Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review: For Darkness Shows the Stars

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars #1)
By Diana Peterfreund
****
“In every letter, in every line, she saw him. He hadn't changed - he'd only grown into the man he'd meant to be.” 
― Diana PeterfreundFor Darkness Shows the Stars
For Darkness Shows the Stars is a futuristic dystopian/post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion. It kind of blows me away that I just typed that sentence. (In a good way!)

Here's the deal: some time ago (in the future - her past, our future) humanity got a little out of control with the DNA engineering and splicing and whatnot sciencey stuff, and while trying to make a better human, ended up making a "reduced" human. Pretty much any baby born at this point was severely mentally handicapped. According to the lore, the folks realized that the world was going down the crapper, so they decided to just destroy everything. Enter the Luddites, who were anti-technology/anti-screwing-around-with-natural-stuff. Because they were au naturale, they weren't affected by the genetic engineering gone wrong, and survived the destruction by hiding away until it was over.

Fast forward to present day. The Luddites are in charge of things, including the care and maintenance of both the Reduced and the land. It's been a while since they came out of their hidey-holes and things are running again, though according to the Luddite traditions, which are basically don't screw around with nature and don't do anything that hasn't been done before. Another change is that the Reduced have started having babies that weren't mentally challenged. These folks are called Posts, or Post-Reduced. They're not so happy with the status quo, because they're mostly treated like property.

Enter Elliot North and Kai (aka Captain Malakai Wentforth). This is a YA novel, so the Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth love affair timeline has been moved up. Elliot was born a Luddite, the daughter of the Baron, and the only member of the family working to keep the farm and its workers thriving. Kai was born a Post to another Post on the North estate, and grew up as an apprentice to his mechanic father. Kai and Elliot grew up together and were best friends. They also fell in love when they were only 14 years old. Things got bad after Elliot's mother died and there was no one to curb Baron North's bad and negligent habits. Kai cut and run; Elliot was supposed to go with him, but she realized she couldn't leave the people under her care alone under the thumb of her father.

Four years later, Kai returns with money and some other Posts to stay at Elliot's grandfather's estate to build a ship that will allow them to explore what's left of the world beyond their island (which I believe is supposed to be New Zealand, or at least New Zealand-esque, I'm not entirely sure). Romantic tension ensues.

The twists from the original story are really interesting. Peterfreund created an interesting world, one that balanced a futuristic dystopian society, but also blended with events in Persuasion in a way that made them plausible in this setting. She captured the romantic angst that so engaged me in Persuasion, but in a way that seemed (mostly) realistic to two 18-year-olds. The moral questions of genetic testing and experimentation in people, animals, and food sources should have felt heavy handed for all the attention it received, but it felt mostly part of the crisis in the plot rather than moralizing.

I loved Persuasion. It's hands-down my favorite Austen novel, and this book really made me want to pick it back up for another read. Anne and Frederick's love story...just...unngg! I love it! I felt a lot of that same gut-clenching emotion over Elliot and Kai's love story. I'm normally not a big fan of post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories, but this story takes place when the world is rebuilding itself and change is underway, and without the hero and heroine being the major catalyst for that change, though they were a part of it. I liked that a lot. Things I didn't like included Baron North, though not the way Peterfreund wrote him, but the way a reader dislikes the villain. Seriously, Baron North takes on Professor Delores Umbridge style loathing.

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel. While there is a sequel, I think Peterfreund has been rather ingenious with the way she's going about the series: For Darkness is a stand-alone novel. The sequel has new characters who live in the same world, and this one based on The Scarlet Pimpernel. I kinda love that. I'm also loving that she's retelling classics that haven't been retold a gazillion times. And while this novel doesn't get the same level of love that I reserve for Persuasion, it still gets rather a lot from me. Highly recommended.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Audio Book Review: Dangerous Women

Dangerous Women
Short Story Collection edited by George R. R. Martin
Read by various narrators
****
“A woman could be strong without having the emotions of a brick.” 
― Brandon SandersonDangerous Women

From Goodreads:
All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors’ bestselling continuities—including a new “Outlander” story by Diana Gabaldon, a  tale of Harry Dresden’s world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones.

