Sunday, March 31, 2013

the walking dead, vol. 16-18

the walking dead, vol. 16
the walking dead, vol. 17
the walking dead, vol. 18
robert kirkman
graphic novels/horror
image comics
published 2012-2013

Let's not be ridiculous.  We all know what The Walking Dead is about.

I don't know at this point if I'm reading these out of loyalty or if I enjoy them.  Actually, I don't enjoy them.  There is nothing enjoyable about this series anymore.  It just gets worse.

It's just gotten boring.  There's not much that can happen at this point.  It's run, settle, kill some human, horde comes, kill some zombies, run, repeat.  Now we're just getting into the 'there's more people alive than we thought and they're not good people.'

There's a lot to be said for humanity and how you would react in this situation.  We can't know if we'd be Andreas or Ricks or Glens or Maggies because you don't know until you're face first in a pile of shit like they are, but Rick is so goddamn annoying I can't care if he lives or dies.  And despite everyone talking about how great the TV show is because they kill off anyone, Rick just won't die (at least in the books) because he is the glue that holds this series together.  But I'm so sick and tired of him moaning about how he never wanted to be a leader.  Then how about this, stop bossing people around.

But I get it.  He's surrounded by morons.  Literally.  Somehow, everyone that had brains has died (their brains were very appealing to the zombies I guess) and everyone that's left has absolutely no common sense whatsoever.  So if shit is going to get done and the people he loves are going to be safe he's going to step it up.  I wish he'd just stop whining about it.

And that's where I am right now.  It's become so repetitive that I just don't care about anyone right now.  The people that I cared about, who still had an ounce of humanity left are all dead and the ones I could have cared about have become husks of human beings.

But I'll probably keep reading it....

a series of unfortunate events

the bad beginning
the reptile room
a series of unfortunate events series 1 & 2
lemony snicket
published 2009

Dear Reader, I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune. In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast. It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket

I know that these books are much beloved and considered at this point children's classics, but I just couldn't love them.  And it's not that they're written for younger kids.  I have no problem with Harry Potter & I love Gregor the Overlander, but maybe I'm just too much in need of happy endings in kids books.  And Mr. Snicket constantly reminds us that these books are not happy ending books.  At least he's honest about that.  I both love & hate the way so many words are defined in the book.  Hate because it gets tiresome when I already know the definitions.  It breaks up the pace of the book for me.  I love them because thinking as a parent this is a great way to introduce words that kids might not know and define words in a fun and easy to incorporate way.

I do also love the 'back story' of Lemony Snicket.  I love how Daniel Handler created this character and made this entire story to explain why Lemony Snicket is writing about the Baudelaire children.  

I'm not saying these are bad books, I just could love them and don't have much desire to finish out the series.  Maybe Emma will love them!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

prince of the elves

prince of the elves
amulet series #5
kazu kibuishi
graphic novel/fantasy/adventure/ya
published 2012

Emily survived the chaos of the Guardian Academy, but Max Griffin has stolen the Mother Stone. With it, the Elf King forges new Amulets that will give him the power to invade and destroy the nation of Windsor. Emily and her friends lead the soldiers of the Cielis Guard in a fight to stop him, but Max stands in their way. Emily seeks information from the Voice of her Amulet, but instead she discovers the Voice is much more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

Here we are full of history, Trellis's history mostly, but bits of Max's as well although there is still much mystery surrounding him as well.

The war is beginning and the Guardian Council is quite outnumbered.  Emily is getting stronger though and she is done waiting for answers.  She's a great character.  And the ending, although not the end, was great.  I only wish I had started reading this when the series was complete so I didn't have to wait to find out what happens next!

the last coucil

the last council
amulet series #4
kazu kibuishi
graphic novel/fantasy/adventure/ya
published 2011

Emily and her friends think they'll find the help they need in Cielis, but something isn't right. Streets that were once busy are deserted, and the townspeople who are left live in crippling fear. Emily is escorted to the Academy where she's expected to compete for a spot on the Guardian Council, the most powerful Stonekeepers. But as the number of competitors gets smaller and smaller, a terrible secret is slowly uncovered--a secret that, if left buried, means certain destruction of everything Emily fights for. 

Nothing is as it seems & nothing is as it should be.

In the last book I was thinking to myself that Emily & Trellis needed to learn to trust each other in order to get what they both want.  This time I was thinking Emily needs to trust others less and herself more.

