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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

29. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan



Title: The Lightning Thief
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1
Author: Rick Riordan
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 392
Twitter: @camphalfblood
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 4-21-09

OK, this was just a plain fun book. The Lightning Thief is the first installment in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which answers the question of what would the Greek gods be doing if they still existed today. Riordan sticks to the "rules and regulations" of the ancient myths, making sure that his story fits in the criteria of how the gods can interact with the real world, as opposed to changing established myths and lore to fit his needs, and I appreciated the story that much more for the effort that he put forth in that regard.

The story is fairly formulaic in the way most YA fantasy is these days: boy is an outcast and doesn't fit in with the normal crowd and doesn't know why; boy has a very dysfunctional family at home; boy discovers that he is actually something more than normal (in this, a demigod); boy goes off to specialized school to fit his needs; boy makes two friends (1 boy and 1 girl); boy immediately makes rival at school; boy goes on quest; boy confronts evil being and defeats him when he obviously shouldn't have been able and in the end proves his worth above and beyond what anyone expects. Because the story is so formulaic, I found certain elements of the plot fairly predictable, but that didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.

My biggest problem with the book is the pacing at the beginning. Fairly early on in the book, Percy suffers a significant personal loss that he seems to get over in the course of a day. And within the week, he has come to complete terms with the changes in his life and accepts everything about his new life as a demigod in complete stride. It seemed like Riordan needed his story to move along quicker, so made Percy assimilate some rather significant changes in his life a little too quickly for my taste. This just seemed a bit too rushed. The rest of the book moved along quickly, but didn't seem quite as rushed. The ending was satisfying, tying up just enough of the plot threads and leaving just enough questions to make me want to see what happens next.

Several friends have been pushing for me to read this series for awhile now, and I'm glad that I finally caved to the peer pressure! Setting aside all of it's predictability, The Lightning Thief is a great read and if you are a fan of Greek mythology, I think you'd really enjoy it. I'm anxious to get to the next in the series!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

28. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka



Title: The Metamorphosis and Other Stories
Author: Franz Kafka
Copyright: 1915 (1996)
Pages: 218
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 2/5 stars
Finished: 4-9-09

Truth to tell, I don't have much to talk about on this one. It is what it is, a bizarre and not always pleasing collection of novellas, the most famous of which is The Metamorphosis. I can't say that I enjoyed them, nor can I say that I didn't enjoy them. I took nothing away from any of the stories, and will probably never read this volume again. As you can see, I'm rather impartial to the entire thing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

27. X-Men: Endangered Species by Mike Carey, et al.



Title: X-Men: Endangered Species
Series: X-Men
Authors: Mike Carey, et al.
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 192
Publisher: Marvel
Twitter: @marvel
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 4-5-09

After the events of House of M, there are less than 200 mutants alive in the world, and they are looking at the extinction of their species. The X-Man Beast decides to take it upon himself to find a cure for this problem, crossing boundaries he never thought he'd cross to find that cure.

It is an interesting premise; what lengths would you go to ensure the survival of your species? I think the X-Men comics have been wallowing for some time now, not knowing what direction to go in, but I think the stories and ideas that can come out of this graphic novel are a good starting point.

26. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie



Title: The Body in the Library
Series: Miss Marple Mysteries
Author: Agatha Christie
Copyright: 1942 (2000)
Pages: 220
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 4-4-09

"Oh ma'am, oh ma'am, there's a body in the library!" And so starts Col. and Mrs. Bantry's day. It seems that the body of a young, platinum blonde girl has shown up in the library, and no one knows how she got there. By the end of the day, there are plenty of suspects, but still no answers. Enter Jane Marple. In typical Miss Marple fashion, she cuts to the quick of the problem and discovers the secrets that everyone is hiding and helps find the killer.

I have to admit, having finished The Thirteen Problems not that long ago, I can say that Christie's strength lies when she is writing a full novel. Her short stories seemed so strained after reading this. The Body in the Library was a fairly easy read, and was quite enjoyable. I also like the fact that Christie does carry over several of the local characters of St. Mary Meade from one story to the next.

Next on the list, The Moving Finger.

