Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Throwback Review: Rotters

One more throwback review, originally posted in August 2011 this book has definitely left an impression in my memories. Enjoy:

Rotters is a YA contemporary novel with a twist of horror written by author Daniel Kraus.

Sixteen-year-old Joey loves his Mom. It's just been the two of them in Chicago since forever, and he doesn't mind. Joey's life is low-key. He gets straight A's, plays the trumpet, and hangs out with the one friend he's had since he was young.

But when Joey's mother dies in a sudden, tragic accident Joey is sent to live with his father in rural Iowa - a father that he has never met - but a father that Joey's Mom specifically willed him to go to should she die. Joey tries to honor her wishes, but when he arrives at his new home he finds a man that is short on words and leaves for long periods of time without warning.

Nothing is going well for Joey. There's no food at home, no guardian to rely on, and he finds himself being the brunt of cruelty by both students and teachers - each day is a struggle.

Yet once he gets his Dad to speak to him, Joey starts to put the strange pieces of the puzzle together - and before long Joey's life takes another turn - this one far more taboo. His father's secretive occupation? It's one that has been around for centuries, but never greeted with admiration.

Grave robbing.

Obviously, I don't want to give away too much of Rotters plot - but that final bit is necessary to let you know the basic premise of the book. It's kinda important that you're prepared!

Rotters starts off with a flat-out amazing prologue - it's stunning, gripping and instantly makes me aware of the author's talent - a talent that only gets spotlighted more as this vibrant, vivid, vicious novel continues! It features one of the most horrifying high school experiences ever and a world that is dank and dark and utterly fascinating.

I was absolutely riveted by it true originality, it's crisp, startling, phenomenal, enveloping prose, and it's touching, heartrending, one-of-a-kind coming of age story. Rotters features some ugly transformations, gruesome turn of events, and both positive and negative growth in Joey. Rotters is a standout - astounding, horrifying, and jarring.

In my opinion, Rotters is an epic - a journey bringing to the forefront an occupation that turns the stomach and magnifies madness and utter insanity - and it plotted and written brilliantly. I have never read a book like Rotters, it is an experience like no other!

Be ready to control your gag reflex. Be ready to gasp. Be ready to be amazed.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Throwback Review: Eyes Like Stars

Another throwback review this week! This one was posted originally in July 2009 and is still one of my favorites! Here ya go:

Eyes Like Stars in the first book by Lisa Mantchev in the Theatre Illuminata trilogy.

Bertie lives on a stage. Her friends are fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her crush is Nate, a pirate from The Little Mermaid. And her childhood friend and now frenemie is Ariel, a hunky spirit from The Tempest.

That’s right. On the stage Bertie lives on, all those characters from all those plays? They’re alive and bursting with drama. And not just the characters from Shakespeare. Every single play that has ever been written is represented in The Book. The Book that makes all of this possible. The Book that creates the magic.

But Bertie isn’t one of these characters; the theatre has taken her in, with a rather murky explanation as to why. It is her home. The only place she knows.

However, Bertie isn’t the most gracious of guests. She can’t seem to help making messes and getting into mischief. And when she is threatened with banishment – she has to find a way to make herself invaluable to the Theatre in order to stay. But while she works hard at doing just that, things start to fall apart. The very existence she is trying to maintain for herself is disappearing in front of her eyes.

Mixing drama with whimsical fantasy, humor with magical depth, Eyes Like Stars manages to be extremely hypnotic in it’s telling. Bertie is somehow very relatable, yet completely immersed in this world that is so unlike our own. She’s interesting and talented without being a goody-two-shoes. All of the incredible characters from all the plays are mesmerizing and stunningly entertaining.

And the plot weaves itself into more than it first seems. There are twists I can assure you, you won’t see coming! At least, I didn’t.

It’s not just a book for Shakespeare lovers, though I’m sure they’d enjoy the characters being lively and full of personality. I, myself, only have a read a couple of the plays and have only a basic idea of the others, and it was in no way an impediment to my delight in Eyes Like Stars.

Somehow, by the last page I found myself spellbound in this exceptionally unique, dreamlike YA novel and breathless for the next installment. The character depth and wit manages to grab a hold of your emotions in a way that you wouldn’t expect for such a quirky novel. But there seems to be more under the surface.

And ALL of it is excellent.

I think you all should find it when it comes out this month and decide for yourselves: Do you wish you had your own Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed (the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream)? My answer is an emphatic: yes.

I’d be shocked if you disagreed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Throwback Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Due to time restraints, instead of a new review I am doing a throwback! This review was originally posted back in April 2011 - and is definitely a great read! Here goes:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a YA post-apocalyptic, literary zombie novel by Carrie Ryan.

I know what you're thinking - "literary" zombie novel? Yep, never read anything like it!

Well, that's not exactly true. The whole reason I became obsessed with reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth (beyond the amazing title) is the short story Carrie Ryan wrote in Kiss Me Deadly, a compilation of a bunch of stunning stories written by some of today's best YA paranormal authors. It was called Hare Moon and it took place in the same world, the same village as The Forest of Hands and Teeth - and it was flat out spectacular. So I knew that I absolutely had to read The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

So, lets get to the synopsis, shall we?

Mary lives in a village surrounded by a fence. The fence keeps out the Unconsecrated that live in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, those who have Returned after being Infected - and whose hunger and moans never cease. The Guardians protect the fence, make sure it holds, make sure there won't be a breach. There hasn't been a breach in years. The Sisterhood knows best, and directs the village towards the survival of mankind.

The time is coming when Mary will be claimed and her life of commitment with a husband will begin. After all, in order to survive there must be children. And in a village plagued with miscarriages and barrenness, this is prized above almost anything else.

