Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Stories for the Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory

Overall Impression 1/2

In A Word: Random

Source: Netgalley, Publisher

Publication Date: July 2011

Short Synopsis (Goodreads)Loory's collection of wry and witty, dark and perilous contemporary fables is populated by people–and monsters and trees and jocular octopi–who are united by twin motivations: fear and desire. In his singular universe, televisions talk (and sometimes sing), animals live in small apartments where their nephews visit from the sea, and men and women and boys and girls fall down wells and fly through space and find love on Ferris wheels. In a voice full of fable, myth, and dream, Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day draws us into a world of delightfully wicked recognitions, and introduces us to a writer of uncommon talent and imagination. 

My Review: What first drew me to this book was the cover. I love the crisp lines, the octopus tentacle and the UFO along with the title on hanging cards. The title itself says that 'this is going to be something creative.' And it was creative....just in a very, very random way.

I should probably temper this review with the fact that I do not read short stories. I like my books to be in the hundreds of pages with deep character development, romantic tension, and complexity. It's hard to do that in a short story so I don't bother. 

That being said, reading this collection actually made me reconsider short stories. Some of them were pretty good. Some of them were cute. All of them were random. I can't say it enough. It was as if the author thought 'hmmm, what will they not be expecting' and wrote down exactly that. In one or two cases, this works, in most, I was expecting the unexpected and so when it came it was only ho hum. That's why  I'm rating it only 2 1/2 stars.

 Yes, it takes creativity to be as random as some of these stories were, but making the random work is altogether something else entirely.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Review: Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac

Overall Impression:

Source: Publisher, Netgalley

Publication Date: Sept 2011

Short Synopsis (Goodreads): Luke King knows a lot of things. Like four different ways to disarm an enemy before the attacker can take a breath. Like every detail of every book he’s ever read. And Luke knows enough—just enough—about what his father does as a black ops infiltrator to know which questions not to ask. Like why does his family move around so much? 

Luke just hopes that this time his family is settled for a while. He’ll finally be able to have a normal life. He’ll be able to ask the girl he likes to take a ride with him on his motorcycle. He’ll hang out with his friends. He’ll be invisible—just as he wants. 

But when his dad goes missing, Luke realizes that life will always be different for him. Suddenly he must avoid the kidnappers looking to use him as leverage against his father, while at the same time evading the attention of the school’s mysterious elite clique of Russian hipsters, who seem much too interested in Luke’s own personal secret. Faced with multiple challenges and his emerging paranormal identity, Luke must decide who to trust as he creates his own destiny.

My Review: It's hard to say what caught my attention first about this book. I love wolves, werewolves in particular; the premise sounded engaging; the cover simple but catching (though yellow and red aren't my favorite colors together, this seems to work).

Once I started the book I found it interesting, particularly in that we are inside the head of Luke and he is quite a knowledgeable kid. All his little tidbits and asides were one part fascinating (I'll admit it, I took some notes as there are some real facts involved), one part conceited and one part distracting. While I liked how into detail things got....this also kind of made the book heavy to read even though it wasn't particularly deep. It took me a while to get through it...but I did get through it and ultimately liked it, which matters more I think, in the long run. 

The most original part of the book, and what I found the most interesting, was that these werewolves aren't like your normal werewolves that have the wolf inside them, no, these werewolves are more like selkies than anything else. The skin is separate from them and they have to protect it. I thought that this was clever and this is the first time I've come across something like this.

Other than that though, not too much else was original, but it was bearable. The other characters tried to become three dimensional, but it felt forced. Luke is too dominate a narrator so we only really get to know him and everyone else is how he sees them. Nothing wrong with this, it just wasn't as fleshed out as it could have been.

Overall, an interesting read, different from your regular paranormal teenage werewolves. Also, I learned some Russian. That's always cool. (by the way, 'cool' in Russian is 'klassni'....just in case you wanted to impress someone).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4) by Brandon Sanderson

Overall Impression:

Source: Bought

Publication Date: TODAY (Nov. 8th, 2011)

Short Synopsis (Goodreads): Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice. 

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn, who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.  After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

My Review: To start, I hadn't even expected this book. Once the Mistborn trilogy ended (and boy...was I frustrated with that ending!!) I thought that it was el fin. But Brandon Sanderson proves his worth again and come up with another great book!

I actually think that I like allomancy more in a old west setting than in a fantasy world. It's been a few years since I read the original Mistborns, so not all of the reverences were caught by me, but it was still enjoyable and really, there are some great characters here! Wax is pretty charming but Wayne just makes me laugh! 

I was, again, frustrated with the book not going where I wanted it to. Oh sure, most of it gets resolved, but I realized that I was on the last page and didn't understand how it was going to wrap up completely...when it hit me that it won't! This is good, as I love to have long books and Brandon Sanderson does these so well (though this one, comparatively to his other works, really isn't that long. I bought it this afternoon and finished it before bed), but I DON'T WANT TO WAIT! It was hard enough holding my breath for this one and now I'll have to do it again!!! Gah, such is the life of the bookishly obsessed. I know at least, though, I am not alone!

In short, loved the world, loved the characters, loved the plot, love that there will eventually be more in store....but not loving the waiting. Oh well.


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