Thursday, December 30, 2010

Los Hijos de Anasi - Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman un autor fasinante! Cual quier lector sabe esto cuando empieza un libro es dificil de parar de leer.
En este libro en particular Los Hijos de Anansi contiene personajes tradicionales, leyendas africanas que se mezclan con los personajes que de algun modo cambian sus vidas y destinos.
Charles Nancy es el protagonista de este libro, Estadudidense pero plantado en Inglaterra, en el mundo de las fianzas. La tragedia del fallecimiento de su padre a echo cambios repentinos en su vida de Gordo Charlie como se le conose, a raiz de esta tragedia se da cuenta sobre un hermano cual no tenia ningun conosimiento. Este hermano tiene tenencia de aparecerce de forma extra├▒a y repentina, esto causa grandes problemas en la vida de Gordo Charlie en todos los aspectos, en su trabajo, su vida personal con su novia, asta en el mismo.
Los metodos de Gaiman son muy tipicos tal como en sus anteriores novelas, que se encuentra magia pero de poco a poco de esfuma. Sin embargo, Gaiman tiene el valor de llevar sus novelas a otras dimesiones que demuestran su capasidad y atraen al lector.
Se los recomiendo, esta historia esta llena misterio no podras parar de leer!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

This novel is a prequel to the highly successful show, Sex and the City. I've seen a few episodes of the show and both of the movies, so I have somewhat of a feel for what the show is like and the main character, Carrie Bradshaw. However, I have never read the novel by the same author which started the show. Is it right, then, to compare this novel to the show and not the original book because while I don't feel like it succeeded in connecting with the show, what's to say it doesn't connect with the book?

Carrie Bradshaw is a senior in high school trying to navigate her way through boys, friends, bullies, and her desire to be a writer. When she lands Sebastain Kydd as a boyfriend, she figures things are looking up, until she has to deal with Donna LaDonna who doesn't exactly like the fact that Carrie "stole" her boyfriend. Donna's now out to make Carrie's life miserable. Things, though, aren't perfect with her relationship and soon she begins to question her best friend's constant involvement with her boyfriend, which ultimately leads to betrayal and the sad end of a relationship and friendship. In light of the betrayal, Carrie finally starts to find the voice she needs to be a successful writer and is on her way to becoming the Carrie Bradshaw we all know. In the meantime she has to deal with a rebellious sister, another friend's romance troubles, the fact that all of friends seem to be having sex except her, and other woes that affect seniors in high school trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives.

I don't know what to say about this book because I feel like I'm judging it based on the TV show and not as a book. However, the book promotes itself as "Carrie before Sex and the City" so how can you avoid the comparison? You don't see TV Carrie until the final few chapters. I understand how the first 3/4ths of the book are shaping her into this character, but it took sooo long for her to emerge that it was hard to maintain my interest. Also, one of the great things about the TV show are the supporting characters. While Carrie might be the main star, her friends are so distinct and special that the show is equally about them. The supporting characters in this novel fell flat. You could never mistake Charlotte for Samantha on the show but in this book, nobody had a distinct voice or personality although they all had the potential. Her friend Mouse could have been taken out completely and Walt faded in and out of the novel while his story was interesting. Only Maggie and Lali had any substance but they still could have been anybody for most of the book. While the novel isn't about them, that doesn't mean they need to be cardboard cutouts for Carrie to interact with. At the same time, the setting of this novel could have been anywhere, anytime. This novel took place in 1980 but nothing in the novel, aside from the casual manner every treated drinking and smoking, told me it wasn't a different time from today. I'm not expecting news reports and the time period shoved down my throat, but if it's going to be in a different decade, make it a little more obvious. In the show Carrie was all about fashion and sometimes wacky fashion. Where are the leggings, jumpsuits, shoulder pads, teased hair, anything to tell me this novel isn't taking place yesterday? Sure she had a thing with a purse, a mink shawl and a hat, but three fashion things the whole book aren't enough to develop Carrie's obsession with fashion or set the time period.

The novel in and of itself wasn't horrible. It is a good story that clearly shows the path Carrie took to become editorial writer and everything that affected her. That all works for the novel. However, I don't think that readers are going to be able to separate it from the show they all know and so I don't think the novel lives up to it's potential.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Payback Time by Deuker

