Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Monstrumologist so good you might throw up in your mouth.

Body chomping, wide eyed, cadaver shrapnel and much more in this story that’s less about monsters and more about people. The Monstumologist is told through writings left by an elderly man named Will Henry when he died. Will Henry is left orphan when his parents die and is taken into the care of Dr. Warthrop. Dr. Warthrop has quite an unusual profession even for Victorian times, he is a monstrumologist (a scientist who studies monsters, at least in this book). Now, before you get all mushy about how sentimental this guy must be to take in a little orphan boy and raise him all by himself, let me just let you know that neither him nor Will Henry see it this way. Will Henry is at the beck and call of this insecure, needy, and demanding individual. This man is devoted to his work to the point of obsession and little else matters when he is in the thick of it, or so it seems. A late night knock on their door throws us full on into the hunt and introduces us to the life of the little orphan monstrumologist apprentice. Things are deeper than they appear and through the ups and downs and disgusting turns you find that not everything is what is seems.

Books don’t receive a Printz Medal Honor without having depth. There are times when your stomach will turn at the scenes that emerge from your imagination as you read this story, but behind all the action and gore is a story about people and the complicated relationships that we have. Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop have a relationship built out of necessity and yet in the midst of it is this realistically complicated mutual parent-child relationship. There’s something about orphans that can make you want to root for them and defend them and Will Henry is no exception. When you add an ensemble of supporting cast which are all equally intriguing to these two already incredible characters, you have a story worth reading more than once. It’s one of those stories that has gotten better after it has settled for a while. This is a book for those who love great stories that can give you that taste of horror without all the pointless slashing, screaming, and tripping on roots in the middle of the woods while running from the terrible ugly monster thing trying to cut you up to use in its sushi rolls. Be sure to dig into this one when you get a chance, but make sure you don’t overindulge yourself before you pick it up just in case you get one of the particularly “touching” scenes. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Red Moon Rising(Advance Reading Copy) now not rising until Feb. 2011

Attending school at Carpathia Night means that if you are not Vamp then you are less than nothing. Being a wulf (yep, that’s how it’s spelled in this book) makes you the social outcasts. Danny Gray’s little problem is that he’s half wulf and half vamp and up until now the incomplete genetic treatments he received has gotten him by leaving people to believe that his other half is human. The vamps are now socially acceptable upper crust, since they don’t have to munch on humans anymore because SynHeme (synthetic blood) was developed. The wulves, on the other hand, can’t control their changing with the moon and are seen as ugly and the lowest level of social standing. Every month they are locked up for their change in government compounds. So, if you can avoid being a wulf, then you do. Danny’s treatments were never finished and his body may not be able to hold off the change the rest of his life, but will it hold off long enough to get out of high school or will it begin and change his life forever?

I wasn’t expecting this book to roll out the way it did. I guess I was expecting it to take itself as serious as the other vampire type books out there, so, when it went more the direction of Fat Vampire (that would be tongue in cheek, for those who have not read it) it took me a while to stagger back up to an upright position and settle in. A few little things bugged me off and on, like using made up names for products and celebrities that closely parallel real life names but are twice as corny (you’ll know them when you see them, I would hate to ruin the fun for you). The book was entertaining. It deals a lot with racism, and social class struggles and those always make me think about all that we still face in our “modern” society. I came to appreciate the humor that was in the book and the right level of intensity throughout to keep you going. There are lots of good relationships in story for both genders to get their minds around, and both will have fun reading this book. It’s not going to make you howl with laughter but it will feed your thirst for good reading throughout (little taste of the corny to get you started). Lock yourself up and give yourself a moonlit night of reading. Pre-Order it now so you won't forget to read it in February. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening (UUUUUGGHHH!)

Elena, “Oh I’m so cool and popular why doesn’t this new guy see it. I mean he’s not that hot and all, I just want him to think I am as awesome as I think I am. Did I mention that I get what I want whenever I want it?” blah blah blah High school girl romance reads like middle school girl letters blah blah blah. Stefan has some blood issues (like he’s afraid he wants to drink Elena’s) Elena has control issues, drama, drama. Did I mention that vampire stuff happens.

So, in the end the book wasn’t terrible but it was hardly memorable. I am a closet Vampire Diaries TV show watching freak (I guess it’s out now) and my wife and I have watched the whole series from day one so it took me forever to think of these characters any different than the TV show. So, when they didn’t match up to the characters that I have come to know, it through me off. I happen to like the TV characters better than the book. The romance stuff in the book was so corny that I almost stopped a number of times but out of respect for authors and the hard work they put into their books I felt the necessity to push it to the end. I was definitely not inspired to dig into any more of the books but that’s just me. If you like reading old middle school romance notes and you find that stuff interesting then dig in. If you are a middle school teacher (me for example) you probably get enough of this kind of drama in one hour of teaching. Sorry L.J. Smith but I don’t see many guys digging in and loving it, but like I tell my students, don’t just take my word for it (unless I tell you that you will probably die doing it, speaking of, there is a few people that do this in the book. Maybe that makes it interesting to some people.) I think I am going to stick to the show.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Malice: Are you chickin'?

Tall Jake take me away, Tall Jake Take me away, Tall Ja..(cough, cough). The smoke gets me every time. I’m really not scared about ending up in Malice, it just that this whole burning things insid,e makes me choke every time and can never finish. Fortunately for Tall Jake, many kids don’t have that problem, Malice is one of those places where you get there by doing a little ritual and saying “Tall Jake take me away” six times (then wait around for creepy Tall Jake to whisk you away to the fun little place we call Malice).  Malice is also the name of a crazy comic book about Tall Jake and the kids that he takes. Of course, this is all just a big rumor and not really true at all (I have never seen this comic book). None of the kids really believe it to be true until Kady’s and Seth’s friend Luke disappears and a copy of Malice is found in his room with blank pages. Seth can’t let it go and things get weird for Kady after they begin to dig deeper into a story of a kid who recently reappeared after having gone missing and can’t remember anything about where he was. When Luke fails to reappear, Kady and Seth set out to find answers to connect Malice with the missing kids.