That's really all I can say about that without giving too much away.

The art is amazing, as usual and the story moves along quickly.  Maybe too quickly in some spots.

Evil, evil, evil everywhere....

the cloud searchers

the cloud searchers
amulet series #3
kazu kibuishi
graphic novel/fantasy/adventure/ya
published 2010

In the third installment of the thrilling Amulet series, Emily, Navin, and their crew of resistance fighters charter an airship and set off in search of the lost city of Cielis, which is believed to be located on an island high above the clouds. The mysterious Leon Redbeard is their guide, and there's a surprising new addition to the crew: the Elf King's son, Trellis. But is he ally or enemy? And will Emily ever be able to trust the voice of the Amulet?

A little slower than its predecessors, The Cloud Searchers takes us to the skies on the hunt for a city that is thought to have been decimated.  Myths say that the Council took the city to the clouds to protect and rebuild.

Even though there was a lot going on, I felt like nothing happened.  How does that make sense?  I don't know.  But surprisingly, Luger is becoming one of my favorite characters.  He kind of reminds me of Uncle Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

the stonekeeper's curse

the stonekeeper's curse
amulet series #2
kazu kibuishi
graphic novel/fantasy/adventure/ya
published 2009

Emily and Navin's mother is still in a coma from the arachnopod's poison, and there's only one place to find help: Kanalis, the bustling, beautiful city of waterfalls. But when Em, her brother, and Miskit and the rest of the robotic crew aboard the walking house reach the city, they quickly realize that seeking help is looking for trouble, dangerous trouble. 

I've got to say, there's something about a walking, fighting giant house that makes me happy.  Especially when it's drawn so magnificently.

We're introduced to a whole new cast of characters, starting with Leon Redbeard, a fox who is destined to help Emily on her path and serve as a sort of bodyguard/sensei to her.  We find the people of Kanalis are slowly turning into different sorts of animals and are oppressed by the rule of the elves.

Emily fights to keep control of her own self as the amulet's promises sound more and more tempting.  Navin is left to care for their mother and command an army of misfit animals who would rather die than give into the elves. 

Beautifully drawn, great pacing and with much emotion and anticipation.  Kazu Kibuishi tells a sweeping story that has only really just begun.

the legend of zelda manga series


oracle of ages
four swords, part 1
four swords, part 2
minish cap
a link to the past
phantom hourglass
akira himekawa
graphic novel/manga/adventure/ya
viz media
published 2009-2010

The Legend of Zelda manga series is a collection of 10 books that are written in collaboration by two women, A. Honda & S. Nagano.  When they started they played all the games so they could get an idea of the story and then they sat an elaborated to create the books.

I'd say they've done a great job.  The Four Swords story might have been my favorite just because of the 4 Links trying to get along and work as a team.  They were pretty funny kids.  Although, Phantom Hourglass was truly in the style of The Windwaker (my favorite Zelda game thus far) and even had Tetra in it!

There's a great attention to detail from Link to his companions to the enemies he fights.  It's so much more interesting to read the conversations and see the familiar places from the games from a different perspective.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

luther: the calling

luther: the calling
neil cross
published 2012

Meet Detective Chief Inspector John Luther. He's a murder detective. A near-genius. He's brilliant; he's intense; he's instinctive. He's obsessional. He's dangerous. DCI John Luther has an extraordinary clearance rate. He commands outstanding loyalty from friends and colleagues. Nobody who ever stood at his side has a bad word to say about him. And yet there are rumours that DCI Luther is bad - not corrupt, not on the take, but tormented. Luther seethes with a hidden fury that at times he can barely control. Sometimes it sends him to the brink of madness, making him do things he shouldn't; things way beyond the limits of the law.




One day I was trolling around the interwebs looking at stuff about when my favorite BBC shows were coming back on and I discovered that there was a book written about Luther.  Now, if you have never seen the show I urge you to go out right now and watch it.  It streams on Netflix.  If you don't have a Netflix subscription get one and watch Luther.  You won't regret it.

I checked my library and lo & behold they actually had the book.  I figured I might as well.  After all, I read the Nikki Heat book 'written' by Richard Castle and that one sucked butt so this couldn't be any worse.  To my utter excitement I found out that the book is written by Neil Cross, creator & sole writer for the TV show.  Score!

And boy did I score.