From Me:
Fantastic collection of short stories with kick ass women taking the lead. I listened to the audio book and the narrators were amazing, particularly Claudia Black (who should read All The Things). So many great authors and great stories packed into a beast of a book! Most of the short stories aren't stand-alones, so if you're a reader of any of the original series, these additions will be very exciting; if you are not, most of the stories will work well without knowing the world behind them; that being said, if you DO read the original series, but you're NOT caught up, you may run across the occasional spoiler. Highly recommended.

More from Goodreads: 
Stories and Narrators (in order of appearance):“Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie; Read by Stana Katic
“My Heart Is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott; Read by Jake Weber
“Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland; Read by Harriet Walter
“The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass; Read by Jonathan Frakes
“Bombshells” by Jim Butcher; Read by Emily Rankin
“Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn; Read by Inna Korobkina            
“Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale; Read by Scott Brick
“Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm; Read by Lee Meriwether
“I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block; Read by Jake Weber
“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson; Read by Claudia Black
“A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman; Read by Harriet Walter
“The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman; Read by Sophie Turner
“Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress; Read by Janis Ian
“City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland; Read by Scott Brick
“Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon; Read by Allan Scott-Douglas
“Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling; Read by Stana Katic
“Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes; Read by Claudia Black
“Caregivers” by Pat Cadigan; Read by Janis Ian
“Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector; Read by Maggi-Meg Reed
“Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon; Read by Jenna Lamia
“The Princess and the Queen” by George R. R. Martin; Read by Iain Glen

The introduction by Gardner Dozois is read by Fred Sanders and the interstitial author biographies are read by Karen Dotrice.

Book Review: Discount Armageddon

Discount Armageddon (InCryptid #1) 
By Seanan McGuire
*****
“A proper lady should be able to smile pretty, wear sequins like she means it, and kick a man's ass nine ways from Sunday while wearing stiletto heels. If she can't do that much, she's not trying hard enough.” 
― Seanan McGuireDiscount Armageddon
This book was so FUN! Verity, our unconventional but completely awesome hero, is a ballroom dancing, free running, strip club waitress/cryptozoologist who is trying to save the local NYC cryptids from the visiting Covenant man and pursue her ballroom dancing career. Verity is sassy, a complete BAMF, and has talking mice as roommates (and I seriously LURVE the talking mice).

Full of quick comebacks, quirky characters, and lots of action, I got incredibly annoyed any time I had to put the book down for inconsequential things like work and sleep.

Bonus content:

1) Dancing! Verity is pursuing the "family business," "but all she want's to do is dance dance dance." She's a professional ballroom dancer trying to make it in NYC after a stint on Dance or Die, a reality competition along the lines of So You Think You Can Dance (Which is a major obsession of mine. I can't dance, but I certainly wish I could.). She uses her powers of dance against the forces of *things that want to eat you.*

2) A romantic interest that doesn't pull focus from the story. There's chemistry and making out, but more importantly there's character development and fight scenes.

3) Did I mention the talking mice? They've very religious and say "hail!" a lot. I kinda want a colony of Aeslin mice in my closet, but I'm sure my dog would disagree.

In conclusion: Love Love Love, Gush Gush Gush, Read it! Read it! Read it!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Blind Date with a Book - Updated from the Savvy Reader Blog

Originally posted 1/28/13 to The Savvy Reader (my former MPL Teen Blog); Updates include titles and authors to previously posted mystery book list and "dating profiles":

For Valentine's Day, we're celebrating with a very special display: Blind Date with a Book. Putting this display together was significantly more ambitious than what I did last year, which was a little sign and zombie books (they'll eat your heart out).


So here's how it works: I selected just shy of 50 books from various genres (all of them awesome). For each title, I wrote a dating profile, complete with a headline and a 2-3 sentence blurb. Each of the books were wrapped by my wonderful League of Extraordinary Teens: Teen Council members. The profiles were printed and added to the front of each wrapped book.