This book is mostly a regular novel but contains portions of graphic novel as we see pages of the comic Malice. The format works great for the book and I found myself pushing forward to get to the next graphic novel portion. It wasn’t an incredibly scary book but it did have that eerie feel at parts, as it kicked me back to the looking in the mirror in the dark with a candle and saying “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.” It’s that whole thing of knowing it shouldn’t be true but scared that it might be. Tall Jake and Malice exist in this realm of rumor/myth. The idea was original and pretty intense all the way through. There is plenty of intense action and originality in this story and it kept me going. Did I mention that the hardcover book has an awesome 3D cover with Tall Jake on the front that drew everyone in who saw it? Well, It does, and it’s definitely cool. This is an everyone book that will leave you saying, “Tall Jake take me away.” (I think I only managed to say “Tall Jake take me away” four times, eeeeee, five times. That was close I almost said, “Tall Jake take me away” six times while this stupid concoction was still burning. Oh my gosh, what was that scratching. Momma?) 

Beastly: Why can't you just kiss my ugly face?

Arrogant overly vain Kyle treats people like crap because he’s so cool he can, mistreats the wrong chick so she takes away everything that makes him likable by turning him into an ugly beast. Now instead of getting all the chicks he wants, he can’t help but scare them away and everyone else along with them. One small catch, he has 2 years to get a girl to love him and kiss him or he stays the way he is forever (If I were writing this story I might call it Beauty Becomes the Beast and Then Can’t Change Back, but that would be a really long title so maybe Beastly works)

I know, just like me, you’re probably thinking, why redo a story that is such a household tale, and I’m not sure I know the answer to this. I will tell you, despite the fact that this whole story was so familiar, I couldn’t help but find myself still cheering for this character and getting involved in the story. The characters were written well enough to keep me engaged in spite of the story being so well known for me (penalty of growing up with a young sister who loved Disney movies).   In the end the story takes a slight unexpected turn and it ended up not all that bad. If you don’t mind a change-up of traditional fairy tales and would like another shot at Beauty and the Beast then this story beats watching the roses grow. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (Is teen alien redundant?)

Daniel X is your run of the mill teenage alien hunter hunting down the universe’s most wanted aliens. Did I mention that he can manipulate matter. (Insert eye roll here with long overly dramatic sigh.) What do you mean that you don’t think there’s anything “run of the mill” about teenage alien hunters? You don’t know what it means to manipulate matter? Okay, I’ll come down off my scientific high horse and speak to the “lay person.” He can make things real by imagining them to be, using stuff that already exists around him. Let me give you an example: he makes his friends by thinking them up and making them real, tangible, able to talk and act and think using atoms in the air. So, I guess that makes him unusual even for aliens (man am I off to a good start).  Daniel is hunting down alien outlaws on a list of aliens that live on planet earth (aka Terra Firma) or at least hang out here from time to time. He’s seeking revenge for the death of his parents (aren’t they all) who were killed by some other worldly giant praying mantis called, none other than, the Prayer. This time Daniel is seeking #6 Ergent Seth, and he may just have bit off more than he can chew.

The whole idea was kind of goofy from the start, but I kind of liked it anyway. Maybe I thought the story was about me (aka Daniel) or maybe it was just kind of fun. It was a pretty quick read and it was entertaining enough to want to read the other books in the series. As a science teacher, I always wonder why with all the diversity of life on our planet alone (don’t even get me started about Gliese 581), why are most aliens always pictured being like something that we already know. Kids are surprised everyday by little crazy looking things they discover in the microscope, but yet we can’t even stretch our imagination to come up with something with a different and strange form unlike anything we see on our planet (The Host by Stephanie Meyer was a pretty good form for an alien in my opinion)? With all that being  said, I think middle-schoolers and those with a liking for some good, quick, clean entertainment will enjoy their flight through this book. I’ll put the series on my list.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rot & Ruin, fleshes out the inhumanity of it all.

Rot & ruin is what everyone calls the world outside of Mountainside. Mountainside is a protected village walled off from the world of the dead to protect the remaining living. Benny Imura is just trying to get by in life and trying to keep his food rations coming despite turning fifteen, the point at which not having a job would result in no food. Benny doesn’t really want to work at all, but he wants to keep eating. Benny’s brother Tom is a zombie hunter and wants Benny to join him in the family business. Their parents died during the zombie outbreak and Benny has little memory of that night. What Benny remembers about that night is that his brother was a coward because he took Benny and ran leaving their parents behind. When Benny fails to find a job that he wants to do, he agrees to join his brother on a trip out into the Rot & Ruin, a trip that will change the way he sees his brother and the way that he views his own life.

This book is not what I expected it to be. I guess I was expecting a slash and gash zombie flick special with a cover as intense as this book has. This book has its fair share of zombies but it isn’t about zombies as much as it’s about family, death, loss, life, and justice. There are some great moments that caused me to reflect on how we look at things like life and death and good and evil. Sometimes the way we see things is all about the perspective we are seeing it from, and sometimes a change in perspective can change you so much that you can’t see life the same way again. Taking the journey with Benny and Tom out into the Rot & Ruin is a journey worth taking and I would recommend it for even the non-zombie fan (I mean, zombies will obviously love it so no need to make a recommendation there). To all the zombie fans out there, shamble over to the book store or the library because this is a zombie book that you will want to add to your collection. In the words of the famous zombie uuuuuguguuuuh (that roughly translates to, “you need to read this book because we zombies don’t get the respect that we deserve and this book offers the change in perspective that you might need to understand where we are coming from). *

*This review is sponsored by PETZ (People for the Ethical Treatment of Zombies). The book and the author of the book are in no way directly affiliated with this organization (or lack there of) nor is this review the result of payment by the organization to the author of the blog (seeing as the organization lacks the funding to pay anyone properly because they are spending the majority of their budget trying to keep our shuffling, rotting flesh, walking corpse buddies from busting out on the general population).  

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Boy Who Dared (to give the Nazis the middle finger).

I sit and think about what a chicken I was to even speak out against the treatment of people in school when I was 16, let alone stand up to an unjust and corrupt government. During WWII, there were many people that risked their lives to stand up against what the Nazi government was doing and to bring to light the lies that were being told to the German people. One of these people was a 16 year old German boy named Helmuth Hübener, whose anger overflowed to the point of protest. He spoke out against the Nazis who were running his home country and did what he could to spread the truth about what was going on. The Boy Who Dared is a fictional account of his life.

