Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Final Life

April - Books with RED covers.

At the 2015 Texas Teen Book Festival my mom met a local author, Rose Garcia. They talked, my mom thought her book idea sounded cool, she bought the book. She just passed it on to me to read. And while I was interested in the idea behind the Transhuman Chronicles, I feel that the book has left me with less than stellar feelings.

To start with, I don't feel as if Garcia sat down and worked through all the details of the story. There are points during which she contradicts herself, going back and correcting what the main character had been told. She passes these off as 'well, we kept this little bit from you' or 'it's just a theory but it could work even though I just said yesterday that it wouldn't' and maybe it works for her, but I was left feeling a little shafted.

There were also too many moments of recap. I know what all has been happening in the story so far, because like the main character I have been there for it all. Why she feels the need to recount events that happened yesterday (repeatedly through the book) I don't understand, and I certainly didn't need it as a reader.

This being said I did find the book interesting enough to sit down and read it in one day, so there's that. Like I said, it is an interesting idea, nine lives in which you can figure out your purpose and this one girl who is on her last life and the fate of the world rests on her surviving to the next day. Throw in the fact that her parents are sort of superhumans with special powers that totally skipped her in the worst hand dealt ever, a dramatic move to not only a new town and state but who different climate during the main character's senior year of high school, and a love triangle that just breaks your heart for one guy but you also can't help but hope for the other, and you have yourself an entertaining read at the very least. So who knows, maybe this will become your new favorite book or author if you give it a chance. I'm only telling you my problems with the story so you are forewarned about it's shortcomings. None of the issues I had with the writing kept me from finishing the book, and I think that's what counts. Plus, it never hurts to support a new author.

I do think I will pick up the other books in the series at some point in the future. I do want to know where things go from here for the main characters after all. I just don't see it happening right away. If you do read the book, let me know what you think! I would love to hear a second opinion!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Scream Street : Blood Of The Witch

The second book in the Scream Street series, this book continues the story of young Luke's adventure to find the relics of the town's founding fathers so he can open a portal back to the real world so his parents can get out of the crazy town! Accompanied by his two friends, Resus and Cleo, he is on the hunt for the second relic. But it's not just the supernatural scavenger hunt they have to face as the conniving Sir Otto Sneer has created yet another problem for the residents of Scream Street to try and get his hands on the book helping Luke.

This book was a bit sillier than the first since Sir Otto's plan causes first the creation of vampire rats which only spreads to the occupants of the small town. But hey, what do you expect when reading a kid's book about monsters if not a little silliness to help keep the audience entertained. It was still full of funny moments, actions scenes, and even a light-hearted drama as Luke's parents try to fit in.

Again this was a cute book in the series, and I like where things are going for the character's and story. I enjoyed it and can't wait for my son to bring home the next one for me to read! I will let you know what he thinks about it as soon as he gets the chance to read it, too!

Scream Street : Fang Of The Vampire

Jareth found this book at the school library and brought it home to read. Of course I saw it and thought, "well that looks interesting" and knew I had to read it. The reading level listed on the inside is 4.8, so of course it was a fairly easy read for me, which is good because I am pretty sure it is overdue.

It turned out to be a cute little story following three kids as they start a scavenger hunt for objects to help them get out of the town in which they live because one of them is worried for his parents. Oh, the kids just happen to be a warewolf, vampire, and mummy and they are getting the clues for the relics needed from a talking book!

As the first book in the series it followed their journey to finding the book and the first object needed. It is a delightful twist on the monster story with this young man worried for his parents who happen to be completely normal. The book is complete with daring moments, witty speech, and a few shenanigans. What do you expect when one of the characters is a zombie of what I am sure was once a hippie stoner!

Jareth didn't get the chance to read the book since they were accidentally hidden in my room among other books, but he is going to be checking them out once more from the library so that he can give them a chance as well. I'll add his opinion to this post when he does. In the meantime I have to say I enjoyed it and am quickly picking up the next book! I think it's a great pick for any young readers looking for something different in their main characters!

The Carpet People

April - Books with RED covers.

This was actually the only book I had to fill this month's theme and now I am really glad it was. I love Terry Pratchett, his Discworld novels were this perfect fantasy counterpart to Douglas Adams, whom I had discovered at a young age. But while I love getting my hands on his books, I had only intended to hand this one to my kids for them to read when they were ready. After all, this book started out as a series of serials in a newspaper's Children's Circle column. Terry was then inspired to write a book based off the little civilization he had dreamed up in the world of a Carpet, and this is the product.