Blind Date with a Book: Take a chance and you may just find your perfect book.

(For my fellow librarians, we are fortunate to have a scanning system that doesn't require a bar code reader, but I also added a number to the dating profile that referenced the wrapped title in a spreadsheet. This way, if there was a request for a specific book, we could find it.)

I pulled so many books that I thought would be awesome for this little project that I needed an overflow space. A BIG overflow space.


I'm also trying to promote the love with my programming board. Hmm...looks like my handwriting began to tilt a bit - sorry Sarah!


So, what books did I use? Sorry - not gonna tell. At least not in this blog entry. However, I'll share the dating profiles, and if you find one of interest leave me a comment on the blog and I'll let you know the title. (Fellow YA librarians - if you'd like the full list of profiles and titles, email me at rachelm@mooresville.lib.in.us [The list is now posted below!]. You are welcome to use the profiles, but if you blog about it, please reference me and link back to this blog post!!!)

Blind Date with a Book Book List

1. If the house is rocking…run far, far away.  I'm normal on the outside, but I'm dark and creepy (in a good way) on the inside. I'm looking for someone who likes a good scare. Do you think you can handle me?

2. Everything I learned, I learned from the movies. I'm an amateur film maker who hopes to make a difference in the lives of others. I'm looking for someone who will support my efforts and isn't afraid of a good cry. Will you buy my ticket?

3. Dig that funky wavelength. I live in the past, but the technological future has reached me sooner than it should have. What would you do if you heard your voice from the future? Would you friend me?

4. I thought I knew what the future held…  I hear voices, but I swear I'm not crazy. They tell me to do things (still not crazy). I'm looking for someone to help me sort things out. Will you help me solve this puzzle?

5. Love is a (magic) battlefield. I'm fighting a war and discovering my hidden potential. The world is a dangerous place and I'm looking for someone to watch my back. Will you stand beside me?

6. Eat your heart out. Life is waging war everyday just to survive, but it's a lot easier with someone by your side. I'm looking for a trace of humanity in this world - do you have the heart to stick with me?

7. They say lightening never strikes twice… but does it need to? My life is full of excitement and danger, but I'm still looking for that certain spark, that electricity. Do you think we'll sizzle?

8. Looking for the cat's pajamas, not a flat tire. I'm a dame who's new to the big city and I'm looking for a live wire to show me the ropes, and maybe solve a caper or two. Are you the Real McCoy?

9. More than a pretty face. I used to think that looks were the most important thing, until a plane crash changed my pageant plans. Now I'm a warrior who can wrestle snakes and survive in the wild. Will you take me au naturel?

10. Text Me Maybe? I should warn you, me and my iPhone are one. I use it for everything from checking my email to fighting crime and righting wrongs. There's nothing we can't do. Do you think we'll sync?

11. Forget Romeo, I think I'm looking for my Juliet. I'm a drama club girl trying to figure things out. My life is like a screenplay, and we're all just characters upon the page. Will you read me?

12. Looking for a fantasy. They say you can't change the past, but I don't believe it. It defines who we are, but so do the secrets that surround us. Do you think we have a future together?

13. You've stolen my heart. I used to lead a life of crime, but I got out of the game. But you dragged me back in when you stole my heart. Will you be my partner in crime?

14. They say love is the greatest experiment. I grew up hearing the stories of secrets and experiments, but never believed they were true. Until now. Will our love be Top Secret or an Open Book?

15. Life is a mystery, and I plan to solve it. Around each corner is a new question to be answered and a new puzzle to be solved. Sometimes it can get messy or even dangerous. Are you my missing piece?

16. Looking for love against the odds. Everyone around me is sick - but I want to be sick with love. Is it survival of the fittest or does love make the heart stronger? Are you the cure to what ails me?

17. You've hacked my heart. It's you and me against the man and we've got to destroy the system. You've hacked your way into my heart, now will you conquer the world (or at least the city) with me?