This book, like all books about brave people standing up to injustice, pulls my emotional strings. It definitely wasn’t The Book Thief but it was pretty good none the less. Because the book is relatively short, the depth of the characters is not felt as much as other book I have read about the same time period. I did learn a few new interesting things about being a German in Germany at the time of the Nazis’ and Hitler’s rise, and I was driven to that point of asking myself the same question as I had with other books, “how was there not more people who saw how twisted and messed up the whole Hitler thing was and did something about it?” I know that fear has a big role and we see this in the book, but it made me proud to know that out of all the people that stood up and said ‘I can’t let this happen’ there was a teenage boy. For all the adults that look down their noses at teenagers and think they are so far past those times, we are reminded that sometimes the courage and depth of youth can far exceed that of adults. This is another one of those books where I wonder how engaging it would be to a teen boy and only time on the shelves will tell the tale.   

Handbook For Boys. Bust out the barbershop chair.

Talk about taking me back to the days of hanging out in the barber shop and crackin’ on all the goofballs from the neighborhood that come in to get their hair cut (wait, that was a movie not my life).  Jimmy gets himself into a bit of trouble that could land him in jail but he is “rescued” by a man named Duke who mentors youth by having them work at his barbershop. Jimmy and another guy, Kevin, are made to keep the place clean (even though it is almost always spotless) allowing them time to spend with Duke and the other guys that hang out at the neighborhood barbershop. People with problems come and go through the barbershop and their stories provide the jumping point for life’s lessons that Duke and his buddies pass on to the boys. Jimmy is forced to think about the way he views life because of the things that he sees and hears while working in the shop.

This book cracked me up from the very beginning. The three old guys in the shop are always clownin’ and teasing the boys but always in a way that challenges the way that they are living their lives. This book made me wish that I had a barbershop to hang out in with old wise guys, or wiseguys depending on who you are, that dish their knowledge about life in a way that kids can relate to. It’s reminded me a lot of my classroom, except I’m not really old and wouldn’t consider myself to have the same level of wisdom that age has brought these guys. Okay, so I guess I’m mostly the wiseguy part working toward the wise guy. I have read a number of the parts again and again because they still make me crack up. This was another one of those books that made me think about life while making me laugh. I think I’ll ask a couple of my students to take it for a test drive and see how the story rolls out for them. If you like to laugh and learn and long for your version of Barbershop then pull up a stool and a broom and take a seat. Or you could scrape some gum off the floor while you listen, which ever you prefer. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lord of the Flies: Classic, not Crap


It was time to dig into a classic again. I heard a lot about Lord of the Flies and how it inspired many an author to write their own stories. So, into the flies I dug. The story (for those who have not read it) is about a group of boys that find themselves stuck on an island without adults as a result of a plane crash. It follows the boys as they try to find a way of survival on the island together. The boys struggle with issues of authority, order, disagreement, division, selfishness and much more. In the end you are left with the thought of how parallel this whole story plays out to the world of adults. The story runs much like a kids version of survivor but it took me a while to get into because the word choice is slightly different from the YA stuff that I have been reading and it’s British as well. Once I got rolling with it, I really began to like it.

This book did not disappoint in the end. I was left uneasy at times because I couldn’t help but think how this could actually play out given the right set of kids. I kept imagining kids that had passed through my classroom over time and it became disturbing at times as well. I am not sure that the book would carry a middle school kid that is struggling in the reading category from beginning to end if they were to take it out for a drive, but a regular reader would probably find it worth the effort. This is one of those books that you are left wondering if younger readers would get as much out of it as adults, but as an adult it’s hard to work out if the book was good because of the hindsight we carry into reading it or because it just a good book. With that being said, I would love to hear the opinion of a middle school guy on this book. Although many classics can hardly live up to the hype (in my opinion) this one did the job for me and earns the title of classic.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Seriously, he was the real deal.

My understanding of history has been turned on its head. I can’t believe that Abraham Lincoln was not just a president but also bonafide vampire hunter. This book covers his whole life from birth to death, including the 40 years of hunting vampires. Ole’ Abe must have grown up on the stories of George Washington cutting down the cherry tree because the first weapon he picked up to chase down those heathens with sharp fangs and a thirst for blood is his trusty axe. Much of Abe’s early life choices were made based on his desire to pay back vampires for the death of his mother. It all starts with his father’s drunken story of watching his father killed at the hands of a vampire, a story told before countless times but never with the vampire ending. With this story of vampires, Abe’s eyes are opened to a world he thought only myth, and so were mine. Did you know that the slave trade was mostly a result of vampires? So was the civil war. What? Wait a minute. My wife says that the whole vampire part of the story isn’t supposed to be real. AHHH MAAANNN! That totally messes up the review. I was thinking that Abe spent his life ridding the world by hacking up vampires with his axe, splitting their heads in two, cleaving their bo…….apparently that’s too much for some of the reading audience, so the “censors” say (who are the censors anyway).  Hey, even if the vampires aren’t “real” (whatever that means), and the vampires didn’t “really” play a major role in the Civil War (maybe a minor role but probably not major, or not, because like my wife said “the vampire parts are made up”), the book is the best biography of a major political figure that I have read yet (political biographies being a genre that probably contains a fair amount of less interesting “fiction”).

This book is ultimately a heavy dose of non-fictional storytelling with a bit of twisted fun mixed in for good measure. Another great book for those of us that like history but can’t stay awake for the textbook style of non-fiction. I was even inspired to check up on the life of Abe Lincoln and was surprised at how parallel this story ran to the accounts of his actual life (assuming you still believe vampires aren’t real, although try telling that to Bella). The non-fiction feel to the story at times will turn off the majority of action flick readers because the action comes in bursts just like it does in real life. I mean if Abe was running around chopping off heads and splat…..(oh, sorry I forgot, no gratuitous violence) or um, doing vampire hunting stuff all the time, when would he have found time for his family and political career. I was entertained and I was taught, and that’s more than I can say for a lot of other books I have read. If you like history and you don’t mind a few Zombieland homages, then dig in and go for the ride.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mockingjay has sung its song, and all went quiet. (100% spoiler free)

It is with great sadness that I report that, for me, The Hunger Games are officially over. It’s not that I want more, it just rare that books come along that pull people in the way that this series has. I will not give a summary because of the popularity of the books and encourage people to look up the plot summary on Amazon or some other site. What I want to give is just my gut reaction to the books.