Luther: The Calling takes place during the events just before the series begins.  It explains everything that has driven John Luther to become the person he now is on the show.  We get to find out exactly what happened just before the opening scene in the first episode of one of the best shows on TV.  And it's so good.

I bit all my nails and then some.  I was immersed and completely lost in this book.  It's suspense, it's a thriller and it's part horror.  It's frightening, grisly, depraved and utterly fantastic.  Neil Cross already speaks Luther.  He made Luther.  Going from television to paper is seamless AND IT EXPLAINS EVERYTHING!!!  If you have watched the show you will read through this book and have those 'holy shit' moments where everything begins to come together.  Things that happen in the second season of the show are given their first breaths of life on these pages.

It's magnificent.  The dust cover promises that this is the first book in a planned series.  I'm not sure if that's still the plan, but if it is I'm all in.  This was an amazing piece of work and I think I would have been blown away even if I'd never seen the show.  This is the first time that I can remember reading a book by an Edgar award winner and being in complete agreement.  Go forth and read this book and then watch the show.  Or watch the show and get the book.  It doesn't matter which way you decide to do it, just do it.

private: #1 suspect

private: #1 suspect
private series #2
james patterson & maxine paetro
little, brown & co.
published 2012

Unsolvable cases Since former Marine Jack Morgan started Private, it has become the world's most effective investigation firm--sought out by the famous and the powerful to discreetly handle their most intimate problems. Private's investigators are the smartest, the fastest, and the most technologically advanced in the world--and they always uncover the truth. Impossible murders When his former lover is found murdered in Jack Morgan's bed, he is instantly the number one suspect. While Jack is under police investigation, the mob strong-arms him into recovering $30 million in stolen pharmaceuticals for them. And the beautiful manager of a luxury hotel chain persuades him to quietly investigate a string of murders at her properties. The #1 suspect is Jack Morgan While Jack is fighting for his life, one of his most trusted colleagues threatens to leave Private, and Jack realizes he is confronting the cleverest and most powerful enemies ever.

Jack Morgan is not a good man.  At least, he's not a very likeable character.  And calling his car 'Lambo' doesn't do anything to endear me to him either.

What I do like about the Private books so far is the sheer number of crap that's going on.  Sometimes that can get confusing, but I like that Private is a successful investigation agency and they've got more than one ball up in the air.  Each case is unique and intriguing and some could even merit their own book, but it keeps things from getting stale.

What I don't like about the Private books so far is mainly just Jack.  He's kind of blech.  For a smart guy he makes a bunch of idiotic decision.  I also don't enjoy how he takes credit for things he shouldn't.  Twice he mentions how he has a theory that, dot-dot-dot.  But he didn't come up with that theory, Del Rio & Cruz did through their investigating.  Give the guys who do the actual work some credit.

Since this is only the second book I've yet to read any taking place in the satellite offices so I'm kind of interested to see how those are.  I'm pretty partial to Justine, Del Rio & Cruz.  I'll have to read to find out if their counterparts exist in London or Berlin.

kill alex cross

kill alex cross
alex cross series #18
james patterson
little, brown & co.
published 2011

The President's son and daughter are abducted, and Detective Alex Cross is one of the first on the scene. But someone very high-up is using the FBI, Secret Service, and CIA to keep him off the case and in the dark. A deadly contagion in the water supply cripples half of the capital, and Alex discovers that someone may be about to unleash the most devastating attack the United States has ever experienced. As his window for solving both crimes narrows, Alex makes a desperate decision that goes against everything he believes--one that may alter the fate of the entire country.

There is a marked difference between the Alex Cross series and every other James Patterson book.  My theory is that at this point in his career he writes the Alex Cross books and everything else he leaves up to his co-writer and puts his name on it.  The trademarked three page chapters are always present, but the excessive use of italics and exclamation points and stupid one liners from crazed villains are noticeably absent.  Which makes me extremely happy.  This is the James Patterson I love.

There are two stories going on here.  The kidnapping of the President's children and attack on the water supply, while possibly connected, run parallel to each other.  Shared but separate investigations you could say.  I wasn't a huge fan of the other stuff.  I only wanted to focus on the kidnappings.  Maybe because it was so reminiscent of the Soneji kidnappings back in Along Came a Spider.  Which makes me want to go back and read all the old Alex Cross books.

