Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19: Book Reviews and Recommendations

This will probably be my last big group of book reviews for awhile as I've just started school again and have a ton of required reading to do. However, I have been enjoying my last few weeks of freedom and reading up a storm. Most of the books are YA, but there are a couple adult books thrown in for good measure. I can't wait to read Eric Shanower's graphic novel version of The Wizard of Oz and his own Oz books, and Yellow Tanabe's Kekkaishi Volume 10-20!

Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl #7: The Atlantis Complex (*Spoilers*) - I thought the 6th book was better.
Overall, I really liked this book, especially as I have waiting for a month for it to come out so I can continue the series. The only annoying this is now I have to wait forever for the next one to come out, just as the story was getting interesting. Basically, due to Artemis's scheming and evil planning suddenly turning into good intentions, he has developed what the fairies call "Atlantis Complex" which involves an obsession with numbers, paranoia and multiple personalities. I thought the multiple personalities bit a bit boring, though amusing that his alter-ego was love-struck knight in shining armor character and totally useless when it comes to strategy and planning. I loved the whole underwater exploring part of the book and yay for the giant squid! I thought the bad guy's plans where better than usual, aka mesmerizing a whole arena full of luchadore fans to kill Butler and Juliet and gel robots created by the LEP and sabotaged by the villain to do his bidding. The interspecies romance kind of killed the ending for me; I would've thought it would be more spectacular.

Derek Kirk Kim
Good as Lily:
I really enjoyed this short graphic novel from Derek Kirk Kim. I picked up this volume after reading his collaboration with another of my favorite graphic novel writers/illustrators, Gene Luen Yang. The whole idea of this comic is brilliant, and that goes the same for the artwork. Grace is a Korean girl who has just turned 18. After celebrating with her friends at a local park, she goes back home and then remembers she left one of the presents back at the park. While there, she runs into herself at age 6, 29 and 70. How did this happen and why are they all here at the same time? I like that the different ages were like different aspects of her personality and she discovers so much out about herself and how to change.

Yellow Tanabe
Kekkaishi Volume 1 (I have currently read through Volume 9; Below is the series premise)
Cute manga series about a young boy who is to be a great demon-fighter only he doesn't really want to be. He fights with his family's arch-rival, the beautiful Tokine who is a much better fighter than him and frequently kicks his butt. However, he's forever in love with her and fighting to protect her. Yoshimori's real passion is making cake sculptures and other sweets, which of course his grandfather and elder Kekkaishi abhors as it has nothing to do with fighting.

Eric Shanower
Adventures in Oz:
I am a huge Oz fan and always have been. I know Mr. Shanower's work from when he illustrated Edward Einhorn's Oz book Paradox in Oz and he had signed my book. So I was very excited to discover this graphic novel version of his Oz stories. I absolutely love the artwork! It's like all the Oz books I've ever read over the years come to life, like Tik Tok the mechanical man, Professor Wobblebug and the only soldier in Oz. That alone would give it five stars, however, the five stories inside the volume were not that good. What was up with the flying swordfish in the first story? Not to mention all the trolls, dragons and wood nymphs in the Forgotten Forest of Oz story. I did like the Ice King of Oz as that seemed like a true Ozian story. Therefore I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars.

Shannon Hale
Enna Burning:
This book started off so interesting, picking up where Goose Girl left off. Bayern is at war with the neighboring country Tira, and suddenly everything that Enna knows is changing. The boys she grew up with Razo, Finn and her brother Leifer, are all going off to fight with the army. She goes to help too, but goes with her friend the Princess Isi. Enna discovers how to produce fire and use it on things. Will she use it for good or for total destruction of herself and others around her?
I thought the book really dragged in the middle, especially after Enna was captured. So much so that I wasn't sure I wanted to continue it. Thankfully, after the war ended the story got much more intriguing and I was just hoping throughout the book that she would finally realize what a good guy she had in Finn.