First of all I will say that, in my opinion, The Hunger Games books have slightly edged out the Harry Potter books. Harry Potter connected us to a world beyond our imagination with great characters and fantastical creatures, but The Hunger Games series pushes us to consider the extremes of our own human natures. We are left to consider our own response to our “enemies,” war, friends, family, and those that live around us. I am always amazed when I am yanked into a story and the lives of the characters at a level that almost seems idiotic to feel or be at with a fictional group of people. I found myself mad, a lot, at the injustices they faced, laughing at the humanity of their interactions, and saddened in their times of pain. I love it when books pull me in so deep that I have long moments of time where the house could be crashing down and I wouldn’t even notice (I have toddlers so this could have very well been happening). There were times during this series that I was so into the reading that I forgot I was even reading a book. My mind wandered along with the scenes like they were movies being played out on the big screen. In the end I was sad to see it go but satisfied to know it was over. The series is a no brainer recommendation for anyone looking for something to read, and Mockingjay will not disappoint those that have waited so long to find out how it ends.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Everything I know about Egypt I learned from The Red Pyramid

Carter and Sadie Kane were separated after the death of their mom. Carter traveled the world with his archeologist dad and Sadie was sent to London to grow up with her grandmother. They see each other about once a year and, as per norm for siblings (except for me and mine), don’t get along even then. Their pops specializes in ancient Egyptian stuff and invites them along for a little late night visit to the Rosetta stone inside the British Museum (which is a pretty cool place BTW). That’s where the crazy things start happening and Carter and Sadie find themselves with the fate of the world on their shoulders. They have some help from some unlikely “people” and along the way find out some unimaginable things about who they are and what they are supposed to do.

First of all, we should be incredibly grateful to all the teens that quietly go about saving the world without us ever noticing. Secondly, we should be happy that they don’t ever ask us normal folk to get involved because I don’t have the time for it. Thirdly, we should be thankful that Rick Riordan is there to write their stories. I was afraid from the beginning that this book was going to be Percy Jackson re-do, which was fine because some of us couldn’t get enough of Percy and his friends, but Rick Riordan managed to veer off the path significantly and make it stand on its own. If you listen to the audio book you get to hear Carter and Sadie in two distinct voices as they record their story into an audio recorder. Carter sounds like your every day teen boy and Sadie is a snarky sister with a British accent (appropriate for someone who grew up in London). The interaction between the two made me chuckle to myself many a times and it reminded me of the constant banter that can exist between all siblings (once again mine excluded). Lots of tongue in cheek humor and great characters made for an entertaining book and a great start to the series. I would have to go out on a limb (carefully of course) and say that those that liked Percy Jackson will love this book as well. If the familiarity of the Greek gods is what kept you in the story before then the unfamiliarity of the Egyptian gods and myths will keep you in the story this time. If you haven’t read Percy Jackson (you should) The Red Pyramid will be an entertaining and fun filled learning event. I learned a lot about Egyptology from this book and as I have said before, if I can learn, laugh, and be entertained by the same book then it’s all good in the hood (okay I didn’t say it exactly like that but I wanted to this time).    

Friday, August 27, 2010

Clockwork Angel (advance reading copy) tick tock, tick tock, time to get it!

Tessa Gray’s world is turned upside down when, after the death of her parents and her aunt, she receives a letter from her brother in England requesting her to join him there. Victorian England has more for Tessa than she could have ever imagined. The world she thought she once knew lives right alongside a world she never knew and she is trapped between the two fighting, quite literally, for her life.  She is not alone, and together with a mysterious group called the Shadowhunters, and a host of others, she works to come to grips with who she is and to try and rescue her brother from the grasps of people who threaten to kill him.

This book leaves me tangled up in how to review it. I really liked it and I can’t quite put my finger on the why. The world in which Tessa finds herself is so familiar at times, and so new at the same time. Not having read the Mortal Instrument series first, I can honestly say that this was unlike any book I have read. I liked the new twists and combinations to some old things. Vampires, werewolves, warlocks, angels, demons, humans, and other beings all mixed together and intermingled. I loved the idea of mysterious overlapping worlds, places, and people that exist but few can see. I love London, and to throw this whole world into that, took me to some awesome places. The characters were complex and realistic and I even repeatedly called one of the characters a jerk (I think I also described the same guy as a dillweed somewhere in a conversation as well). Sometimes in books that take place in days gone by the characters don’t often fit the setting. Sometimes their responses, especially between genders, often feel out of place and inappropriate for the time. The responses of the characters in this book had the opposite effect on me in that they kept reminding me that this is Victorian England and not modern day. This book was unpredictable and finished strong. If you are a reader then you should add this to your “to read” list. If you are a Cassie Clare fan already, this is a “can’t miss”. For the rest of you, I would definitely give it a try. This book is set to release 8/31/2010.

Now, since we are on the topic of Clockwork Angel, I should probably address the team Will/Jem debate from a guys perspective. Like I said from nearly the beginning of the book, I don’t even see why there is a debate. Will is a jerk. I don’t care if he has issues he has to work through and he has a bunch of stuff that leads to him being the way he is, he still really is a dillweed (there is the conversation for those who are not my wife and therefore were not here to hear it the first time). I’m thinking that given the current knowledge about both characters there is no way that Tessa should be with Will. If not Jem, then Tessa should just chill with the not being with anyone. If you like Will because you think that he’s just complicated and if you could just get around him you could fix him, not going to happen, first of all because he is a character in a book and secondly because you can’t fix that and thirdly because you couldn’t fix him if he was real. His personality is such that any time life gets complicated and he hurts he’s going to hurt others. He might resolve his current issues but if new ones come up he is likely to respond the same way. Jem has come to terms with his lot in life. He’s already matured with what has been put before him. With Tessa’s life already a mess, she doesn’t need what Will brings. Spoken from the mouth of a teacher, big brother, husband, and dad. That’s my two cents worth. So, team Jem, I guess, but I think the little clockwork angel is pretty cool too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is Barking Good Guy Lit

A British soldier aboard a flying hydrogen-filled whale-like living flying beast. An Austro-Hungarian prince in a two legged walking war machine. Both being chased by the Germans as war looms on the horizon. Deryn Sharp, who goes by Dylan, is a British soldier that’s not supposed to be one because girls can’t be soldiers. Alek, is the son of the Austro-Hungarian king that was murdered by the Serbians and begins the war which becomes WWI. But, this isn’t exactly the WWI that we have come to know. There are genetically modified living beasts on the British “Darwinist” side and gigantic mechanical beasts on the German “Clanker” side. Deryn and Alek meet in a not so idealic situation in which they are forced to make an unlikely alliance for all of them to survive. They forge together aboard the great British Naval beast Leviathan on a journey that will challenge them both and leave them changed.