18. Looking for a real live wire. I've got an electric personality and I'm looking for someone who can really light up a room. Do you think we've got a spark?

19. I'm on the hunt for my perfect partner. These are dangerous times and anymore it seems like I'm the prey surrounded by predators. Will you stand with me against the enemy?

20. It'd be a crime to pass me by. My life may seem stranger than fiction, but I promise it's based on a true story. It may seem like too difficult of a puzzle, but will you help me unravel the truth?

21. You've sent me outta this world! You've made me feel like I've won the lottery. But will our love shine as bright as the sun or will we find danger on the dark side of the moon?

22. Can't we all just get along? We're supposed to be enemies, but we could save the world if we could just be friends. Will you take the leap with me?

23. It's like déjà vu all over again. I'm an American Girl in London, looking for an adventure. But the new attacks RIPPED from old headlines have left me reeling. Can you help me figure out what's going on?

24. It's the age of the geek, baby. I've turned my gaming into a career of sorts, if you can call trying to win WWIII a career. I'm a super-human war machine…of love. Do you think you have what it takes?

25. Super Villains are people, too. Just because I was kidnapped and trained by super villains doesn't mean I don't have feelings. Maybe we've just been looking for love in all the wrong places. Would you be my hero?

26. Warrior looking for revenge against the shogun and maybe love, if there's time. Significant other must be willing join me in battle and occasionally clean up after the griffin. What's your weapon of choice?

27. Have we met? No, seriously, I can't remember - I've lost my memory. Please excuse that weird energy blast; I don't know how I did that…it's weird, right? Anyway, I'm on the run; would you like to come along?

28. Vampire Ninja seeks love. Don't be surprised if you can't see me; it'd be hard enough if I was just an ordinary ninja. But I'm hardly ordinary. Life with me can be both dangerous and a bit scary - do you think you can handle it?

29. Baby on board. Being a pregnant teen is hard enough, but try dealing with that AND aliens trying to kidnap your baby! I have a lot of hard decisions to make and would like to find someone supportive, responsible, and willing to fight aliens to stand by my side. Are you that special someone?

30. A picture's worth a thousand words. I think someone's messing with my head. Strange photos keep me up at night. What does it mean? Will you help me make sense of it all?

31. Can't watch Dexter? Then check me out. Being raised in the family business has left it's mark on me, but it turns out that I have a rare insight into the investigation of a new serial killer. Can we solve the crime together?

32. There's no place like home. I'm looking to reclaim the land and break the curse, but I can't do it alone. Will you come with me on this quest?

33. Sometimes a fight to the death is the only chance at living. This world is not kind to those without power, but I'll fight for my chance at a better life. Will you fight with me?

34. What's a girl to do when the pickings are slim? All I want is a little romance and a little fun, but I'm having a hard time finding it. Can friendship become romance?

35. Be careful what you wish for… because you might just get it. I've learned this lesson the hard way. If you could change something with the flip of a coin, would you do it?

36. I'm an old story in a new world. The future looks bleak, but we're trying to make it better. But can a lost love be returned? Is there any hope for us?

37. It's all fun and games…until… I'm a gamer, or at least I was. But the game is starting to affect my real life and it knows things about me that it couldn't know. Will you help me solve the mystery?

38. World traveler seeks friend for an adventure. A valuable piece of art has been stolen, and it's up to me to find it. My travels will take me far and wide…would you care to join me?

39. Trying to figure myself out. I'm not really sure who I am anymore. These feelings I have are confusing and unexpected. Do I like him? Do I like her? Will you help me figure it out?

40. One crazy night. One Crazy Girl. Prom night wasn't supposed to end in blood. If you're going to join me, you'd better be prepared for anything, including violence and mayhem. So, are you game?

41. I can see another world in your eyes. Unfortunately, it's a dark and dangerous world. I'm starting to wonder if I'm losing my mind. Can you help me see things clearly?

42. What are the chances of love at first sight? What are the chances you'll fall in love within 24 hours? What are the chances you can find someone again once you've lost them? Will you help me do the math?