River Secrets:
Like Enna Burning, the book was really slow in the middle, but really picked up in the end. I liked the ending, though I hoped she would've expanded on the romances a bit more. The story picks up where the last book left off, and Bayern and Tira have decided to trade ambassadors and their parties in an attempt at peace. Razo is picked to go with Talone, Enna, Finn and a group of soldiers from Bayern's Own, and nobody including him, knows why Talone has done this. When the first arrive there, there are tensions in the city because of the preceeding war and they are kept separate at the palace. Then the burned bodies begin showing up. Who is doing that to them and why? Could it be Enna, the mysterious Lady Dasha, Tomas the man who started a fight with Razo on the way to Ingraden (the Tiran capital), or someone else? It's up to Razo to find out.

Forest Born: (*Spoilers in second paragraph*)
Again, like the other books of the series this book dragged in the middle. However, it was an enjoyable book with several big plot twists that I was not expecting. Forest Born is the story of Rin, little sister of Razo who was the main character in the last book, River Secrets. She has tree-speaking and as she discovers as the book progresses, also has people speaking. A town in eastern Bayern is burned, the captain of the guards is killed and the king is injured. The queen, Isi, and her friends Enna and Dasha go to investigate and are joined by Rin who is watching the queen's son Tusken. Isi goes to investigate what is going on and infiltrates Kel, the neighboring country, taking "the fire sisters" and Rin with her. A group of fire-speakers are being led by the mysterious Queen of Kels, but who is she and what does she want with Isi and the other girls?

Ok I was genuinely horrified to see Selia come back into the storyline, as I thought she was dead after she named her own punishment in Goose Girl (the first Bayern book). And then when she was bluffing and said she had kidnapped Tusken and killed Razo, I was shocked again and sad because I had really grown to love Razo's character after the 2nd and 3rd books. I was as relieved as Isi when she found her son and Razo safe and sound. I thought it was interesting how Rin was so afraid of becoming evil like Selia due to her people speaking skills, even though they weren't as well-developed as Selia's. I did like how Rin used her abilities to make herself more calm through tree-speaking and then using people-speaking to give Isi the confidence she needed to defeat their enemies. I also found it most gratifying that she got to punch Selia in the face, as I myself wanted to do that while reading the book. I'm glad that Finn and Enna finally got married. I'm curious to see if the author extends the series further as I would like to see more adventures with the fire sisters, Rin, Razo and Finn.

John Pearson (Adult)
Edward the Rake: An Unwholesome Biography of Edward VII
I've been wanting to read this ever since I watched the BBC miniseries "The Duchess of Duke Street" about a famous female chef who was a mistress of Edward's and "Lillie" about Lillie Langtry, who was one of his most famous and longest-lasting mistresses. Because of these two series, I have been completely fascinated with the Edwardian period with its flamboyant lifestyle, sumptuously long 14+ course dinners and obsession with champagne, as well of the life of the monarch Edward VII. This book put into perspective his life and how he became the way he did. With the extremely strict moral upbringing pushed upon him by his mother Victoria and father Albert (who were apparently just reacting to the debauchery of their families), the way his mother never really allowed him any royal responsibilities because she didn't find him worthy (even though he was the heir to the throne),and the way he was never allowed friends, it is almost no wonder that he turned out like he did. It's only really impressive that his "rakishness" lasted over 40 years instead of losing interest in it after about 10 years or so. I would be curious to know if there was an actual number of women he seduced/slept with, which I think would be somewhere on par with the likes of Gene Simmons, of Kiss fame.

Jennifer Matesa (Adult)
Navel-Gazing: The Days and Nights of a Mother in the Making
A frank honest view of a woman's pregnancy and birth of her first child, as documented by the author's journaling and the pictures taken of her by the book's photographer through the stages of the author's pregnancy. I liked the author because I could relate, as she had an English husband and frequently had migraines. Plus she was smart and the book was easy to read and didn't glaze over the uncomfortable parts of pregnancy/childbirth that a lot of books leave out.

No comments:

Post a Comment