This book is a guy book. I’m not saying that girls won’t like it, because I can think of a few that would, I’m just saying that it’s got a lot of stuff that guys tend to find cool. There’s action, guns, big loud clanging machines, giant fantastical beasts, some fighting between the two, some cool illustrations of the monsters and machines, it’s just got a bit of testosterone, that’s all. Most of all, stuff happens, and that’s what a lot of guy readers are hoping for. The best part is that this is just the beginning of the whole thing, so there is more. Now. being a Westerfeld fan, I had already set this book up to succeed, but that doesn’t mean that it is not a good book. Even the cover is mantastic. This cover allows a guy to carry the book with pride. As a science teacher and someone who loves history I especially love this book for its ability to bring up conversation regarding these two subjects. The book parallels the timeline of WWI and some of the details surrounding the war (which Westerfeld talks about in the Afterword). The book also has a bit of talk about the science behind some of the Darwinist beasts and could definitely be used to talk about genetics and the possibilities of some of the creations described in the book. Great stuff. This book should be read by anyone who has a hankering for steampunk or just loves to dig into the creative and not so crazy worlds of Scott Westerfeld. If you liked the Uglies books then you will like these as well. Remember that the Star Trek communicators used to seem crazy and now look at the iPhone.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Homies (WA author):The Line by Teri Hall is only the begining



The Line is a small section of the National Border Defense System set up by the government to protect from outside invaders. At least that’s what they are being told. The National Border Defense System is an impenetrable invisible border surrounding the country. Rachel and her mother live and work on the Property which is far out in the woods near the Line. Stories abound about what exists on the other side of the Line and most of them are scary enough to keep people away. Things get strange for Rachel when a recorder with a message floats into her possession. The broken message is asking for help. Rachel must sort out the fact and fiction to find out what’s really going on with the Line.

Fantastic set-up for the series. The book introduces us to Rachel, her mother Vivian, and the woman they live with and work for Ms. Moore. You have to keep in mind that this is only part one of a series and take it like any other first. Rachel’s struggle with the idealized version of childhood and her growing awareness of the real world makes her question what she has been told. She really wants to do what’s right but has to sort through a lot to find it. This is a big part of growing up and is the fun part of watching (reading about) this age group. The tension builds slowly throughout the book as you move alongside Rachel as she begins to piece together the storyline of her life and how they arrived where they are. There are a lot of secrets that don’t begin to be answered until well into the book and so you keep reading to find out more. The suspense builds and builds and then…you reach the end of the book. I even had a moment where I had thought the pages had stuck together and I actually wish they had. When I got to the end, I wasn’t finished. I wanted more and there wasn’t any. The best part is that I know it’s coming. If the books that follow are better than the first, this is going to be a fantastic series and very intense. According to the website http://www.terihall.com the sequel Away should be released in 2011. I can only hope I get a hold of an advance reader copy of that.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce Gets the Man Stamp

CASTER RATED APPROVED
Family is one of those things that you can only mess with if you are part of it. If you mess with someone else’s family, you better watch out. Rosie March was just a little girl when the fenris, more commonly called werewolves, killed her Oma (that's her grandma). Scarlett March was old enough to defend Rosie and to remember the whole event. The fenris messed with Scarlett’s family, and she is driven by this event to track down every last fenris and kill them so they won’t hurt others.  Together Rosie and Scarlett hunt the fenris that cross their paths in the small Georgian town of Ellison. Scarlett’s only passion is to hunt, but Rosie begins to want more out of life, and some of that involves Scarlett’s only friend Silas. The sisters work to keep the strong bond they have while finding themselves pulled apart by their desires.


This was my first “werewolf” (yep, werewolf virgin) novel and it was an awesome place to start.  This book was surprisingly action packed and once I sat down to read it, I didn’t put it down. The fight scenes are intense and fast paced. Ok, so there is some hugging and kissing and snuggling, but it’s spread out just enough to make it fit and not feel goofy. Let’s just say that the combo works and it won’t feel too girly for a guy. Now I am going to have to give this book the Caster Rated stamp of approval because like Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness you might not want your buddies seeing you with these books unless you plan to do a lot of explaining, but it’s not a girly book so you’re gonna want to give it a shot. Just get the hardback and take off the paper cover.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (So good I could steal it, but I won't)

You ever sit back and wonder how the holocaust could have happened? Have you ever wondered how Germans could sit by and let Hitler do what he did? The Book Thief shows us the side of the story we don’t often hear. Liesel Meminger, a young German girl, finds herself in foster care at the beginning of World War II. Liesel is drawn to books after she allows herself to steal the “Gravedigger’s Handbook.” She is taught to read in the basement of her foster home by her “papa” Hans Huberman and she can’t get enough of books from then on out. Liesel’s life would be quite ordinary had she not been in Germany during World War II, but the fact is that she found herself smack dab in the middle of all of it and continued to make the most out of it as children often do. Liesle has friends, does crazy things, swears at her friends (especially her best friend Rudy), and steals what she can’t buy. Liesel is a kid growing up in the face of a bleak world and she is not spared from the darkness of those days in Europe. The story is told from the perspective of Death (yes, Death is the actual narrator of the story). So if you expect a happy ending, you probably shouldn’t read a book that is being told to you by Death itself.

Despite its dark beginnings, this book gives you many opportunities to smile. What an amazing frickin’ book. The story makes you aware of the humanness of war, the darkness of war, the unfairness of it all, and the incredible strength of people that is only seen during times of war. You are reminded that there are people with kids, spouses, grandparents, friends, co-workers, siblings, and other relations that are on both sides of the war. You are reminded that many people affected by war are really just trying to live their lives and yet are considered the enemy by where they live. I loved these characters. I loved the German swearwords, not for the swearing but for the realness that it brought the characters. Rudy and Liesel’s adventures together made me laugh and reminded me of my days as a kid (minus the stealing of course). I was reminded that sometimes terrible things happen because sometimes they just do, just like good things. Sometimes in the worst of moments people are just trying to help everyone survive. Liesle and her family reminded me that we are all capable of extremes, not because we are evil or good, but because we are human. This is a book everyone should read at some point in their lives. It’s not action packed, it’s dark, but it’s real. This book definitely deserves the Grand Poobah.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Firelight (advance reading copy) by Sophie Jordan

As a teen you always feel like the world wants you to be what you are not. There are pressures from every side while you are going through incredible changes and trying to figure your own self out. Jacinda is no different than most teens in this respect except she is unique for her species. Jacinda has special abilities for a draki, descendents of dragons who take on human form as a means of survival. Because her ability is so unique, she is being forced to take a position that she does not want to take. To escape her fate, her family flees into the world of the humans where she struggles blend in. She connects with Will, a draki hunter, who she finds herself irresistibly drawn to despite what it could mean to the safety of her and her family.  Jacinda finds herself torn between what others want her to be and being who she feels like she is, especially when who she really is puts others in danger.