The Carpet People is exactly what it sounds like. It is a story that follows mainly a man named Snibril as his people leave their home for somewhere better once the destructive, and highly mysterious, Fray destroys everything. What follows is a tale of chaos, adventure, creatures, curiosity, battle, and heroics. Snibril is just one among a cast of highly entertaining people, among which are his brother Glurk, an ex-soldier Bane, a philosopher Pismire, and a King Brocando. The reader joins them as they cross the Carpet trying to find a safe place or the center of their troubles, depending on how you look at it.

This story was meant for young adults, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were great. The story complex. And the storytelling very entertaining! If you like Pratchett you have to give this one a try, especially if you have the chance to read it to your child. As the back blurb says, it is "An epic saga of miniature proportions."

Friday, April 8, 2016

Cemetery Tours

So I picked this book up at the library simply because it had a sticker on the side that said "local author." Well of course I was going to pick it up to help support someone nearby! Now I can't wait to be able to buy a copy of this book and her other ones to add to my bookshelf to really support her, because I really enjoyed this one! Meet Jacqueline E. Smith!

The story follows 2 main people: Michael, who incidentally can see dead people, and his new neighbor Kate, who moves into the cursed apartment next door and brings along one mean looking ghost. So, I know it sounds kinda cliche, of course he can see dead people so of course she has to be haunted. But the story is more than that. For one, Michael does nothing about the fact that he sees the dead. To the point that he goes out of his way to ignore and act normal when in the presence of ghosts so that they won't follow him home expecting things from him. Of course this doesn't always work because sometimes they do follow him home and now everyone in his apartment building believes it is cursed and the landlord can never keep tenants in the one right next to Michael. So for a brief afternoon as Michael helps the pretty new girl and her brother move in, he is all smiles because, well, he can't help himself around pretty new girl. Until he sees the very angry, very scary looking ghost glaring down Kate's brother Gavin, and so he turns tail and runs back to his own apartment.

But Michael can't stay away from Kate, he is drawn to her, for reasons outside the usual she is pretty and new and single, but you don't get to know about those 'till much later. He finds himself drawn into multiple ghost-related scenarios that he has been trying to avoid his whole life, and tries his best to help to not only impress the pretty neighbor girl, but also because he has realized that up until this point he has been a little selfish by not helping. Things, of course, get out of hand and twisted around because nothing is ever simple or straight forward. There are a couple of heartbreaking moments where you just want to hug some characters but you can't, because they are fictional, and ghosts mostly. And there is plenty of humor to have you laughing.

I thought this book was a breath of fresh air. The characters are people I know. Michael is selfish, just wants to be normal. Kate is fanatical about a TV show about ghost hunters and so fangirls when she meets the lead actor. Gavin is the protective big brother who ignores his own failing health because he can't stress his sister out. They are normal people who make you laugh, drive you crazy, make you roll your eyes, and draw you to them all at once. The book being based in Texas really helps for me, too. I love it that no one bats an eye at it taking them an hour and half to drive somewhere and it getting far too late in the evening in the process, because that's just what happens when you live in this big state. And of course the parents of these almost thirty year olds are so involved in their children's lives, making decisions for them, giving advise, still trying to parent even though their kids are grown, because that is just how we are in the South. I loved being able to relate to these characters!

The only drawback I feel the need to point out is that it take a little while for the plot to thicken. We find out plenty about the characters, what has happened to them, that they like one another, and it seems like most of the book goes by before any conflict arises aside from the "boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy is too shy to ask girl out" bit. But it's necessary I think, after reading it. After all, the author is introducing you to this guy that she wants to follow for a few books. You need to have some background, some setting. Instead of cramming story, big events, the main plot into one book, this is the beginning. I think in book two will be more of the main climax of Michael's story, if the ending to this one is any indication. And there is still more than enough drama in this one to keep a reader satisfied with having read it and looking for more. Just, if you find it starting off a little slow, know that I did too, but if you keep going, I think it will really be worth the wait!

So pick this book up! Discover someone new with a lot of potential. And let me know what you think! Because I am headed to the library for the next one!