Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Scorpio Races

A book that your mom loves.

My mother handed this book to me a year ago, as we were getting ready to go to my first Texas Teen Book Festival. In fact, she pushed it into my hands with a delighted smile and insisted I read it. But while we read a lot of the same books, I was a little hesitant to pick it up anyway. I can't say why other than she didn't give me much of a feel for the book, I didn't know what I was going to be stepping into. But she loved it, my sister loved it, I would give it a shot. A year later. After a lot of bugging. It was worth it.

Oh wow should I have read it sooner. I have yet to read any of Stiefvater's books, taking my time to pick up her Shiver trilogy until I can get all three books and not have to wait in between, so this was my introduction to the writer, and what a meeting it was. Maggie takes a myth that has fascinated her for most of her life and pieces bits of it together from different legends, and makes it her own. And she does so beautifully. Being both a horse lover and a lover of myth, there was no other path but love for me to take, and Maggie's amazing writing style simply helped make the trip easier.

The capaill uisce (Irish pronunciation CAPple ISHka) are a race of water horses that wash up on the beaches of this small island. They have done it for hundreds of years, having formed some sort of bond with the men of the island who sacrifice a bit of blood for the honor of riding these fierce creatures. Only, sometimes the bit of blood isn't enough. The Scorpio Races, which are run every November, are bloody, chaotic events in which the men ride their barely held mounts a little too close to the water to tap into the magic of the creatures for speed. Sean Kendrick was nine years old when he watched one of the horses nearly tear his father in half during the race, but that didn't stop him from racing when he got older, and now he is the four time winning champion of the races. But he wants to own the horse he races for the man that owns half the island, no longer in fear the beautiful animal he has formed a bond with will be torn from him. Enter Puck Connelly, a girl who is used to fading into the background and likes her privacy there. Her older brother is leaving for the mainland, leaving her and her younger brother behind, and in a last ditch effort to keep him close a little longer, she proclaims she will ride in the races as well, the first girl to do so ever. Only she doesn't like the beasts that tore her parents from her the year before, refuses to ride one, and instead thinks riding her regular horse in the races will be a good idea. What unfolds is an incredible story about what the races are really about, what people need when they think they need nothing, and how much  can truly change in a matter of week, even on a tiny island.

So apparently, since I have spoken out about first person a little too many times, the universe has decided I will be given many example of why this particular point of view is in fact awesome and beautiful, and here are some authors that know what they are doing! The Scorpio Races alternates between Sean and Puck, each telling their stories from their view points and giving you insight into two very different, but kinda similar people. You know what the best thing was? They didn't overlap. I hate it when the author feels you need the same scene from both characters point of view, it is redundant and boring. Stiefvater has no qualms moving on, not letting you see that one scene from Sean's point of view so you know what was going through his head, because hey, she already told you what happened. I love it!

SHe also does a great job of introducing just enough myth into the real world that you can believe that somewhere out there is an island where water horses come onto land in storms to eat flesh before melding back into the sea. In fact, it is kind of a perfect book for someone that loves horses to dip their tow in the water of fantasy. I myself used Peter S. Beagle's short stories to introduce me to the world of fantasy and have never looked back, but boy am I wishing Maggie had written a couple decades earlier so that I could have been introduced to her wonderful imagination sooner!

Definitely give the book a try. Give Stiefvater a try. Let me know what you think of it! Do you love it as much as I did? Do you love it as much as my MOM did? Let us know!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The 100

A book based on or turned into a TV show.

I will admit, when I saw this book laying on the table at the 2014 Texas Teen Book Festival I picked it up simply because we had watched the show and enjoyed it. I wanted to read more behind the characters, maybe read more of the story before the show covered it, and compare them. I also got to meet Kass Morgan and talk to her for a little while as I waited for my sister to get another author's autograph. She was thrilled to find out that each week my husband, son, and I would sit down and watch the show with excitement. She asked me about my opinion of the character and story and I told her I loved both. She personalized my book with a little note to my family - To the Bowles, Happy Reading! (and watching =) ).

I am so wishing I had read the book before meeting her! I want to tell her how much more I loved the story she had laid out, the background of the characters being a bit more heartbreaking than the show gave them. There is more romance in the book, since nearly everyone is part of a couple, but that gives more room for heartbreak! And I love Bellamy more in the book, and from the beginning. I was also a just as annoyed by Clarke's indecision in the book, but hey, there is room for her to grow.

The book has more drama, especially since the story line only follows the main characters. With Clarke, Wells, and Bellamy all on Earth you only know what they know. You only have their little bits of back story to tell you about the world on the ship. The only character in space is Glass and since she is not yet an adult, she doesn't have the inside story on anything. You only know what she sees as she tries to stay out of the way until her pardon can be formalized. There is so much of what is going on that is a mystery to the reader. And I love it! It puts you on the edge of your seat and keeps you guessing on what is going to happen, who is going to survive, how will things work out.

If you liked the show, definitely give the book a try. I don't think too much will be spoiled since usually there is a divergence between the two mediums. If you haven't seen the show but enjoy post-apocalyptic survival stories, really give it a try. This story promises to have twists and mayhem aplenty! Let me know what you think!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

A book that was made into a movie.

This book was given to me last year for All Hallow's Read by my mother. As I had already read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies she thought that I would enjoy this one as well from the same author. I have to say, it was an interesting read. But in all honesty not really my cup of tea.

Presented as a biography by a man (Seth Grahame-Smith) after he was given the real, secret, journals of Abraham Lincoln by a mysterious man named Henry along with a bundle of letters, all speaking of the untold half of history surrounding this former President. Smith proposes that the truth of Abraham's life was surrounded by vampires from the time he saw his father consorting with one which lead to his mother's death through his years of hunting the creatures until he led the Union to defying them as the vampires fought to keep slavery going as their meal ticket. I'll not give you much more, but I will say that vampires are thick in every aspect of Lincoln's life.