Really good, really exciting, nail-biter of a book.  My only concern is how long can Nana Mama can last in this series.  She's got to be close to 100 by now.


delirium series #3
lauren oliver
harper collins
published 2013

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

 this is the past:  it drifts, it gathers.  if you are not careful it will bury you.

And finally, it's over.

Nonstop, crazy action going on here.  If you weren't immersed in the Resistance with Lena you were trapped in a mansion with a crazy man with Hana.  It was pretty much just like that.  Seriously, there was very little down time in Requiem.

Despite being a trilogy with three (four if you count the short Alex at the end of the book) short stories focusing on background characters it is almost as if this story is too big to tell in just three books.  Oliver gives us a chance to write our own endings I suppose as there is so much we don't know at this point.  Who made it out, who didn't and to be certain, whose victory was it to claim?

I was right in dreading Alex's return, but I see why it had to be that way.  I wish ..... I wish there was more.  And not because I want the story to be neverending, but because I feel like there's so many characters that were so fleshed out and we got cheated out of our chance to hear their stories.  Coral, Pippa, Beast, Bram, Tack, Lu, Grace....I don't remember ever reading a book where I wanted to know so much about so many other characters.

At this point I've read Before I Fall, Liesl & Po and the Delirium trilogy.  I have The Spindlers on my Kindle so that one will round out my Lauren Oliver collection quite nicely.  I love that Oliver is diverse in her writing.  Fantasy, dystopian, introspective, what have you, she's not afraid to write it.

thief eyes

thief eyes
janni lee simner
random house
published 2010

After her mother mysteriously disappears, sixteen-year-old Haley convinces her father to take her to Iceland, where her mother was last seen. There, amidst the ancient fissures and crevices of that volcanic island, Haley meets gorgeous Ari, a boy with a dangerous side who appoints himself her protector. When Haley picks up a silver coin that entangles her in a spell cast by her ancestor Hallgerd, she discovers that Hallgerd's spell and her mother's disappearance are connected to a chain of events that could unleash terrifying powers and consume the world. Haley must find a way to contain the growing fires of the spell—and her growing attraction to Ari. 

Back in 2009 I read Runemarks by Joanne Harris.  I wasn't in love with that book, mainly because I felt that Harris assumed the reader was already familiar with Norse mythology so at times I felt lost.  Still, while reading Thief Eyes, I felt like this was just a less complicated, watered down version of Runemarks.

The only commonality they have is the mythology.  Munin & Freki are really the only two recognizable characters from Norse mythology, but it is implied at one point that Odin is on his way though neither Freki or Munin ever refer to him by name.

The first third of the book I was pulled in immediately.  Haley and her father return to Iceland because Haley must see with her own eyes the place her mother was last seen.  There is talk of an affair, of a spell, of ancient debts and bargains with fire and everything was oh-so-interesting.  But then it just kind of drags on.  Ari (who of course, is gorgeous) and Haley must trek some 200 kilometers (or miles, I can't remember which) and so the rest of the book just seems to focus on this walk.  Until finally, the climax of the story and then another two chapters of wrap up that were completely unnecessary.

When compared to the Faerie books (Bones of Faerie & Faerie Winter) this book doesn't hold a candle.  I loved the Faerie books and this one I could have done without.

the perks of being a wallflower

the perks of being a wallflower
stephen chbosky
demco books
published 1999

Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Another one of those books that I've been meaning to read, but just never got around to it until finally, now and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long!

Charlie is starting his first year in high school.  For every teenager this is an uncertain, exciting, terrifying time and Charlie chooses to deal with it by writing letters anonymously to a person he heard was a good person.  Does that make sense?  He overheard two girls talking about this guy who could have taken advantage of a (possibly) drunk/passed out girl, but he didn't.  Charlie decides that a person like that is someone he can tell all of his secrets to, confide in and that person will keep his secrets.

So he begins by explaining why he's writing and delves into life as a high schooler on the fringes of everything.  He has no friends after his one friend in middle school commits suicide so he starts out his freshman year alone, but not for long.  In an uncharacteristic burst of daring Charlie says hi to a senior in his woodshop class at a football game.  Patrick and the beautiful Sam immediately take Charlie in.  I think about what a wonderful world this would be if everyone was like Sam & Patrick.  Friends just because.  Taking a kid under their wing and truly taking the time to appreciate him.

