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Wednesday, February 20, 2013


By Cornelia Funke

Prince Charming never made it to Sleeping Beauty.  Her skeleton is still lying in her bed.  A strand of Rapunzel's hair is a rope that is any length the holder wants.  The tailor is a monster that kills humans and then makes his clothes out of their skin.  Things on the other side of the mirror are darker than they seem.  But Jacob Reckless doesn't worry about these most of the time -- occasionally they do become problematic.  Jacob doesn't consider his dad as being his father because he hasn't seen him in years.  Jacob escapes the normal world to the world on the other side of the mirror with increasing frequency until one time his brother, Will, follows him.  By the time Will followed him, Jacob was a well known treasure hunter which has made him many friends and enemies.  Just one moment of carelessness and Will's life may never be the same.  The Dark Fairy curses many people who oppose the Goyl.  The curse turns these humans into Goyl; their skin, heart, and memory into stone.  Will is slowly turning into stone.  Jacob, who has spent his life hiding from fear, finds himself facing the scariest thing he can imagine.   Jacob, his shapeshifting friend named Fox, and Will's girlfriend, Clara, are willing to do anything to save Will.  But, Kami'en, the Goyl King, wants Will as a Goyl because his skin isn't becoming Onyx or Jasper, it's becoming Jade.

Jacob was hard to get used because he didn't seem to feel anything but anger and self doubt for a while.  Once he started showing more emotion the book picked up and improved a lot.  The plot was very compelling and the characters were very interesting.  The twisted fairy tale's helping make the mirror world more interesting and dark.  This book was like a sour lemon tart that I thought was going to be my grandmother's recipe.  It was hard to take at the beginning and I didn't really want to finish.  It wasn't what I liked and didn't intend on liking but I decided to take a second bite and once I got into the book it was much much better. This book is a 3.7 because it was hard to get used to but ended up being captivating.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


by P. J. Hoover

Piper lives in a world of extreme heat.  It's a cool day if the temperature dips below 100˚, and it often goes over the danger level of 122˚.  Piper's mom is overprotective to the extreme, and she has one friend, Chloe.  She claims to love her mother, but I found this a little hard to believe because she always complains about her.  Then come two new boys, Shayne and Reese, and both of them are extremely good-looking, and both of them have an interest in Piper.
Then Piper's mom suddenly leaves because her father is nearby, and he is not allowed anywhere near her.  Within the first few chapters, Piper hardly does anything that her mom would like.  She breaks about every rule she can.  She gets a tattoo.  She goes on a date.  But really, she wouldn't do anything to hurt her mom because she cares about her.
On one of her excursions, Chloe is killed (except not really).  Shayne, who is nearby, tries to comfort her, and he does so by bringing her down to where he lives - the Underworld.  Shayne is really Hades, the ancient Greek god.  In this aspect, Piper is also a bit patchy.  She recognizes Charon because she has studied Greek mythology in school.  However, she does not know that there is an assembly of gods, and she does not know about Cerberus.  Her knowledge, like her character, is inconsistent.
Ares also shows up, and he has some powers that I have never heard of him having before.  There were other strange myths in the story, but I am not a mythology expert, so I have no idea how true they are, and the author is allowed some creative liberty, which she uses.  Past the first hundred or so pages, the story gets better.  The beginning was terrible because too many things just happened conveniently, and it made the book look like a bad romance.  The events were generally explained, though I didn't like some of the things, and I still don't know how everyone managed to find Piper at once.
The book is a 2.5.  I enjoy these types of books, but it has been done much better.  Rick Riordan, for instance, manages to incorporate more of the well-known myths, and it was amusing, whereas this book took a while to get going, and even then it was a bit wobbly.  Once you figure out what's going on, you end up way ahead of Piper, and a lot of the book is her catching up to you.  Also, I could not get my head around Hades being a hot teenager.  The image just did not work for me.  This book is chicken noodle soup, except the chicken isn't the best in the world.  You eat it, and every once in a while, you reach a chunk of chicken or carrot and wish it tasted a little better.  The soup is familiar, and you know what to expect.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Corner of White

By Jaclyn Moriarty

This book was one of the best books I have ever read.  The characters in A Corner of White are realistic and unique.  The writing is beautiful, funny, sad, and just overall unique and whimsical.  A Corner of White is a perfectly made raspberry cheesecake.  It is full delicious rich flavor that never gets old.  The cheesecake has a distinctive flavor that makes the it taste even better because it is good and different from everything else you've had recently.  A Corner of White was like a breath of fresh air that has a trace of flowers, bright orange leaves falling, and grass.  My summary won't do this book justice because the book is clearly a five.  One reason I loved this book so much was the use of color in the book.  In Cello there are monsters that are called purple, yellow, gray, and red as well as other colors.  Madeleine dresses in red, green, and blue.  Madeleine and Elliot talk about complimentary colors, primary colors, color waves, ultraviolet, infrared, and rainbows. (On top of the amazing contents of the book the cover is immaculate as well)