43. Trapped with no escape. Chaos reigns and violence is our new way of life. Death surrounds us and there's no one left to help. Mine is not an easy story, and not one for the faint of heart. Will you take a shot with me?

44. Kon'nichiwa. I have many stories to tell. Stories of real life, stories in print and picture, stories of a different culture. Will you read me?

45. This is 19th century London as you've never seen it before. It's unnatural, the things happening these days. Families are being taken, and only an unlikely pair can hope to help them. Are you intrigued?

46. Sticks and stones… Words really can hurt. Reputations can change by the casual words of a stranger. So what do you have to say?

47. It's in the most difficult of circumstances that we find out what we're truly capable of. In the wastelands of this world, I fight to end the corruption that's infested this society. When the time comes, what will you find out about yourself?

48. Trying to live up to my potential… ...but freshman year keeps getting in the way. I'm looking for someone with a good sense of humor (cuz I have one, and you should think I'm funny) and who can see me for what I am: Awesome. Are we meant to be?

49. Looking for an adventure. Whether you're on the hunt for the Lost City of Atlantis or just the keys to my heart, we're on our way to an excellent adventure. Will you dive in with me?

UPDATE! I've had sooo many requests for the full book list, it's completely blown me away! I'm even getting requests THIS year! So here are the book titles and authors with the corresponding number from above. There are no current books on this list, but I hope it inspires your own displays!


#TitleAuthor
1Bad Girls Don’t DieAlender, Katie
2Me and Earl and the Dying GirlAndrews, Jesse
3The Future of UsAsher, Jay
4TouchedBalog, Cyn
5Shadow and BoneBardugo, Leigh
6AshesBick, Ilsa
7StruckBosworth, Jennifer
8The DivinersBray, Libba
9Beauty QueensBray, Libba
10iBOYBrooks, Kevin
11Between You & MeCalin, Marisa
12PathfinderCard, Orson Scott
13Heist SocietyCarter, Ally
14So Close to YouCarter, Rachel
15ShelterCoben, Harlan
16The Way We FallCrewe, Megan
17Little BrotherDoctorow, Cory
18The Prisoner of Cell 25: Michael VeyEvans, Richard Paul
19The HuntFukuda, Andrew
20Mister Death's Blue Eyed GirlsHahn, Mary Downing
21172 Hours on the MoonHarstad, Johan
22Skyship Academy: The Pearl WarsJames, Nick
23The Name of the StarJohnson, Maureen
24InsigniaKincaid, S.J.
25The VindicoKing, Wesley
26StormdancerKristoff, Jay
27False MemoryKrokos, Dan
28Blood NinjaLake, Nick
29MothershipLeicht, Martin
30Every You, Every MeLevithan, David
31I Hunt KillersLyga, Barry
32Finnikin on the RockMarchetta, Melina
33Carnival of SoulsMarr, Melissa
34The Boy RecessionMeaney, Flynn
35Fair CoinMyer, E.C.
36The Darkness Shows the StarsPeterfreund, Diana
37ErebosPoznanski, Ursula
38Tokyo HeistRenn, Diana
39Boyfriends With GirlfriendsSanchez, Alex
40Au Revoir, Crazy European ChickSchreiber, Joh
41The Marbury LensSmith, Andrew
42Statistical Probability of Love at First SightSmith, Jennifer
43Quaranteen: The LonersThomas, Lex
44TOMO: An Anthology of Japan Teen StoriesThompson, Holly ed.
45The UnnaturalsitsTrent, Tiffany
46The ListVivian, Siobhan
47Blood Red RoadYoung, Moira
48Freshman Year & Other Unnatural DisastersZeitlin, Meredith
49Lost CodeEmerson, Kevin

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Audio Book Review: Unbreakable

Unbreakable (The Legion #1) 
By Kami Garcia
Story: ***
Narration: **

“You guys showed up in my bedroom out of nowhere, shot my cat with a gun that looked like something from a video game, and told me that a demon’s trying to kill me. Want to explain how you could possibly know that?” 
Jared looked over at me. “Because our family has been fighting his army for over two hundred years.” --Kami Garcia, Unbreakable 
 