I've read a few reviews about how Charlie doesn't sound like a 15/16 year old kid.  His speech, his writing is immature.  At first I agreed.  The speech seemed too young, like a 10 or 11 year old.  But then I thought back to my writing when I was in high school, especially when I first started writing and it was probably similar.  We're so used to books & TV shows & movies where the kids talk like the age the actors actually are and not how actual teenagers really talk or write.  Not everyone is Hemmingway.  But also, well, Charlie is immature. 

I wasn't quite expecting the end.  It felt out of left field at first, but then I realized that he was leading up to this revelation from the beginning.  He'd been leading us to this place of honesty and pain and it explained so much.

And now it's over.  I want to gather this book up and hold it inside me forever.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

gregor & the marks of secret

gregor & the marks of secret
underland chronicles #4
suzanne collins
published 2007

In Book 4 of the bestselling Underland Chronicles, Gregor is drawn ever deeper into a brewing crisis. For generations, rats have run the mice out of whatever lands they've claimed, keeping them constantly on the move. But now the mice are disappearing and the young queen Luxa is determined to find out why.

Gregor and Boots join Luxa on a simple fact-finding mission. But when the true fate of the mice is revealed, it is something far more sinister than they had imagined -- and it points the way to the final prophecy Gregor has yet to fulfill. His abilities are put to the test in this suspenseful, action-packed penultimate installment of Suzanne Collins's thrilling Underland Chronicles.

Whaaaaaaaaat was up with that ending?!  At least in the previous 3 books there was some sort of conclusion, but not this time.  Aaargh!  Curse you cliffhanger ending!

Oh, I can't believe how quickly Gregor has grown up.  His voice is so much more mature and though he has his moments of petulance he is still years older than he should be.

The books keep getting darker, the heaviness weighs on my heart.  Is there no happiness destined for Luxa and the Underlanders?  Gregor and Luxa are laying the groundwork for a battle that 12 year olds should not know how to fight.  The world is at a breaking point and allowances made in previous books are coming back to haunt them all.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

forged in grace

forged in grace
jordan e. rosenfeld
iv ink
published 2013

At age 15, a horrific fire left Grace Jensen scarred and highly sensitive to the pain of anyone she touches. Thirteen years later, living with her hoarder mother and half-in-love with her former doctor, her long-absent best friend, Marly Kennet, returns to town and convinces Grace to make a leap-of-faith trip to Las Vegas. There, Grace discovers she doesn’t only feel others’ pain, she can heal it. This healing gift soon turns darker when the truth of Marly’s past and the fire that scarred Grace is revealed, pushing the boundaries of loyalty and exposing both women to danger.

I have found that the characters we want to like are not always the ones we end up falling in love with.  The ones who we find to be constricting and may label the antagonist are maybe the heroes after all.

Jordan Rosenfeld has written a book that I am so genuinely surprised by.  As it began I instantly felt protective towards Grace.  After all, she was damaged, putting on this brave face, living under her mother's crazy thumb.  How do you not root for the underdog?  How do you not want everything in her life to come up roses?

Then enters Marly.  She's beautiful, bold and bubbly.  She embraces Grace and reveals a mother's deceit.  She wants to make Grace's life better.  She wants to protect and encourage her.  But I could never fall in love with Marly.  She was wrong.  And it wasn't the hints at her mental illness.  Goodness knows I have no room to judge there.  But it was something.  I didn't trust her, I didn't like her.

But I wanted to.

There were so many twists and turns and lies and betrayals that in the end I was left with my head spinning.  Thinking endlessly in this loop of 'what just happened there?'  Rosenfeld has seamlessly fused reality with fantasy, thriller with romance, graphic with tender and horrific with beauty.  She writes of pain and loss and forgiveness.

She writes with brilliance.

born in shame

born in shame
concannon sisters trilogy #3
nora roberts
published 1996

A talented graphic artist, Shannon Bodine's life revolved around her job at a prestigious New York advertising agency. But her world was turned upside down whe she learned the identity of her real father: Thomas Concannon. Respecting her late mother's last wish, Shannon reluctantly traveled to County Clare. There, her loneliness and shame melted away in the embrace of the family she never knew existed. And amid the lush Irish landscape steeped in mysticism and legend, she discovered the possibility of a love that was meant to be...

A true classic for me finally concludes....again.  I remember when I first read this trilogy I read them out of order, starting with this one.  This time I read them in the correct order and I still loved every page.

