Showing posts tagged read

Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones

5 star

Grim Reaper, Murder Mystery, Adventure, Sex, Humor

Charley has some romps in this book that are lighthearted (will she say yes or no, how to get her uncle to date Cookie) and some that are less so (hellhounds, and apparently you can in fact lose your soul) and the tension is just as high as it was in the beginning, but it definitely feels like every book raises the stakes. I love Charley because she is so adamantly herself, and Cookie and Swopes get some well-deserved page time, but Reyes really grates on me because he never tells Charley the whole truth and his condescension gets worse every book. You learn a lot more about the world beyond this one, and I’m excited to find out what is up with Mr. Wong.

Stupid cliffhanger ending.

Previous books: First Grave on the RightSecond Grave on the LeftThird Grave Dead AheadFourth Grave Beneath My FeetFifth Grave Past the Light
Later books: Seventh Grave and No Body, Eighth Grave After Dark

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

5 star

Superpowers, Friendship, Revenge, Villainy, Purpose

Vic and Eli were best friends — up until they killed themselves to come back to life to prove their theory that Near Death Experiences were the cause of ExtraOrdinary powers. The shockwaves from their decisions rippled out and the book flips from today to ten years ago, slowly revealing what happened to these men and the people in their lives today. It is a comic-book-style noir that covers jealousy, humanity, purpose, and revenge. It is a fascinating story that moves quickly and nimbly as it builds up a world of its own.

Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones

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5 star

Grim Reaper, Murder Mystery, Adventure, Sex, Humor

Reyes is living next door to Charley — which is helpful, as her apartment is full of murdered woman incapable of communicating with Charley, and Cookie is busy learning how to use a gun after an incident at Calamity’s during one of Charley’s standard cheating husband investigations. Garrett Swopes (insert swoon here) is starting to piece together more of the puzzle that is Reyes and Charley which is helpful as she is forced to put her powers to the test once again. I can’t say enough good things about these books: they are hilarious, full of danger and mayhem, full of friendship and well-drawn relationships both good and bad, and just plain entertaining.

Previous books: First Grave on the RightSecond Grave on the LeftThird Grave Dead AheadFourth Grave Beneath My Feet
Later books: Sixth Grave on the Edge, Seventh Grave and No Body, Eighth Grave After Dark

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

1 star

Scifi, Fantasy, Religion, Family

Meg, an obnoxious and mean kid; Charles Wallace, her psychically sensitive and arrogant younger brother; and Calvin, the boy who appears to only exist to fall in love with Meg and thereby validate her brattiness, are whisked away to another planet where Meg and Charles’ father has been imprisoned by Evil, personified by an actual black shadow and represented by a controlling, Communist-allegory world. I won’t lie to you; I hated this book as a child and wanted to give it another chance but found the storytelling just as paltry, the action just as poorly described, and the characters just as loathsome as I did when I was nine. L’Engle struggles to create characters that read the same from chapter to chapter, and her action sequences are poorly described (a character suddenly is making eye contact with a person who was seated behind him, for example), and both serve to pull the reader out of an already grating narrative. This classic is not one worth reading; there is plenty of other excellent children’s literature to be had.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson

5 stars

War, Magic, Powerful Women, Marvelous Character Development

The trilogy follows Elisa’s journey from lazy, unmotivated princess who has yet to fulfill her role as Chosen One (a gift bestowed upon one person every century with the expectation that they will do something incredible to help their people) to a powerful queen and leader who will become the mastermind for peace and the final catalyst to all the chosen ones’ actions before her. It’s an incredible character-driven story full of clever, determined people who make plenty of mistakes but never stop trying to be better. The war that spans the trilogy is ugly and violent and there are many casualties, but the tenacity and willpower of Elisa and her allies makes the end so much more worthwhile.

Book 1: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Book 2: The Crown of Embers

Book 3: The Bitter Kingdom

Short Stories: The Shadow Cats, The Shattered Mountain, The King’s Guard

The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

3 star

Classic Vampires, Health Epidemics, Horror

The vampire virus has been spreading throughout the world and Eph and Co. are fighting but concerned it may be too late to save humanity. Not a lot of plot-movement in this one. My biggest problem is that it reads like a movie script, and certain scene changes that would work great visually make the book drag. No character development, but it was exciting enough that I will still read the last one.

Previous book: The Strain
Later book: The Night Eternal

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones

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4 star

Grim Reaper, Murder Mystery, Adventure, Sex, Humor

Charley is slowly recovering from being tortured, but recovery is hard when the Son of Satan is alternately ruining your life and making it worth living, you’re trying to solve multiple cases, and that cute biker guy you have your eye on maybe just robbed a bank and took you hostage. But Charley deals with all of the above and more with her standard aplomb, and she learns more about her own powers and the war around her. This book was a lot darker than the previous ones and I missed the banter with Cookie and Garrett, but Jones did a great job of portraying Charley’s healing while not letting the action of the book slow down. My biggest problem is that Reyes was the reason Charley was tortured and the way he reacts to her justified anger and hurt is unacceptable. I still think these books are everything the Sookie Stackhouse books could have been, and I would recommend these over those any day.

