone with updated info?*
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.
Mm.. I want...
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Shortly after twin sisters Alice and Lia become orphans, another upheaval enters their lives. With the death of their father comes the disintegration of their relationship. In short? The twins have become enemies; and have been fated to have been so from the moment of their conception. One twin represents good and the other, inevitably, represents evil and destruction. Lia is certain that she is the twin meant to keep the world safe but the journey to fufill the prophecy is a rocky one.
Lia must fufill the prophecy before her sister does and as she tries to do so, she learns about her mysterious role in the prophecy, the tragic deaths of her parents and the truth about her and her sister.
I've noticed people have been comparing Prophecy of the Sisters to a Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Some parts of this comparison, I completely agree with. For one, Prophecy of the Sisters is set in a similar setting and in the Victoria Era, just like a Great and Terrible Beauty. Michelle Zink uses her setting to create an ambience of mystery. And, in truth, plain darn ol' creepiness is evident in the novel and the mood really helps pull the reader in to the story.
The diction in the novel is also distinct. When I first started reading the book, it felt sort of abrupt. The language is phrased so elegantly that the transition from real life to the story was slightly harsh. However, after a few pages, the words were enrapturing and led me to sit and read the entire novel in one go.
The narrator, Lia, is the sister from whom we view and learn the prophecy from. We start off with learning of her father's death and see her family and friends through her eyes. Lia's reactions to her new friends who play an integral role in the prophecy, her aunt, her vulnerable little brother and the evolution of her sister Alice from sister to enemy. The events and the way Lia reacts to them help make her a character of credibility. Lia is well fleshed out. However, I would have liked to see a bit more development of the other characters such as James and even Alice. However, Lia's love for her younger brother Henry and her now deceased father are well-conveyed and make certain moments that much more painful.
The bond between Alice and Lia is an interesting one. Most twins and sisters that I know have a stronger connection than the one between Alice and Lia. It's eerie, even, to read about their relationship. Even at the beginning it is painfully obvious that there is no way the two will be able to reconcile and work through the prophecy together.
The ending is also left in perfect manner. I hate cliff-hangers with a passion, however, Michelle Zink manages to create an open ending without leaving the reader frustrated with the lack of conclusion.
Overall? Prophecy of the Sisters is a supremely engrossing novel, one that I would never have suspected was a debut novel. I'd advise anyone, everyone, to pick it up! I'm waiting anxiously for the sequel...
For now, we have an interview with Michelle Zink:
Scary. And Exciting. And Nerve-wracking. And oh, yeah. Exhilarating! ;)
2) Why did you choose to set the book in the time era (not to far back, not far forward) that you did?
The Victorian era is so representative of everything Gothic. I love the old houses with creaky floors, rooms flickering in candlelight, and the sensuality of petticoats, velvet, silk, gloves... all of it! It seemed like the perfect backdrop to the very dark tale that became Prophecy. Plus, I'd never written anything in that era before and thought it would be a challenge!
3)The relationship of Lia and Alice is a pivotal one to the story. Why did you choose to have twins; as in an evil and good twin, as the main characters? (And, by chance, do you have an evil twin?!?)
I'm an only child, so sibling relationships have always held a special fascination for me. It seems like such an unbreakable bond, and the twin relationship is that much more intense. Using twins Lia and Alice adds even more conflict and sadness to the decisions each sister has to make to find their way through the ancient riddle of the Prophecy
4) Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Just a thank you to all the bloggers who have responded so enthusiastically to Prophecy and who have done so much to get the word out about it over the past few months!
Make sure you stop by later today for a review on Prophecy of the Sisters!