Yet Mary has never been like other villagers. Her mother has told her of the ocean, a place so many believe is nothing but a ridiculous dream - an impossibility. Mary longs to leave the village, to know of more. To see that they are not the last of mankind, as they've always been told. That there is hope. But secrets begin to reveal themselves to Mary, and what she has always known to be true is thrown into questioning and suspicion.

But then the unthinkable happens. The fence is breached. The Unconsecrated get in. And everything and everyone is in chaos. Mary is faced with unthinkable choices - between the brother she yearns for and the brother she's bound to, between the falling village and the uncertain place the fences old and worn path leads to.

And the Unconsecrated just keep coming.

Oh my. Okay, so my expectations were high from the short story. And my expectations were met - and exceeded. But my, oh my... What an unsettling book! The Forest of Hands and Teeth is horror through and through, written superbly and uniquely - causing a gripping, insanely intriguing, and darkly disturbing result.

I was on pins and needles practically the entire time - totally freaked out by its delicately terrifying, lyrically and deceptively simple prose, and the nonstop shocking turn of events that kept leaving me breathless. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is intense (to put it lightly) and heart-poundingly scary - its horror done almost too well!

Carrie Ryan managed to horrify and sicken me with a world that felt too real to be filled with flesh-eating zombies. She brought it to an entirely different level than any shtick with zombies could be. There was absolutely nothing cartoonish about Mary's story, a heroine flawed but lovely, naive but wise beyond her years, strong and perfect as a main character.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth never ceased to stun me, leaving me with an unforgettably nightmarish experience that was sprinkled with enough humanity, love, hope, and beauty to make it as effectual as it was.

I was heartbroken and exhausted by the end. And ready to see what was going to happen next in the sequel The Dead-Tossed Waves. And all the more wowed by the new implications of the short story Hare Moon, which I now realize to be an incredible prequel, and a must-read to any fan of The Forest of Hands and Teeth!

Have you read it, my fellow bibliophiles? Were you as floored as I was? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Psych: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Read

Psych: A Mind is a Terrible to Read is a contemporary mystery based on the USA television series and written by William Rabkin.

Brilliantly showing up a detective in court by causing someone other than the defendant to confess to a murder, therefore throwing out the whole case, is not the best way to get in someone’s good graces.

Though Shawn, man-child of excellent deduction skills who has convinced most of Santa Barbara that he is actually psychic, may be convinced that the end justifies the means in this case, the detective in question is not so sure.

In fact, he’s so irritated that he gets Gus, Shawn’s best friend since childhood, and Shawn’s car impounded over something as silly as eighty-seven parking tickets. Petty man!

But when the duo go to pick up the car, they find they’ve stumbled across a criminal conspiracy and nearly get run over by a Mercedes. Not that surprising, really.

Once Gus wakes up in the hospital, not only does he find himself in the midst of another crazy case with his so-called psychic best friend, but they have somehow picked up a tagalong. Her name is Tara Larison and she’s beautiful, helpful and kind.

And completely insane. She’s positive that she is Shawn’s psychic slave and will do anything for him. Which doesn’t seem TOTALLY bad until Shawn’s enemies start showing up dead – and they are no longer sure if it’s the result of criminal conspiracy or Shawn’s new, gorgeous minion making her devotion known….

I love Psych. One of my favorite TV shows. It’s wacky, witty, full of pop culture and 80s references and hilarious - while also solving crimes.

This is my first foray into the novelization of the TV show and I was quite pleased. Is it AS awesome as the show? I don’t think I’d go quite that far – but it was quite good!

Primarily written from Gus’s perspective, though in third person, A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Read is funny and has that same wackadoodle feeling to it as the show. We get appearances by all the beloved characters and a pretty solid mystery. I even managed to be surprised!

It only reminded me how much I love the show, and I have to say that it was definitely good enough to read the next novelization – as I know there are a good few written. More time with Shawn and Gus is never anything but a good thing in my book!

Now, go find a pineapple!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Feeling Sorry for Celia

Feeling Sorry for Celia is a YA contemporary novel by Jaclyn Moriarty.

Elizabeth’s best friend Celia has gone missing… again. She has a habit of taking off due to her “free spirit.” Which is really quite inconvenient.

Elizabeth’s father has announced that he will be staying in Australia for the next year, rather than Canada – meaning lots of father/daughter time. Again, quite inconvenient.

In the meantime, Elizabeth’s mother is so busy that they tend to correspond with each other entirely through notes on the fridge.

So though Elizabeth initially finds her English teacher’s homework to start writing actual, real letters (to rekindle the “Joy of the Envelope”) to a stranger at another school quite ridiculous, soon she finds herself telling this stranger more about herself than most know.

Entirely written in the form of letters – either to/from her pen pal at the other school or from silly invented societies like “The Association of Teenagers,” Feeling Sorry for Celia is a unique, excellent read.

As always, Jaclyn Moriarty astounds me in her ability to make a book that is one moment hilarious and preposterous and then suddenly, unexpectedly, make it grounded, relevant and heartbreaking. This is why she is one of my favorite authors.

I’m only now getting a chance to go back and read her earlier works, such as this one. And already her skill is on full display. It was truly a pleasant, entertaining, poignant novel about friendship, family and crushes in the life of this clever and relatable Australian teenager.

Especially in its handling of the unstable Celia, Feeling Sorry for Celia manages to reflect a picture of what too much abandon given to a young person can bring, while not pulling the book into a depressing, unhappy mess. Somehow it remains hopeful and lovely – just the way I like it!

You can bet your bottom dollar I will be reading more from Jaclyn Moriarty!