Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: Shiver

Maggie Stiefvater
Read September 2011

My best friend told me about Shiver some time ago. She said that Maggie, Shiver's author, wrote in a way that was lyrical. That she wrote in a way that made each work much like a song. I believed her, but I did not fully appreciate that statement till I read it for myself.

Maggie Stiefvater had become one of my favorite people through reading her thoughts and words in her blog. After I was shown a few posts by said friend, I was hooked. I read her blog all the way through, starting with the beginning. Each post fed my curiosity over the Mercy Falls Trilogy. Finally, I snagged a copy of Shiver and it was most certainly worth the long wait and lengthy anticipation.

Becca was right. Shiver is a song. I felt that the entire time I read it. I soaked the novel in—it only taking me a day to read it. I don't really have any complaints against it other than felt a slight compression in the work. While I realize it is a young adult novel, I do think it would have flourished to a whole new and amazing level if it was given more room.

Stiefvater sings a mosaic of of characters, paints a vivid world, and speaks beauty into our souls through this work.


“As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air.” -Maggie Stiefvater

“And leaving you (there aren't words to untangle it)
Your life, fearful and immense and blossoming,
so that, sometimes frustrated, and sometimes understanding,
Your life is sometimes a stone in you, and then, a star.” -Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie being awesome:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
August 2011

Catching Fire is the second book in Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games Trilogy. A dystopia set very far in 'our' future. Collins pulls us back into the world of the Hunger Games and it is extremely worth it. I think she pulls off a feat of creating a sequel that is better than the prequel. Don't you love it when you read or watch a sequel and expect to be sorely let down yet you get a great surprise? I do.

As we are brought back into the feel of the first book, I do believe I enjoyed this one much better. The characters were sound in their personalities and development after the events of the first book. Her writing was as vibrant as ever, and I liked the whole new feel we got by adding past victors! In fact, that was and will remain one of my favorite aspects of the novel. I have this weakness for when the best of the best get together and duke it out. I also liked seeing the darker psychological side of politics and the Capital from a first-hand perspective as well. Also, I really enjoyed the new characters, especially Finnick.

There is one scene that had me so captivated and moved that I was in tears. Peeta is holding a dying morphling and telling her all of the colors he had created, and as he talks to this dying girl, the beauty of each color comes alive to us as she responds to each and everyone one of the descriptions with a child-like captivation. Peeta spends the last few moments of her life telling her about how he's working on creating a rainbow. The utter innocence that is displayed here is so raw as we see two hearts displayed over something so simple as one soul passes into the next.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the mockingjay. The one that survived despite the Capitol's plans. The symbol of the rebellion." --Suzanne Collins

"At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead.The hard thing is finding the courage to do it." --Suzanne Collins

I'd recommend this to anyone who wants a quick read, or who likes psychological novels.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: Vigilante

Robin Parrish
July 2011

Want a novel where you are clinging to the edge of your chair in the middle of the night—eyes wide and the clock reading two a.m? Do you want your reading experiences to be exciting again, where the scenes are so enthralling and fast paced that you just want to plug in and feel like you're part of the action? Want something that leaves you breathless? Read a Parrish novel; they do that to you.

Vigilante is no exception to that tradition.

Our story gives us a decorated war hero who returns and after unspeakable evils, decides to take on a broken society in a novel about hope. A novel about the corruption and ensnarement of men. What would you do if you decided to go up against the morality of humankind while the entire world watches?

Parrish delivers us a novel about death and life, hope and hate, peace and fear. We feel pain and embrace joy as we clutch our hearts till the very end. Powerful writing drives the novel, along with vivid scenes and a climax that is in every way worth the lost sleep.

Grab on, hold tight, and step into Vigilante.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Leviathan

Scott Westerfield
Read August 2011

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

This book charmed me. Generally I don't like historical novels, and I had never read an alternate history novel, so I was weary. However, a good friend recommended this series, so I took her word for it.

Talk about a witty adventure!

I don't think I've ever read something so vivid in my life, especially for a YA novel. Right now it seems that recently I've been on a great-novel, very-vivid reading spree—which, of course, has been awesome. Who can say no to discovering so many great books so close together?

The thought Westerfield put into his alternate world is amazing. Everything feels real in its own right. The Darwinists and Clankers fascinated me, and even the 'science' of the Leviathan made sense to me. Very clever, Mr. Westerfield, very clever.