Previous books:  First Grave on the RightSecond Grave on the LeftThird Grave Dead Ahead
Later books: Fifth Grave Past the Light, Sixth Grave on the Edge, Seventh Grave and No Body, Eighth Grave After Dark

Doll Bones by Holly Black

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5 stars

Growing Up, Adventure, Friendship, Ghosts

The elaborate stories that Zach, Poppy, and Alice create with their toys are nothing short of magic to them, so when Zach’s father throws his action figures away in a misguided attempt to force him into growing up, the friendship between the three is strained to a breaking point. In order to fix the rift, Poppy starts them on a real adventure to put the ghost of a murdered girl to rest. The trio is at the point toward the end of childhood where everything from expectations to emotions start to change and friendships either adapt or fall apart. Doll Bones is heartfelt and sincere about the difficulties of growing up and shows that you don’t have to lose the magic of childhood in the process. It also has a great touch of supernatural horror in the form of the ghost that haunts the china doll.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

4 star

Children with Disabilities, Cerebral Palsy, Understanding, Family, Kindness

Melody has a photographic memory; loving, attentive parents; an amazing babysitter — and cerebral palsy. The book chronicles her struggles to communicate without being able to speak or even hold herself up, as well as her interest in music, her love of movies and her dog and baby sister, and her struggles with kids in school who don’t understand her and don’t want to. It is a powerful book that does an amazing job of showing that Melody has the same fears and dreams as anyone while portraying her relationships and illness with emotional resonance. I found it unrealistic that she only had a few words available to her on a talking board and it was not until most of the way through the story that she got a computer that could speak for her—couldn’t her parents have at least given her letters to spell things out that she needed since she was so smart? Overall, while the book does overly dramatize some things, it is a touching portrayal of a subject that is not often discussed.

Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth

3 star

Short Stories, Dystopian, Alternate POV

Four stories (ha) told from the perspective of Four from Divergent. These are very well-written and it was fun seeing Four’s life before Tris. I also really liked slipping back into the world of Divergent. But it didn’t add anything to the trilogy and it didn’t give me another plot or story; not enough to make it a full stand-alone hardback.

Cleopatra Rules!: The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen by Vicky Alvear Shecter

3 star

Biography, Cleopatra, Egypt, Rome, Girl Power

Shecter’s thesis is that Cleopatra was slandered and was not an evil seductress but instead an educated, brilliant, charismatic leader who went to any lengths necessary to strengthen Egypt. She does a great job of backing this up with facts, and the images throughout are well-placed, and the indices at the end are very helpful for anyone looking for more detail. The actual writing style, however, got old really fast (at one point she makes a metaphor that banishing Cleopatra and expecting her to stay banished was as likely as taking a cell phone from a teenage girl) as it was chock full of annoying stereotypes that counteracted the feminist positivity Shecter uses to describe Cleopatra. A quick and fun read for fans of Ancient Egypt, but not a must read for fans of history in general.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

4 star

Memoir, Essays, Humor, Life

Tina Fey recounts her life, from theater camp to improvisational comedy troupe to SNL writer to tv show creator and star. The book does a great job of telling stories of her life that are sometimes outrageous and sometimes relatable, but each time she makes it clear why she told that story and what she has learned from the experience. I also like that she is constantly championing women and feminism. I listened to the audiobook and highly recommend it; Fey narrates and has perfect comedic timing as it her book, and she does some impressions and plays clips from SNL.

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones

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5 star

Grim Reaper, Murder Mystery, Adventure, Sex, Humor

I can’t get enough of this insane, stubborn, and outrageously charming grim reaper—and apparently neither can the bad guys, because in this volume she is up against new kinds of evil and learns more about herself and the world of angels and demons beyond her. Charley is ferocious in going after what she wants, but what is truly amazing is that she is always doing the right thing, even if that means hunting down people who are probably (definitely) going to try and murder her, and her passion inspires incredible loyalty in the cast of supporting characters (who are both well-crafted and just plain fun). Jones strikes a balance between humor and horror which makes this book suspenseful but not in the way that makes you want to skip to the end, because you know the ride is going to be worth it.

Previous books: First Grave on the RightSecond Grave on the Left
Later books: Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, Fifth Grave Past the Light, Sixth Grave on the Edge, Seventh Grave and No Body, Eighth Grave After Dark

Railsea by China Miéville

5 star

Railroads, Steampunk Future, Something Like Moby Dick, Adventure

If you threw Moby Dick in the bathtub and said you know what actually, water is stupid, let’s take the basic structure of this book but make it about RAILROADS and GIANT MOLES and a kid who’s on this MOLETRAIN and secretly wants to discover what happens where all the railroads END—well, you would have Railsea. Miéville has built a society, a scenario, slang, and a whole bunch of jobs that don’t exist today and has spun them into a tale that is as amazing as it is unique. His style of writing is expressive and fanciful and his plot is engaging. Would recommend to everyone.

Transfixion by J. Giambrone

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2 stars

Mind-Control, Mindless Fighting, Weird Protagonists, Teenagers, Survival

Kaylee’s journey starts when the TVs start broadcasting a signal that reprograms anyone who sees it into mindless soldiers bent on killing anyone who isn’t under the influence of the mind-control. Kaylee is mute for the first half of the book and a mute heroine struggling to make her ideas heard in the middle of a crisis has the potential to be great. However, she just doesn’t react to things in the way someone in her situation would— she barely reacts to the death of her mother in the initial onslaught and when her mind-controlled brother tries to break down the door to kill her, Kaylee just laments not being able to finish her book. Her unstable mindset and behavior is so bizarre it’s hard to care about her or anyone else. The war itself doesn’t make much sense either as the brainwashed “dupes” try to kill everyone instead of brainwashing them and the how and why of the TV signal is never explained (is it worldwide? countrywide? citywide? what’s the scale and purpose?).