Elliot and Madeleine start out focused on one color but by talking to the other they learn to truly see the entire rainbow.  A Corner of White is beautifully written story about a girl in the world and a boy in the Kingdom of Cello.  Madeleine, of Cambridge, England, ran away with her mom from her dad.  By running away from her Dad she left behind the material comforts that her rich dad provided as well as her friends.  Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, Cello, and everybody knows him.  Elliot goes on frequent journeys to the Magical North looking for his father who he believes to have been abducted by a monster, called a purple.  Madeleine is homeschooled with two friends, Jack and Belle.  Madeleine discovers a note in a parking meter that is asking for help.  She writes a letter back that Elliot finds.  Throughout the book Elliot and Madeleine write letters to each other even though Madeleine doesn't believe that Elliot is a real person.  She believes that someone is writing the letters and putting them in the parking meter.  Although, Elliot has to be careful writing letters to Madeleine because communicating to people in the world is punishable by death.  Petra, Elliot's mom, rented out Elliot's dad's old store out to a nice family, the Twicklehams.  Naturally, Elliot resents them.  As Madeleine has troubles with her life in Cambridge she also struggles with knowing what she left behind.  Elliot starts to discover that his dad may not have been abducted by a purple but actually ran off with another woman, who is also missing (a lot of the book is actually this part but you'll have to read it to actually learn about it. A lot happens with Madeleine and Elliot in their worlds).  Through their letters Madeleine and Elliot learn about themselves as well as the other.  The book comes to a conclusion with a gripping twist for both Elliot and Madeleine. 

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

by Cat Winters

It's 1918, and death is everywhere.  Mary Shelley Black's best friend, Stephen, has gone off to fight in the war, and the Spanish influenza is rampant.  When her father is accused of being a traitor and is imprisoned, Mary is sent to live with her aunt, Eva.  Her aunt lives near Stephen's house, and Stephen's brother, Julius, takes spirit photographs, in which the spirits of the dead appear.  During a visit, Eva and Julius convince Mary to sit for a picture, and when she receives the photograph, the ghost of Stephen stands behind her.  Not long after that, Stephen's insane ghost starts to haunt her, and Mary is thrown into a tangled mystery as she attempts to determine exactly how Stephen died.
Supplemented with photographs, this book is brutally haunting.  Because school was closed, Mary is stuck with nothing to do but contemplate the horrors around her, which are emphasized by the gauze masks that everyone wears.  There was nothing that really bothered me until the end, although there were a few too many onions for my taste.  It ends with a hopeful tone, and everything is tied up except for one thing.  It just got dropped out halfway through the book.
I don't know much about this time period, so I can't comment on accuracy.
This book is a 3.7.  The writing was good, but not spectacular.  I have read books that pull me in and convince me the world is ending, which this book did not.  The cover is excellent; it is exactly what this book is like.  It was like tea without sugar.  Bitter and a bit difficult to drink.  This is not a sweet, easy-to-read book, but there is a comfort in having a good book to read.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Nightmare Affair

by Mindee Arnett

Dusty Everhart goes to Arkwell Academy, a school for magickind such as sirens, wizards, and demons.  Dusty is a Nightmare (and I don't know why Nightmare is the only one that's capitalized).  She sneaks into people's rooms every other week to feed off their dreams.  One night, she feeds off Eli Booker's dreams and everything changes.
They have a special connection that allows Dusty to see the future in his dreams, so Eli is brought to Arkwell Academy even though he is not magical.  I knew from the back of the book that Eli was a love interest, but it went a bit overboard.  Naturally, they could not fall in love immediately, so there had to be some tension.  Eli's is understandable; he is frustrated with being ripped out of his normal life, where he was popular, and thrust into this one, and he blamed it on Dusty.  Dusty's tension is less understandable.  She seems to object to the hotness of Eli.  She is simply mad at him for messing up her life, except he didn't really mess up her life, he just made it a little bit more bizarre, then Dusty way overreacted.
The most annoying thing about the book was that Eli got called hot so much.  Almost every time Eli came up, he was described as hot.  There are other adjectives for good-looking.  I didn't like the beginning of the book for this reason.  Dusty was uninspired, her relationship with the other characters were a bit flat and stereotypical, and the characters were shallow.
However, the book did pick up near the middle, and I'm glad I read the whole thing.  Things get more complicated, some of the characters develop a little, and the plot gets more interesting.  Things get to the point where Dusty can't simply go on the internet and find the answers she wants in two seconds.  There are interesting turns to the story, and I enjoyed the ending.
Overall, the book gets a 2.8.  Not quite a three.  It could have been better, and I wish it got interesting sooner.  It was like a snow cone.  The first few bites are good, which would be the back cover description, the cover, and the first chapter.  Then it gets to the icy bit where all the syrup is gone and it tastes like nothing more than ice.  At the end, however, there is all the syrup that slipped through the ice and pooled at the bottom of the cone.  Enjoyable, but not the best thing ever.

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