Oh the melodrama! How the mere sight of a bit of skin or the breath of a touch can send young Kennedy's heart into palpitations! She's in the middle of a fight against a demon, but she's consumed with thoughts of boys (Twins! One dark and broody, one kind and sensitive!). She's being dragged along with a group of teens who make her feel welcome and part of the family, and yet she feels like she doesn't belong! Our hero and our heroine shoulder the blame for everything, even things they had no control over! It really didn't help that I was listening to the audio version of the book and holy-angst-Batman! it was read with that breathy woe-is-me voice throughout and I just couldn't take it.

Pros: Cool sort of treasure hunt to find the pieces of a mysterious artifact that's supposed to help them in the fight against evil. Puzzles to solve and a quest!

Awesome 15-year-old inventor kid nicknamed Priest.

Ghost busting.

Cons: See first paragraph ;)

Too much angst and melodrama.

Love triangle, particularly one where the participants have known each other less than a week.

This book had a lot of potential. I think if there had been more focus on the quest and ghost busting and less on the luurrve triangle, and that the icky-love-stuff had time to believably develop, this book would have been much better.

Bonus(?) factor: Wincesters! I love me some Supernatural, and Unbreakable seems influenced by that world. Jared resembles the Dean character and Lucas resembles Sam, more so in the beginning at least. Luckily for the characters in this book, they don't have to salt and burn the bodies to get rid of the ghosts! Unfortunately for them, Sam and Dean never fought over the same woman, and these poor saps do.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Audio Book Review: The Diviners

The Diviners (The Diviners #1)

By Libba Bray
Story: **
Narration: ****
“I thought research would be more glamorous, somehow. I'd give the librarian a secret code word and he'd give me the one book I needed and whisper the necessary page numbers. Like a speakeasy. With books.” 
― Libba BrayThe Diviners

I wanted to like this book, I really did, but it just didn't spark for me. First thing you should know is that this book is a BEAST. It's huge! And honestly, not in a good way. It's clear that Libba Bray did a ton of research and had a lot of interesting characters and plot ideas, but it was overkill; there was just too much going on in the story to keep track of everything and everyone. I was listening to the audio book (the reader was very talented, particularly with finding different voices for each of the characters, as well as the occasional singing), and we hit the major climactic scene at the end of the 14th track, so I figured the 15th track would be pretty short for the wrap up, but NO, it was another HOUR. It also had Return of the King style multiple-ending fake-outs. You think the story's done, then WHAM!, another character gets a wrap-up. On the one hand this helped a bit with some of the story lines that were left hanging, on the other hand, just end already!

The villain and atmosphere were certainly eerie, but since I was reading this for a book group and had to rush through the audio, I turned up the speed of the audio-reading. Turns out, some of the creep factor is lost when you're listening to it at super speed. I won't say the reader started to sound like a chipmunk, but it was close.

Then there's Evie, our heroine. I'd like to categorize her as "too stupid to live." I get that she had to do certain things to move the plot along, and likewise escaped certain situations for the same reason, but COME ON. If you're in the midst of supernatural phenomena, and there's a haunted house, noise in the basement, or a sinister character doing something shady, DON'T INVESTIGATE! Particularly if you don't have mad-demon-hunting skills, a la the Winchesters, and instead just whine and pout a lot.

I know a lot of people really like this book, but it just wasn't for me. And I guess that really surprises me, because everything about this book, from the time period to the paranormal elements, are generally right up my alley. I won't come out and say you shouldn't try it, but know that if you DON'T like it, you're not alone.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Doodle

Some people are born with the artistic gene. Many people in my family have this gene and have created truly beautiful works in a variety of mediums, everything from porcelain dolls to oil on canvas.

I did not get this gene.

I'm slightly bitter.