I almost didn’t get past Jacinda’s internal pining for Will, but I’m glad I kept reading. I really liked the theme dealing with everyone’s struggle to be the person we are inside. The book doesn’t resolve this issue but has a lot of room to talk about this topic. The thing that worked to keep me reading the book was this tension that results because of the relationship of Jacinda and Will. Jacinda is the prey and Will and his family are the predators and they now find themselves together. Jacinda is afraid that if Will or his family finds out what she really is it may end in her death and the death of her family. The story was compelling and I finished it in one day. I have a sneaking suspicion that the story is not over and I’m happy with that. This book is a great book for anyone that enjoys reading young adult books. I don’t think it will have a great appeal to the boys on the lower end of the young adult scale but I don’t think that should stop them from giving it a chance. I really liked the change up to the whole dragons thing, and setting them in a contemporary setting was fun too. I kind of like the whole modern fantasy stuff and I think I could do with reading more. This book is set to released 9/7/2010. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fahrenheit 451 The Authorized Adaptation (Graphic Novel) by Ray Bradbury


Books make us feel. Books make us think. Books can have opposing ideas. Books can make us unhappy. Books must be burned. Firemen are the book burners and the guardians of happiness. Guy Montag is a fireman but his life is shaken when he meets a strange girl who is so free from the constraints that others around him have. The freedom of life that this girl has and the conviction of people whose books he was charged to burn causes Montag to question the way that life has become. Things are supposed to be carefree and happy with books out of the way but he’s unhappy and so are so many others. Montag must make a choice to play the game or try to change the game they are playing.

The Graphic novel is an authorized version of the book so it is very true to the original story. Like movies, graphic novels don’t have room for all the details but this is very well done. The illustrations are in action hero comic styling and the color is great. Fahrenheit 451  is one of the best classics that I have read and I can’t even put my finger on the reason why. I like that Montag is not content with the status quo (keeping things the same). I like that he keeps asking questions and doesn’t give up in the face of losing everything. I like that this story makes you think about the importance of books and the purpose that they serve in this world. This book can be a bit challenging and is not an easy mindless read. There is a lot here and the graphic novel does not make it any less challenging of a topic. It’s a book worth digging into, whether it is in the graphic novel format or in the original novel format. Here’s my favorite quote: “Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together in garments for us.” That sums up books for me…the magic is in how it is put together and this book is magic. Illustrations were done by Tim Hamilton. 

Homies (OK/WA authors): Knights Of The Hill Country by Tim Tharp

I hope to regularly spotlight young adult authors from the two states I call home (Oklahoma and Washington). This is the first and I chose it because it is written by a local author and sounded Friday-Night-Lightsish. Let’s face it, football is big-time here in Oklahoma and I have watched every episode of Friday Night Lights so this was an easy sell for me.

Friendships are the hardest thing about life. If they are true friendships they always take work and rarely come easy. Hampton Green has had his friend Blaine by his side since he moved to Kennisaw in elementary school. Blaine’s dad became a father figure to him when things weren’t great at home, and most of all they were the reason Hampton got into football to begin with. Blaine is a big headed cocky running back and Hampton is the beastie coolheaded middle linebacker and this is reflected in their personalities both on and off the field. In a small town like Kennisaw, where everyone knows everything, Hampton finds difficulty in being who he wants to be and still fitting in where he always has.

Guys will find the character of Hampton to be familiar. There are a lot of us Hamptons out there that are just doing their thing and liking what they do. He doesn’t fit the stereotype guy high school athlete that is overly aggressive and sex crazed (that would be his friend Blaine). The Blaines of this world become the ones to set the tone for the rest of us guys and that is rather unfortunate because there are more Hamptons out there than Blaines. Hampton is not entirely confident (especially when out of his element) even though he might pretend to be. He’s embarrassed sometimes by his mother’s behavior. He knows he’s not great with the ladies even though they find him attractive. He has a friend that does stupid stuff that gets them both into trouble because Hampton can’t figure out how to be loyal to himself and his friends. There is a girl he likes that isn’t “football player material” that he’s afraid to be with because of how his friends think it looks. Hampton is the everyday guy who happens to be good at what he does, which happens to be football. This was a great story and in the vein of Friday Night Lights. If you are not a fan of football, you need to know that this is not just a football story and you will find lots to like about this story. If you are a fan of football this story will be even better because you’ll enjoy it for the football as well. This book is a recommend for everyone. BTW This story is very true to small town Oklahoma and Texas, which should be expected from someone who grew up in Oklahoma.  

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Zombie Nights Unexpectedly Enertaining (ebook from smashwords.com)

You ever wake up feeling like a zombie? Your head isn't clear, you stumble around in the dark, and you smell like death(okay maybe not quite death). Dave Conner rolls over in his grave (quite literally) and starts walking around but has no clue how he got there. He ends up at the house of a family member who takes him in despite his peculiar odors and sloughing skin (and the oozing hole in his abdomen). Dave can't remember anything about himself or the life he had. His story unfolds as he wanders the town at night longing for the familiarity of life.

I had no expectations and nothing to lose in reading this story. I downloaded it for free to my Nook from Smashwords.com  because it sounded good. It definitely didn't disappoint. I actually felt for Dave and would have read a longer version with this character's full story playing out. The short story (novella) worked for me and had some good twists and turns throughout. You come to realize that zombies aren't all that bad they're just misunderstood (they don't all want to chase you around until you stumble and they pounce on you and eat your brains out). Zombie fans will like this book for the unique take on the zombie tradition and non zombie fans will like it for the lack of cerebral chomping action and the non-zombie zombie story. This story made me want to check out more from author Tom Lichtenberg. This can also be ordered on Amazon.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Guys Read: Funny Business (Advance Reading Copy ebook)


If talking turkeys. mummy mishaps, and lots of stupid friends sounds like your kind of holiday then this is the kind of anthology (bunch of stories in one book) for you. This book is a collection of 10 stories from some of the funniest guy authors on the planet. There are ten stories written by Mac Barnett , Adam Rex (author of Fat Vampire), Eoin Colfer (author of Artemis Fowl), Jeff Kinney (author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Kate DiCamillo (not a guy but equally funny),  Jon Scieszka, David Yoo, David Lubar, Christopher Paul Curtis, Paul Feig, and Jack Gantos. Funny Business wasn’t all funny but it was all business.