I wished more fiercely that Tom Concannon was still alive.  I would have loved, as Shannon might have, to see them dance around a relationship, but the story wouldn't have worked as well if he hadn't passed in the beginning.  Shannon's not my favorite sister (that would be Maggie, I think - hard to choose), but she's a great character anyway.  Murphy, on the other hand was my favorite of the men of County Clare.  And as always, I'm sad to leave the Concannon sisters in Ireland.  Maybe someday Nora Roberts will revisit and show us Liam and Kayla all grown up!

the promise, part 1

the promise, part 1
avatar: the last airbender
gene luen yang & gurihiru
graphic novels/ya/adventure
dark horse
published 2012

Picking up exactly where Avatar: The Last Airbender left off, The Promise takes Aang to a Fire Nation colony in the heart of the Earth Nation, where tensions between neighbors threaten to shatter the world's newfound peace - putting the Avatar on a collision course with one of his closest friends, Fire Lord Zuko!

Although the Nickelodeon cartoon series concluded with a happy (per se) ending, I always wanted to continue on with Aang and crew to see where their lives would take them.  This is a nice compromise to another season of animation.

This is exactly what the series needed to continue and as it was when it was on TV the book deals with real life issues in the imaginary Airbender world.  Sure, they defeated Ozai and ended the war, but just like real life, that doesn't mean everything is wonderful from here on out.  Everyone wants peace, but not everyone wants to make the sacrifices to get there.

The only thing that threw me off was Aang and Katara's excessive use of the endearment 'sweetie'.  The first time was for effect and it worked, but every time after that I caught myself wincing.  I just didn't see either of them ever talking like that.  I guess I have to agree with Sokka.  It gives me the oogies!

Monday, March 18, 2013

the elsewhere chronicles

the elsewhere chronicles
the shadow door
the shadow spies
the master of shadows
the calling
the parting
bannister & nykko
graphic novels/ya/horror/fantasy
graphic universe
published 2009-2011

It's bad enough when Max, Rebecca, Noah, and Theo just think Grandpa Gabe's house is haunted.  But then the old movie projector in the library opens a passageway to a world of monsters and creatures made of shadows - a place of secrets and dangers set loose when the sun sets.  The only weapons to fight them lie in the land on the other side of the Shadow Door . . .

Creepy, funny, sad and hopeful are the words I would use to describe this series of books.  I picked them up at the library when I was waiting for Emma the other day thinking she would like them, but the cover for The Parting was slightly creepy so I decided to read them first.  Good thing I did!

I've seen the books recommended for ages 7+ and also 9+ and I think the 9+ is more accurate.  The books deal with some heavy issues, like death, child abuse and terminal illness.  Nothing too graphic, but heavy nonetheless.  While I'm sure Emma could 'handle' it, I think we can wait a couple of years first.

But I did enjoy them!  The art is reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes, especially Max.  The full color books lend to the richness of the Elsewhere world that the kids find themselves in.  Despite their issues the kids are bonded and only want to look out for each other and help keep everyone safe.  While they are certainly brave and courageous, there are always moments of showing their age so that it's clear that these are still, despite their adventures, children.

There are still many questions left unanswered and things begin to get a little confusing near the end of The Parting, ending with a 'To be continued' cliffhanger.  And yet, I can't find anything about another volume coming out anytime soon.  Hopefully, that's change soon!

sorcerers & secretaries

sorcerers & secretaries, vol. 1
amy kim ganter
graphic novel/romance/ya/fantasy
tokyo pop
published 2006

Nicole Hayes sure likes to daydream, especially during her boring part-time job as a receptionist.  When she's alone with her notebook, she crafts a fantastic story and lets her imagination go-go-go!  Meanwhile, Nicole's former neighbor Josh can't seem to snap her out of her daydreams and get her to notice him.  If only he could see what it was she was dreaming about, maybe Josh could win her over.

Not a fan. 

Maybe reading so many English translated mangas has spoiled me, but this just seemed to fall flat.  Nicole is not endearing, her friend Sarah has no depth and Josh is just a desperate weirdo.  The only real interesting thing is the dream that Nicole has and continues to write about.  I thought there would be more to that, but the whole story dragged on about Josh trying to get Nicole to go out with him.

I know this is part one of a two part series, but I wasn't left with a feeling of needing to know what becomes of the characters.  Even Ellon being left in the lurch isn't interesting enough for me.