While I find Lincoln an incredible man in history, rereading his story in this new way was a tad on the boring side. But mainly that is because the author so seamlessly (in nearly every event) inserts the creatures into Lincoln's life. In almost every event of the man's life I could easily believe vampires were involved, with the exception of only a few events where I was rolling my eyes because, come on, of course we are going to say that was a vampire thing. So I must say the book is well written, I'll give it that. And I was able to breeze through it as an entertaining read. I just don't think I would ever pick it up to read it again. Maybe I wouldn't be too quick to recommend it to others.

But, hey, that's just my opinion. Give it a read if it's up your alley. Tell me what you think about it!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The 5th Wave

A book with a number in the title.

I picked this book up at the 2014 Texas Teen Book Festival, and it's a signed copy at that! I am sure the only thing that kept me from reading it right away, since it sounded like an awesome read. I could hit myself for not picking it up sooner!

The Earth is invaded by aliens! But no one sees a single one. From the moment the mothership appears in orbit above the Earth, humans are left in waiting for what the visitors will do. With each new wave of the aliens' attack humans are shocked, unprepared for the way their enemy chooses to strike, and the numbers of the dead increase with astonishing speed.
Cassie, the first narrator of the story, is left in fear that she may be the last person on the planet, but still determined to keep the promise she made to her younger brother that she would find him.
Zombie, his nickname and you're not getting his real name or it would ruin the surprise, is another narrator telling the story of a teenager near death turned into a soldier.
Others are followed through third person story telling alternating with these two first person view points; others like Sammy, Cassie's brother, and a Silencer sent to kill her. But don't worry, Yancy does an incredible job of weaving the voices together in a way that just works.

This books is just awesome. Yancy is a great writer, able to tell a story from a teenage girl's point of view in a way I am a little envious of. Then he manages to make you laugh at the most random moments, and isn't that how the end of the world needs to be, laughing in the face of hopelessness? He, also manages to take a theme that may seem over-worked, Cassie has a ton of references to alien invasions to think about on her journey, and puts a spin on it that is still fairly new! The humans were not expecting what happened! And they are in no way prepared for the 5th wave!

I recommend everyone give this book a chance! I am recommending it to my mom, husband, and son as soon as I get done with this post! And the minute I can get my hands on the second book, The Infinite Sea, you can bet I will be quick with a new post! All the praise possible to Rick Yancy for this amazing story!


We took our son to see the movie, as an Us and J day. Both my husband and I had read it, but I think it is just a little too advanced for our nine year old son, but we thought the movie would really interest him. Well, he loved it. He is so ready for the next one to come out and was asking about the book, which now sits on his shelf for when he is ready to tackle it. What did we think?

It was amazing! There were very few differences between the book and movie, little things that you notice but mostly can live without. Although, I have to say that for the next half hour all my husband could talk about was how upset he was that they hadn't included the bomb they used. My one flaw had to do with Evan Walker, something I won't relate to you, but it made me a little sad that they changed it, even though I could completely understand why. And the casting! Oh the cast was just about perfect for each character, especially Vosch!

All in all it was a great movie made after a great book! Take the time to enjoy both!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Five: Out Of The Dark

A book with magic.

This was one of the books I picked up at the 2014 Texas Teen Book Festival, and immediately from the description on the back of the book I thought it sounded like a cross between Supernatural and maybe Teen Wolf (keep in mind I have never seen Teen Wolf). Yeah, it was kinda like that.

The book is narrated by Paige, a sixteen year old runaway who left home when her parents discovered her magical abilities and tried to send her off to some treatment facility to get rid of the evil spirits obviously possessing her. Paige feels a strange pull to Seattle where she finds Jonathan hiding out in the Underground, she is overjoyed the cute boy has abilities, too. They are soon joined by Alec, Halli, and Seth, making them a ragtag, magical Scooby gang, except none of them can go near a computer due to their magic.  When Jonathan is turned into a warewolf and Seth finds a case at a local high school, the gang is thrown maybe a little more than they can handle. Paige tells the story of how they worked to protect others while she tried to figure out how to protect themselves.

I will say the story is rather interesting. It has a fairly interesting plot with quiet a few wrenches thrown into their gears that promises a lot more to come in the future for this brave lot. However, the execution isn't the best.

Maybe it's because it is written in first person, know that I am not a fan, but the style of the book kept bothering me. Not only is Paige a teenager, like most kids she is incredibly self-centered, and it's not until near the end that she finally starts to consider what it must be like for Jonathan to be a monster rather than how it all affected her. Even then it was only for a brief moment before the pity party settled back around her and she seemed to be looking for a cure for nearly selfish reasons! I am not Paige's biggest fan.
Writing in first person became a problem also because of the writer. Anderson randomly threw big words into the mix that really pulled me out of the zone. Sure I used a ton of big words as a teen, I knew kids that loved to impress others with big words. I get that it is possible. However, here it felt more like Anderson got tired of using the word "said" too often, picked up a thesaurus, and picked a word at random to put in the space left. It caused hitches in my reading.

I just couldn't help but think through most of reading this book that it would be better suited for my 9 year old son. I believe the main reason Anderson felt it was better suited for young adults was because the characters where in their teens and once Jonathan is turned into a warewolf they use the word lust a few times. So I am going to hand this book to my son, see if he wants to read it in a year or two, and leave it at that. Normally with young adult, even teen marketed books, I am able to recommend it to readers of nearly all ages, that is not the case here. This one I recommend for the younger crowd, strictly teens. But give it a chance if you are in that group, it is an interesting story line that promises more to come.