The stories in this anthology were good stories that were fun to read, but coming into it with a title like Funny Business I was expecting to be laughing my little booty off, and it just wasn’t happening. Don’t get me wrong, the book is a great book I just think it’s not all that funny for me. I definitely read a lot of parts throughout the stories that will have your 4th grader rolling on the ground. Kid Appeal by David Lubar and “What? You Think You Got It Rough?” by Christopher Paul Curtis were the highlights of book and had me chuckling out loud (not totally laughing but a good healthy chuckle). This book is definitely a middle grade book (4th, 5th, and 6th grade) and a great book to hand to that new reader at that level. If you read it without getting your hopes up about how much you will laugh then you will enjoy it all the way through. Guys Read: Funny Business is the first in a group of books targeted at guys in the middle grades. It will be released 8/21/2010 and later books will follow that will all have a different focus (ie horror, action, and whatever else they come up with.) It is also tied to http://www.guysread.com which is the same group of guys that are trying to get other guys to read by “connecting them with materials they will want to read, in ways they like to read.” 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Magnificent 12: The Call by Michael Grant (Advance Reading Copy)

Phobias, not fears. Mack has phobias. He’s scared of all sorts of stuff. Okay, he’s terrified of all sorts of stuff. Sure, we all have a fear or two but Mack has more than a few. The crazy thing, he’s not scared of stuff he should be, like the bullies in his school. Mack’s lack of fear for things that really should be scary for him puts him in a situation to be an unlikely hero for a particular bully. When weird mud boy shows up at his house and old dude shows up in the toilet (okay, it’s actually just the reflection on the toilet pipe) Mack begins to find out that he is part of the Magnificent Twelve and he is charged with tracking down the other eleven 12 year old Magnifica and stopping someone called the Dread Foe, all while he’s in the potty and just trying to get back to class.

This book is non-stop humor from beginning to end. The humor is reminiscent of movies like The Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Men In Tights, and Monty Python’s The Search For The Holy Grail. I might classify the humor as comedic commentary. I like the way that the comedy flows out between the lines of the book. At no point did I just laugh hysterically, as I have been known to do when the mood strikes, but it had a way of keeping me at a regular chuckle. The book is mostly middle grade material and is good clean fun. There is plenty in the book to keep one entertained even if you find yourself not being twelve anymore (or two or three times that much). If you are a regular reader, you will find it’s a quick read. This is a good book for those middle grade guys that wouldn’t admit they are readers and try to hold true to that in real life. The best part is that there will be more books, so if you like these, there’s more where that came from. The Magnificent 12: The Call is the first book in the series. It will be released 8/24/2010.   

Monday, July 5, 2010

Enter to Win an Advance Reader Copy of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer


Cafe Saturday has a contest running until July 19th to win an ARC copy of Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. Just click on the link and fill out the form. Win NightShade ARC

Description:
While other teenage girls daydream about boys, Calla Tor imagines ripping out her enemies’ throats. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. Calla was born a warrior and on her eighteenth-birthday she’ll become the alpha female of the next generation of Guardian wolves. But Calla’s predestined path veers off course the moment she saves the life of a wayward hiker, a boy her own age. This human boy’s secret will turn the young pack's world upside down and forever alter the outcome of the centuries-old Witches' War that surrounds them all. {from Goodreads}

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Replacement (Advance Reading Copy) by Brenna Yovanoff is a Braintwisting Tale.


Growing up can be quite a memorable experience. We struggle to find ways to fit in, find out who we are, and find where we belong.  Growing up in a small town comes with its own challenges, and Mackie Doyle’s little town of Gentry is no exception. The people of Gentry have always known that something was different about the way their little town works but nobody wants to talk about. Mackie has always felt a bit strange and out of place but what teenager doesn’t, but with Mackie’s allergies to iron, strange dark eyes, and his sister’s story of him being exchanged in the middle of the night, it’s hard to not feel that you don’t belong. Mackie’s encounter with a stranger on the side of the road launches him on a journey to discover himself and open the doors to secrets that the town of Gentry would rather keep inside.

Let’s start right off by saying that the cover of the book is awesome. There’s just something cool and creepy about the intricately detailed baby stroller with sharp tools hanging over it. There was a lot of confusion for me at the beginning of the story, which I hope was intentional (give it 90 pages or so). The journey was muddy and paralleled the experience Mackie was having in trying to find his own answers.  The book trucked along well after I let go of the confusion and just dwelt in it along with the characters. It was the little details that were difficult at times, especially the iron allergy (struggle for a science teacher because of the prevalence of iron in our surroundings). Apparently this is a common knowledge trait to faery stories, which I never picked up from the book  that this was.  This book is ultimately a story about Mackie finding out that where you come from does not define who you are. This book is a must read when it comes out. It kept me trying to figure it out long after the last page.  The Replacements is an intense novel and is a great launch for debut author Brenna Yovanoff. The book is set to release in 9/10.   

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2011 Sequoyah Books

With the summer on its way it is time to introduce some of the 2011 Seqouyah books. The books on the list this year are smokin' (just like ole Sequoyah himself), which is kind of disappointing because they will have to beat out Hunger Games to win and I think that's going to be hard to do. With that being said, I was impressed by Paper Towns  by John Green (one of my favorite authors on the planet), The Compound  by S.A. Bodeen was twisted and came with a surprising punch at the end, Burn by Suzanne Phillips was a tough and emotional read, Shift by Jennifer Bradbury was entertaining and made me want to do some bike traveling(and possibly friend losing), and Antsy Does Time by Neal Shusterman makes me smile just thinking about it (Antsy Bonano is one of my favorite characters of all time). I haven't got to all that I want to read from the lists but it is a great list to snag ideas from if you don't know where to start.