Too bad.

yotsuba&!, vol. 1

kiyohiko azuma
graphic novel/manga/ya/comedy
adv manga
published 2005

From the nutty mind of Kyohiko Azuma, creator of the hit manga Azumanga Daioh comes the story of the new kid in town - little Yotsuba, a green-haired and wide-eyed girl who doesn't have a clue... about anything! With no knowledge of the world around her, and an unnatural fear of air conditioners, Yotsuba has her new neighbors' heads spinning. Join the hilarious exploits of an out-of-this-world schoolgirl as her befuddled friends attempt to uncover the secrets behind this strange child in Yotsubato!

This was such a cute and funny book!  I love Yotsuba!  She's goofy, completely uninhibited and adorable!  Yotsuba and her dad move to a new town and make quite an impression on their next door neighbors.  Each chapter is a new adventure.  Moving in, getting a TV, going on a cicada hunt....endless fun!

Friday, March 15, 2013

the stonekeeper

the stonekeeper
amulet series #1
kazu kibuishi
graphic novel/fantasy/adventure/ya
published 2008

After a family tragedy, Emily, Navin and their mother move to an ancestral home to start a new life.  On the family's very first night in the mysterious house, Em and Navin's mom is kidnapped by a tentacled creature.  Now it's up to Em and Navin to figure out how to set things right and save their mother's life!

Why does every graphic novel I read require the death of one or both parents!!  It's so sad.  Like a Disney movie!

It's bad enough, the loss of a father, but actually witnessing his death is sure to make a kid grow up fast.  And Emily has.  She's serious and strong and she doesn't have a problem making tough choices.  Still, she's a young kid and pushes back a little to show she's not entirely happy with the changes that are taking place.  She finds a beautiful necklace in her great-grandfather's old study and from that moment on things will never be the same.

The art is without a doubt fantastic.  I was recommended this series by a friend who had mentioned that Kazu Kibuishi is doing the reprint covers for the Harry Potter series.  I've only seen the first one so far and I love it so it was pretty much guaranteed I would love these.

Miskit is my favorite.  How can you resist a pink bunny that talks?!!?  The story does move fast, I figure mostly because this is geared towards kids.  But it's interesting and page turning and full of mystery.

Friday, March 8, 2013

bunny drop, volumes 5-7

bunny drop, vol. 5
bunny drop, vol. 6
bunny drop, vol. 7
yumi unita
graphic novel/manga/drama
yen press
published 2012

Ten years have flown by since that fateful day when Daikichi first met Rin at his grandfather's funeral. While Daikichi may be still much the same-though perhaps a bit balder and a few pounds heavier-the wise-beyond-her-years Rin has blossomed into a smart, capable, and well-adjusted teenager. But as the trials and tribulations of high school and adolescence descend in full force upon the pair's cozy household, confusion plagues Rin as her relationship with her childhood friend Kouki begins to change into something different. Will Daikichi, who put his own love life on hold to take care of Rin, actually be able to provide her with the guidance she needs?!

I've got to say that when I started reading volume five I was incredibly disappointed that Rin was already in high school!  I didn't understand why we had to fast forward so far!  Now, after reading all up to volume seven I kind of get it.  There's a bit more to write about when it comes to teenagers.  Not to mention Rin-chan realizing she wants to know who her mother is!

The series shifts to focus more on Rin's relationship with Kouki than how Daikichi deals with being an instant parent.  Rin is the same as a teenager that she was as a little girl.  Serious, but cute and sweet.  Studious and worried about how raising her has effected Daikichi.

We also get a glimpse of what happened between Nitani-san and Daikichi, but again, everything has shifted to Rin's point of view so we don't get into much depth.

So yeah, I get why she skipped to a teenage Rin, but I really wish maybe it hadn't happened so fast.  Maybe we could have gone from elementary school to middle school and see Kouki in his rebellious stage as it was happening instead of in flashbacks. 

But I'm not going to complain.  I still love the series!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

majora's mask

majora's mask
legend of zelda series #3
akira himekawa
graphic novels/manga/adventure/ya
viz media
published 2009

After Link seals Ganondorf in the Sacred Realm, peace returns to Hyrule.  But soon Link's old friend Navi goes missing.  While wandering through the forest in search of Navi, he meets Skull Kid.  The mischievous Skull Kid steals the Ocarina of Time from Link and turns Link into a Deku Scrub!  Setting things straight this time will take Link on an amazing journey to a parallel world where he meets new friends and new enemies!