The commentary and curse-words amused me. It was pretty easy to figure out what they meant, and they did fit the dialogue well. I really enjoyed how Westerfield was aiming for time-period feel with his novel, complete with the formatting and the wonderful illustrations by illustrator Keith Thompson. Thompson accented Westerfield's work brilliantly. The characters were exactly how I pictured, and the scenes he drew for us made everything so much more of an aesthetic adventure.

Props to them both!

"Our dreams are the reverse of our waking imaginations; the motions when we are awake, beginning at one end; and when we dream at another." Chapter 2, pg. 13.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: Incarceron

by Catherine Fisher
Read End July/Beginning August 2011

“A prison like no other.
It gives life.
It deals death.
It watches all.”

That quote is so true in describing Incarceron. This book is one of the few that literally sent my mind in a spin. You haven't met 'trippy' till you've met Incarceron.

It took me for the ride of my life as I clung to each page. When I read, I see things like I'm actually there and boy, was this a wild ride. At times I could see it, but the descriptions the author gave us really felt, well. . . alive. The words didn't just come to life as if in other novels, but it literally felt like the novel was always moving. To me it felt like Incarceron, the novel, breathed—constantly weaving, moving, changing.

Fisher paints a living prison and a unique world for us to explore. My only complaint is that with Sapphique, I tried to figure out who he was the entire time, and often I felt like Fisher was leading us in circles, saying one thing, then throwing us a curve ball next. It made me frustrated after awhile and I talked with a friend who has read both Incarceron and its sequel, Sapphique. According to her we are supposed to feel that way and it makes sense later why Fisher did that—I'm glad to know it wasn't just me!

Some of my favorite quotes:

“All my years to this moment
All my roads to this wall.
All my words to this silence
All my pride to this fall.” -Songs of Sapphique

“I do this for freedom,” he said calmly. “In a world that offers none.”

Review: On Hitler's Mountain

On Hitler's Mountain
Imgard A. Hunt
Read July 2011

When you pick up On Hitler's Mountain, you are in for a vigorous treat! One that displays Nazi Germany from a Nazi child's perspective. Not only does this sound interesting, but it proves to be what I'd confidentially say is one of the best things I have ever read, especially on the subject. Hunt gives us an honest account.

Imgard talks about the gradual rise of Hitler, and the crashing fall of the nation of Germany after wards. She shows us how Hitler romanced the impoverished and struggling minds of Germany, feeding on their fears by promising new change. It is a vast display of how Hitler seduced a nation and played one of grandest-scale mind games in humankind's history. The way Hunt presents it is refreshing and I found myself clinging to each page. While it was a biography, I found myself as entranced as I would be with an exciting fiction piece.

One thing that I do think helped with her presentation is the brief inserts about the Holocaust. It wasn't as if she was trying to avoid them, but it makes sense not to have them brought up with this biography. She tells us about her interactions with Jews, and things she noticed or heard, but otherwise that aspect was kept to a minimal, which I think helps our book here.

Also, I loved that she included pictures every once in awhile—ones that actually fit and accented her story. Most of them were photos taken or possessed by her family.

I recommend this to anyone who finds this time era fascinating, or enjoys a vigorous read.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love
Francine Rivers
July 2011

Oh man . . . where to start?

I must say, I was pretty excited when I finally got my hands on a copy and it didn't disappoint! By the end of the novel you will either 1, be crying your eyes out, or, 2, sitting there numb as your process everything you just read.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Redeeming Love, it is a story set in 1850 during California's Gold Rush. Angel—one of our two MCs—was sold into prostitution as a child and that's all she's ever known since. One day a God-fearing man named Michael Hosea stumbles into her life and declares that God told him she was to be his wife and he wasn't leaving without her. And he sticks to that, despite all the protest and disapproving hate he gets along the way. When Angel leaves him multiple times, he doesn't give up as he lovingly and painstakingly cracks through the casing around her.

“I want to fill your life with color and warmth. I want to fill it with light.” -Michael Hosea

Redeeming Love is a retelling of the book of Hosea in a total skin-peeling way that will leave you raw by the time you finish it. This is a novel about redemption that I think speaks a little to each of us.

I didn't have any issues with this book. Writing was smooth and all characters were sound. Not without human flaws, but the characters were sound in writing.

Francine Rivers delivers a powerful, raw, and emotionally gripping ride in Redeeming Love.