Check out the Intermediate and High School masterlists @ cafesaturday.com you can also find reviews of some of these books on the same site if you go to the side bar labels and click on Sequoyah2011 (or just click here if that's too much for your brain to handle, well not here exactly but on the Sequoyah2011 would work). 

(BTW despite the pipe in the mouth of our good buddy, smoking is not encouraged by anyone associated with this blog, the Sequoyah list makers, anyone who publishes the list, people who like books on the list, or by anyone who doesn't find that appealing. If you do find yourself with this habit already, just ask yourself "does Sequoyah look happy with the pipe in his mouth?" I don't think he does, I think that would make him look like Popeye, who also smoked but ate spinach as well.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Enemy: Intense, Disgusting, and Awesome


You killed your parents, or at least watched them die. Everyone has lost parents and the “grownups’ that are left aren’t much for giving advice and taking care of you, unless taking care of you means tearing you up into nice little juicy steaks. Party time, freedom, and fun have run their course and now it’s survival time. Everyone over the age of sixteen has come down with a mysterious illness that leaves them rotting alive and hungry. Main course: kids (and maybe an occasional dog.) The kids aren’t going down like that though and are determined to survive and fight back. After finding themselves drawn to a supermarket called Waitrose, a diverse group of survivors dig deep to become the family that they all lost. But, the losses aren’t over. Resources dwindle and they have to look for options outside their area forcing them to take an offer for refuge at Buckingham Palace. The journey is not easy and opens them up to threats and questions beyond what the grownups have thrown their way.

The Enemy was described to me as “disgustingly awesome,” and I would have to second that. I really liked this book. Kids aren’t stupid and this book draws on that point again and again. This is ultimately a story about people pulling together in the face of extreme adversity and making it work. It’s also a story about people, so with that you get lots of conflict, you get mistrust, you get deception, manipulation, kindness, caring, and love. Oh, and you get the people attacking other people to eat them, not metaphorical. This book keeps rolling right on to the final page. I was left satisfied but still thinking about where it would go next. Charlie Higson has done a tremendous job reminding us of the resiliency of kids to carry on even when there seems to be no hope. He’s also done a tremendous job creeping me out. This book is a recommend for everyone who enjoys reading and is not squeamish. Hey even if you are a bit of a softy, go ahead and give it a whirl. It’s a bit like going to the haunted house because you know it will mess with your head.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Rise of Renegade Xcellent

Are your parents supervillians or superheroes? If you are anything like me or Damien Locke then your parents might be both. Sixteen year old Damien Locke wants to be a badass from top to bottom and has set out to follow in the footsteps of his supervillian mom, the Mistress of Mayhem. Thing is, there might be a small problem standing in the way of everything he has planned. He seems to give a rats@$$ about other people. Damien moves in with his dad, a superhero, and plots to prove he is the supervillian he always dreamt to be. And they live happily ever after. The End…. Yeeaaah, don’t think so. Let’s just say, things don’t go according to plan.

Come on, admit it, doesn’t The Rise of Renegade X, sound a bit ummmm corny? I had a funny feeling that was the expected result but you just never know. I knew that if I was right, then this book had to be good. I guess I was right because the book was great. Superheroes and supervillains are the package for an intelligent way of talking about families. We all have families and most days we just live with them and other days we would rather not. Well, like many teens, Damien Locke has two families and eeeuuuhhh they don’t get along. Actually he has his mom, who he lives with, and his dad and family, who he just met. Anyway, this book is about Damien trying to work this out and trying to figure out who he is while dealing with a thumbprint issue (read the book). This book has a very Neal Shusterman The Schwa Was Here or Antsy Does Time feel to it. Damien is the kind of friend that you blindside and knock on the ground because he tripped you in front of the girls and then you laugh and run around calling eachother names. Fun to read. The Rise of Renegade X  is a definite read if you like snarky teens that manage it with a smile, add in a helping of superpowers and gadgets and it’s yummy.   This is just the beginning for author Chelsea Campbell. That’s good for us.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Zombies vs. Unicorns GOOOOAAAAL! (Limited Edition Bound Manuscript)

Killer unicorns and romantic zombies.  This anthology was full of surprises on both sides of the debate. With an all-star cast of authors writing for both sides this book did not disappoint.  Writing for Team Zombie was: Libbay Bray, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Carrie Ryan, and Scott Westerfeld. Writing for Team Unicorn was: Kathleen Duey, Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Margo Lanagan, Naomi Novik, and Diana Peterfreund.  The stories alternate between Zombie and Unicorn and each is prefaced by point and counterpoint by editors Holly Black (Team Unicorn) and Justine Larbalastier (Team Zombie) trying to make their case for which team wins with each story. In the end I think we the readers are the real winners.

This book became the first anthology that I finished in one non-stop run. I was surprised at how deep into each story I was pulled in such a short amount of time. I usually enjoy the books that allow me time to hang out with the characters but these are just great stories that take you there from the start.  I have to admit that I still have a hard time with taking killer unicorns very seriously, but I’m also am not looking for any killer unicorns to make a believer out of me.  In the early part of the book I was ready to hand the match to Team Zombie but there were some pretty great Unicorn stories that brought it within reach for Team Unicorn. They both finished strong with The Third Virgin by Kathleen Duey for Team Unicorn and Prom Night by Libba Bray for Team Zombie. In the end I still have to hand it to Team Zombie. At the end of the day I think I connect better with the kissing undead than the killer Rainbow Brite. This book is a great read and will be a great read for those who find it hard to get into books. This is an excellent book if you are a YA fan and it won’t disappoint. Zombies vs. Unicorns is set to release September 21, 2010.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Girl Parts (advance reading copy)



Charlie is the natural outsider. David is the natural insider. They are both alone and “disconnected.” The treatment for both,  a companion.  Companions are hot girly bots programmed to help those with “dissociative disorder” connect to something in a real and meaningful way, and Rose is the hottest of hot. When David’s companion goes AWOL she finds herself drawn to Charlie and the connection changes both of them forever.

This book was an interesting read. It definitely feels written for a girl audience but I think that some guys would find it at least entertaining considering it was written by a guy. Guys may find a reflective mirror for themselves in the character of Rose as we see how the guys interact with her and how it affects her. The book was an alright read. If you are a reader that doesn’t mind reading the age old girl loses boyfriend, girl connects with another guy, girl is a cyborg programmed to like the other guy then this is the book for you. Girl Parts by John M. Cusick will be released 8/2010.