I'm not entirely sure that I played Majora's Mask through to completion.  Some things seemed familiar to me and some didn't.  Nonetheless, another great little installment to the series!

We don't know what's happened to Navi, but Link meets two new fairies and a few other characters as well.  I've said it before, I think, but I love seeing Link's personality.  In the games you just don't get much more than a stoic sort of character, but here you get funny, brave, sweet, sad & everything in between.

ocarina of time, volumes 1 & 2

ocarina of time, vol. 1
ocarina of time, vol. 2
akira himekawa
graphic novel/manga/adventure
viz media
published 2008

Part 1
In the mystical land of Hyrule, three spiritual stones hold the key to the Triforce, and whoever holds them will control the world!  A boy named Link sets out on a quest to deliver the Emerald, the spiritual stone of the forest, to Zelda, Princess of the land of Hyrule.  The journey will be long and perilous, and Link will need all his skill and courage to defeat evil.  The battle for Hyrule and the Sacred Realm has begun!

Part 2
After completing his raining Link begins his journey to find the remaining Sages.  Meanwhile, Ganondorf continues looking for Princess Zelda and plotting to capture Link with the aid of the witches known as Twinrova.  At the urging of the mysterious Sheik, Link enters the Haunted Wasteland to find Zelda.  The journey will be dangerous, but Link is determined to overcome Twinrova's traps and survive to face Ganondorf in an epic final battle!

Again, these books are so much fun!!

Even having played the game there's still so much to read here.  There's little bits of the story that either I wasn't paying attention to when I was playing Ocarina of Time or they didn't include those in the game.  Either way I feel like if you really love the games these books can only add to it!

oracle of seasons

oracle of seasons
legend of zelda series #4
akira himekawa
graphic novel/manga/adventure
viz media
published 2009

In a small village in Hyrule, a boy named Link has the mark of the Triforce on his left hand.  It is a mark of destiny that leads Link on a fantastic adventure!  Transported to the land of Holodrum, Link meets Din, the Oracle of Seasons. When a plot to steal the seasons from Holodrum unfolds, Link must battle the evil General Onox to save Holodrum and his friends from a terrible fate!

This was very fun!  Especially for someone like me who loves the Zelda games.  It's especially fun that Link has his personality here, since you don't really get to see that at all in the games.

The perfect combination of the video game stories and manga!

nodame cantabile 2-10

tomoko ninomiya
graphic novel/ya/manga/comedy/romance
del rey manga
published 2005

It took me quite some time to really get into this series.  Books 2-4 were okay.  They kept me entertained and curious enough to keep going, but I don't think it was really until book 5 that I really got invested in the series and Nodame and Shinichi.

I'm not a fan of classical music so some of the lingo and storylines went over my head, but I got the gist of most stuff.  Shinichi finds himself stuck with Nodame no matter how mean he is to her.  He tries to make her aware that he wants nothing to do with her, but when something goes wrong he is always there.  When she leaves their apartment complex mysteriously for a long period of time he must know what happened and if she's okay.  And Nodame loves him despite everything.  Even though she's a little nutty and extremely childlike she does her best to take care of him, ultimately giving him the greatest gift she could give him and he doesn't even know it.

Unfortunately, the library only has the first 10 books so I'm on the hunt for books 11-16 which is proving to be harder than I thought.  I did also find that Crackle has the anime series available to watch!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

my neighbor totoro

my neighbor totoro, vol. 1
my neighbor totoro, vol. 2
my neighbor totoro, vol. 3
my neighbor totoro, vol. 4
hayao miyazuki
graphic novels/fantasy
viz media llc
published 2004

Two young girls, Satsuke and her younger sister Mei, move into a house in the country with their father to be closer to their hospitalized mother. Satsuke and Mei discover that the nearby forest is inhabited by magical creatures called Totoros. They soon befriend these Totoros, and have several magical adventures.

This was one series of books that I really didn't want to end.  The art is so whimsical and fun and Mei & Satsuki are brave and sweet!  The Totoros are incredibly cute, Cat Bus is both endearingly adorable and kind of creepy.  But everything was so perfect.

I ached for their mother and for the girls without her with them.  Granny was the perfect surrogate.  I wanted to go visit the village and see the giant camphor tree.  The sisters' love for each other and their parents made me smile throughout the whole four books.

I just enjoyed every single bit of these books!

Disqus for know-it-not-so-much