What I CAN do, however, is draw fairly decent stick figures. It's not much, but it's all I've got.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Book Review: How to Lead a Life of Crime

How to Lead a Life of Crime

by Kirsten Miller
****
“What would it be like to exist in a world without suffering? To have no needs, only desires? To be surrounded by so much beauty that you forget how ugly life is for everyone else? Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t be willing to fight for it? What the alumni did to get there – lie, cheat, steal, kill – I’m sure they’d all say it was worth it. And I bet they sleep soundly because they know that their nameless, faceless victims would have done the same thing.” 
― Kirsten MillerHow to Lead a Life of Crime

From Goodreads:
A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer.

Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?


From Me: 
This book wasn't what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be something with a lot of fun and snark. Um, yeah, not so much. 

There *was* some snark, but graced with a healthy dose of bitterness and anger. Flick is a kid living on the streets after escaping a lousy home life (that's putting it mildly). He's offered a chance to attend a prestigious school in NYC and get revenge on his father and he decides to take it. But this school for criminals is cutthroat (literally) and generally horrible.

While the story was significantly harsher and edgier than I was anticipating (that's what happens you make assumptions), it was ultimately very satisfying. This book is not for the faint of heart and does have mature themes and elements, so take that under advisement, but I highly recommend it.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review: The Heist

The Heist (O'Hare and Fox #1)

By Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
****
“[The pirates] were about ten yards away, coming up the starboard side, when the men suddenly dove off their boat. Nick looked over his shoulder and saw Kate standing behind him with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher resting on her shoulder. It may have been the sexiest thing he'd ever seen.”

This was a quick, fun read. Kinda like White Collar, but with a potential for romance instead of bromance. Kate O'Hare is a former Navy Seal and currently works for the FBI. She's been hunting conman Nick Fox for years and finally nabs him. Ever the conman, Nick manages to avoid jail by working with the FBI to catch other criminals, and Kate becomes his partner/handler. Heists and hijinks ensue.

I really enjoyed reading about a heroine who doesn't need to be "saved" and is actually competent (and eats! I love a heroine who isn't afraid of eating something made with real butter, a la Agnes Crandall and Lorelai Gilmore). Even though Kate was the Fed and Nick the conman, a lot of books would have had Nick rescuing Kate at some point because she was incapable of action (scared, weak, stupid, whatever, which happens so often) and that never happened (yay!). Instead, they each had their own skill sets and used them together well, acting as a team, despite Kate's concern about partnering with the criminal she chased for years. I appreciate that.

My favorite character, though, is Kate's retired military father, who gets to leave afternoon naps behind to help Kate out in various covert operations. I've chosen to picture him as Bruce Willis in RED. Love!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Audio Book Review: Silver

Silver
Author: Andrew Motion

Narrated By: David Tennant
Story: **
Narration: ********************

Silver is the unofficial sequel to Treasure Island and follows the offspring of Jim Hawkins (his son, Jim Hawkins...Jr., I guess) and Long John Silver (his daughter, Natty). They both set off to Treasure Island decades after that infamous first voyage to retrieve the part of the treasure that was left behind.

I have to confess, I didn't actually finish this book, but I have a few things to say about it. First, it wasn't a bad read - the author is very talented, almost lyrical, in his narrative. He's incredibly descriptive, making young Jim Hawkins' world easy to imagine.

That being said, the story wasn't exactly a page turner. It's possible that I stopped at exactly the wrong time, right when they arrive at the island, but the book was due back at the library, soo... That, and I wasn't able to get caught up in the story. I was listening to the audio book, and I honestly wouldn't have gotten past the first disc if it wasn't for the fact that it was read by David Tennant.


The Doctor was reading this book. My Doctor. The ULTIMATE Doctor.

And it was beautiful.

Seriously, you know how people say they'd listen to someone read the phone book? This was miles better than hearing the phone book. DT is hands down the best narrator I've ever listened to. And his voices! Most of the story was narration, but when he got to dialog, I'm telling you: it was MAGIC.

If you read and loved Treasure Island, I would recommend this "sequel." But look for the audio edition, because that's where the magic really is! It's like buttah.