25. The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess, et al.



Title: The Book of Ballads
Authors: Charles Vess, et al.
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 179
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4/5 stars
Finished: 4-5-09

Charles Vess' The Book of Ballads is a unique collection of Scottish, English and Irish ballads and folktales that have been reimagined into sequential art form with illustrations throughout by Vess and stories rewritten by Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, Jane Yolen, Jeff Smith, Emma Bull, Sharyn McCrumb, among other, and with an introduction by Terri Windling. The source ballads and folktales are also presented with each story. It is interesting to see how each author reinterprets the story, either by creating a story that follows the original most faithfully, or taking it and using simply as a guideline to tell his or her own unique story. Vess' illustrations are gorgeous throughout. They really are the main focus of each and every tale. I found myself reading through each tale and then going back and pouring over each page again, simply looking at the art. If you are a fan of either ballads of or Vess' art, you will not be disappointed in this book.

24. Behind the Mask... No More by Byron Nease



Title: Behind the Mask... No More
Author: Byron Nease
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 165
Format: Paperback from publisher
Rating: 3/5 stars
Finished: 4-5-09

Behind the Mask... No More is Byron Nease's journey from an abused childhood to accepting himself as a gay, HIV+ adult. Nease has worked on Broadway for many years, in such productions as the revival of Auntie Mame opposite Angela Lansbury to playing Raoul in the Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages Theatre in Toronto. I found Nease's storytelling to be a little jumbled, especially the chapters when he was talking about his family (there were so many of them) but overall, he is able to tell what he wants to tell. Truthfully, my favorite chapter was about his grandmother, when she lived with him during her final years. It was a touching chapter, and you can tell that he really loved his grandmother dearly. I also wish that there was a better time frame in the book. It seemed to jump around some, and the inclusion of years so that we knew when what was happening would have been beneficial. I was impressed with the chapters when he finally comes around to his adult years of living with HIV for so long, and surviving with it. I think it is important for people to know that you can survive the disease, and that more people like Nease need to step forward and remind people of that.

Overall, it is a touching book, written from the heart, and one that, in its own way, is inspirational.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy


Title: The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 241
ISBN: 9780307265432
Publisher: Knopf
Author Website:
Twitter: @AAKnopf
Format: Hardcover
Available: September 26, 2006
Rating: 5/5 stars
Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2007)

An amazing book, Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a story of survival; of surviving when there seems nothing worth surviving for. It is the story of a man and his child, crossing a country burned to ash, by the only means possible, the road, neither knowing if they will survive one day to the next, but surviving for each other. And that is when their survival becomes necessary, as they are living for each other. It is a story stark in its telling, stripped down, like the landscape and people that it describes, to the barest and necessary elements. I read it in three sittings, needing to take a couple of days between each reading to take in all that I had read.

The story follows a man and his son as they cross the country in search of the coast. They are traveling by the road, carrying all their worldly possessions in a shopping cart. The world has been burned away to ash, the landscape scavenged and looted years before, leaving no food or water. How they have survived this far is amazing. I can tell you that this is a desolate story from the very beginning. The feeling of despair that McCarthy expresses on the page is tangible, making those few moments of hope and happiness for the man and his son truly shine through.

I don't think this is a book for everyone. It's not an easy book to read, but it is a powerful story, ultimately of hope. It's hard to find hope in this story, but I think it's there. It's what made life livable for the man and his son, even when everything else around them made it seem impossible.

To purchase any of the books in this post, and help my local Indie bookstore, and help me buy more books, click the links above!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

22. The Love Potion Murders in the Museum of Man by Alfred Alcorn

LibraryThing Early Reviewers



Title: The Love Potion Murders in the Museum of Man
Author: Alfred Alcorn
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 288
Format: ARC from publisher through LTER program
Rating: 2/5 stars
Finished: 4-1-09

I received The Love Potion Murders in the Museum of Man from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. I finished it awhile ago, and have been trying to decide how to write about it. I won't generally read other reviews before I write my own, but I had to double check some of the other reviews on LT to make sure I wasn't the only person who had trouble with the book. I had quite the love/hate relationship with this book. When the story was moving, I found it witty and the mystery had some level of uniqueness to it, but when the book was slow, it was agonizingly slow, to the point where on more than one occasion I had to drag myself through it and convince myself not to put it down for good. However, I can say that I might have to see if I can come across the first book in the series some time, but only if there is absolutely nothing on Mt. TBR that catches my interest first.

Book giveaway - Penelope Przekop's Aberrations

If you are a member of LibraryThing (and if you're not, you should be!), Penelope Przekop is giving away 10 copies of her book Aberrations as part of LT's Member Giveaway program. Head on over there right now and request a copy. You won't be disappointed! (Unless you don't get selected, and then you should be disappointed - it's a fantastic book!)