How Far should a journalist go to get a good news story, a scoop? Are there secrets meant to be kept? Mitch grew out when the rest of his friends grew tall in middle school and found himself being made fun of and looking for a new place to belong. This place is the school newspaper where he is the top writer and now a senior in high school. He has been assigned to cover sports, most important to the students but not to him. His photographer is Kimi Yon, a well liked student. At the first interview, photo shoot at practice before the first football game Kimi points out a new kid who is off by himself and when no one is actively watching him shows huge talent. She recognizes a hot story in this mystery kid and shares her ideas with Mitch. Not only is Mitch intrigued by the mystery and possible scoop which would look ever so good on a college essay, he is enchanted by Kimi's respect towards him. So, he begins investigating who this kid is where he came from, if he really is eligible to play football and begins an exercise program, in hopes of starting a relationship with Kimi. The investigation puts Mitch in harms way more than once and he is repeatedly warned to back off, stop what he is doing, its none of his business. Finally,
He has also put the mystery kid in danger from gangs and risked the high school's chances of a state title. And the story could never be published. Because there is a lot of reporting on the football games and even some on the school's badly divided girl's volleyball team this is a sports story first that will be enjoyed most by sports fans then a mystery. Deuker's books are always good exciting reads. jdw12/10

Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

I didn't finish this book. I did not like it. Smith wrote Ghost Medicine which I liked very much. I wrote about it in this blog. Marbury Lens starts out with a brutal kidnapping and plausible escape and death of the kidnapper. Jack repeats many times that all that happens to him after is because the kidnapper messed up his brain. He repeats he should get help. But, he just keeps saying this and just keeps doing not very smart things. He is on vacation in London when a stranger begins talking with him as if they've known each other for some time. Then leaves a weird pair of lenses behind and vanishes. Jack tries them on and is transported to a different time and place. It is a inhospitable world with famine, lack of water, violence. Sometimes he is away from our world for only a minute, sometimes a whole day passes. He could dump the lenses after his first terrifying experience. He does not. He keeps using them, keeps saying the kidnapper messed up his brain. He begins to keep himself oriented in time by putting sticky notes all over his mirror and keeps right on going. And, I stopped reading. It was too repetitive, and did not make good sense to me. Maybe someone out there can explain the compulsion to subject himself to the terrifying experiences behind the Marbury Lens, not me.
JDW 12/27/10

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Undiscovered Cpuntry by Lin Enger

This is an adult book with teen appeal. A Young Man, Jesse, is writing a memoir of all that happened one horrible year when he was in high school some 10 years ago and sharing it with a younger brother who was too young to remember that time. The time when their father apparently shot himself while out hunting with Jesse and Jesse found the disfigured body and his life changed forever. That was the medical examiner's call. But. his father appears to Jesse with a different story of what happened. The story involves his uncle Clay who once dated his mother and once shot a cat with a shot gun, not unlike that which killed Jesse's father, Clay's brother. Though no one believes him, except maybe one slow witted young man, Jesse pursues his beliefs all the way to their anticipated conclusion. All the while, I hoped it would not end that way. And an abused young woman, perhaps Jesse's first love tries to talk him out of his trajectory even as she deals with nasty abuse by her father. The impact a parent's death from apparent suicide can have on a child is profoundly presented. And, suicide is a very current hot topic.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hellsing by Kohta Hirano

For those who love vampires stories here's a good one. This manga doesn't not only contain good art but also a good story line.

Alucard, also known as Dracula, is a vampire that serves the head of an organization known as Hellsing. Of which operates under cover exterminating rouge vampires and out of control werewolves. Through many events of which had been control by a German Major of who's only wish is to die, but to have fun with it and be the worth. By recruiting many of who shared the same interest, he has cause what by many can be called an Apocalypse Alucard has to not only exterminate those who are causing death and destruction but too to find out that it all was a plot to kill him. Along with his Master Integra and his servant Seras, they manage to stop the slaughter but at the cost of his own existence.

Heist Society by Ally Carter

This novel was definitely enjoyable, although I found I had to suspend realism in some places and not due to supernatural occurrences but just for the fact that teenagers were accomplishing these tasks. That said, this novel about thieves felt like a teen version of Mission Impossible for females.

Katarina (Kat) comes from a family of thieves, especially art thieves, but doesn't want to live that life. She manages to get into a posh boarding school until she's set up for a crime she didn't commit and is subsequently expelled. It turns out that a friend committed the crime because Kat is needed to help her father who is accused by a powerful man (Arturo Taccone) of stealing his priceless art. If her father doesn't return the art, he will be killed. Kat knows her father didn't do it and soon figures out where to find the art. With only two weeks to retrieve it, Kat calls in help from family and friends, all of whom are teens since the adults think it's too dangerous and want the kids to back off. Together, though, the teens set out to rob a heavily protected art gallery - a feat committed by only one other person - the mysterious Visily Romani who stole the pictures from Taccone. In the midst of the thievery, Kat also deals with typical teen issues - jealousy over her beautiful cousin and a love triangle between herself, her best friend Hale, and Nick, the new guy.

This was a good novel. It was interesting and thrilling, especially if you like spy stories. I like how this brought the James Bond feel to a female audience. It has the action that might intrigue boys, but I think they'll be annoyed with the relationship side of the book and possibly a female protagonist. It's great, though, to show that spies aren't just guys. However, at times it was hard to wrap my mind around this being 16 year olds committing these acts. Even when they weren't stealing anything, they were traveling around the world unchaperoned and passing themselves off in so many different situations that I had trouble seeing teens being successful. True that's the life they were brought up in and it is fiction, so I guess I just need to be a little more accepting. One thing I found interesting about this novel was the back story about the painting and how during the Holocaust, Nazis used to steal priceless pieces of art from people. Even though the art in the story was fictional, the history was true and it was a nice touch to the novel.

I enjoyed this book. The characters were all enjoyable and the life they led was definitely captivating. True some of the acts were a bit hard to swallow, but it's fiction and that makes it fun. I look forward to the sequel coming out in June to see what else the characters can do.

Monday, December 13, 2010

When the Wind Blows by James Patterson

This book, although intended for adult audiences with adult themes, was added to the young adult collection due to the popularity of the Maximum Ride series. The main character in the series, Maximum, was first introduced in this novel and it's sequel, The Lake House. However, the character in When the Wind Blows and it's sequel are slightly different than the Max in the Maximum Ride series and supporting characters are changed, but it is still interesting to see where the idea of the character originated.

In the novel, FBI agent Kit Harrison is investigating a series of murders of prominent doctors who seem to be hiding something. One murdered doctor was the husband of Frannie O'Neill, a local veterinarian who suddenly stumbles upon a strange sight in the woods - a young girl with wings. This girl, named Max, escaped from a place called "The School" where she and her brother had been raised as lab rats and recently escaped. The people who ran The School don't want any witnesses to the experimentations that they've done and are now out to destroy the problems that have arisen with Max's escape. With the help of Kit and Frannie, though, Max tries to free her friends from The School and expose the secrets of some sick scientists trying to play God.

I find this book fascinating because of the idea of what science might become. Although this book is 12 years old, the ideas are still mind-blowing. It is an intricately woven plot and with intriguing characters that draw you in from the beginning. Each character has his/her own back story and you want the good guys to succeed and the bad guys to fail. The book has amazing twists and keeps you gripped from page one. It is, however, definitely intended for adult audiences. Some of the science is very complicated and heavy to sort through. There are also adult themes (violent/graphic deaths and just a little bit of sex - not that teens aren't already exposed to these themes). A lot of the novel focuses more on the adults and their investigation of The School and the associated murders. Even when Max comes front and center, it's about exposing The School and it's evils.

I haven't read the Maximum Ride series so I don't know how much actual appeal this novel will have for those fans since the only similarities I know between the books are a girl with wings who can fly named Max and the fact that she was created at a place called "The School." It is, though, a really good book, especially for teens who are looking for a fast paced, thrilling book that will challenge their reading.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Before woman's lib, it was believed that a fulfilled woman was a married woman, mother, and socially involved or involved with church causes. There was no place for single women, especially not those who wanted to be doctors or other professionals. Such a woman might be sent to do service with a family, sent to a convent or even sent to an asylum for the mentally ill as happened to Louisa if they in some way became inconvenient to the family.
Louisa always preferred studying science, riding horses and hanging with her father to "appropriate" womanly pursuits. With her father's support she had been studying for the entrance exams for the newly opened women's college. But her father died. Her beloved cousin for whom she had surprised feelings beyond that which was customary was marrying as a good girl should. Suddenly Louisa was in the way. She is told she is going to a family to be a governess but winds up in Wildthorn. Its an asylum of the worst kind with abusive attendants, bad food, nothing to occupy a person's mind, and no escape unless the person's who wanted Louisa out of the way decided to sign her release papers. Louisa's struggles at the asylum, how she escapes, how she learns about the conspiracy that put her there and her blossoming romance with one kind attendant makes for a fast riveting read. Its part historical fiction, part homosexual romance and part women's lib. This story will make all of us females glad to be living in the twentieth century. jdw 12/13/10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Designated Ugly Fat Friend By: Kody Keplingler

This novel got great reviews, and I could hardly put it down.

One of the main personalities is seventeen-year-old Bianca. She thinks of herself as not pretty , but is very smart. Bianca is way to smart to get involved with the opposite sex. In fact Bianca pours coke in the face of Wesley Rush at the school cafeteria.
Later in the novel, things change for Bianca and Wesley. They become good friends, and in fact start dating. Bianca relies on Wesley when her parents get a nasty divorce. Bianca has a father, who is a secret alcoholic , who got over the problem . When her father received the divorce papers, he goes on a binge, and gets violent. Bianca lives with her Dad. Her Dad started to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, which helped him a lot.
Now Bianca spends a lot of time with Wesley alone without supervision Bianca does not want to go home to see her Dad drinking to much, and making a mess out of himself. The divorce has caused him shock, and he cannot believe it. In fact, the Dad had no clue as to what the wife was going to do. The novel is really a good message for all of us.
Do not presume you know all this material. Things like this happen all the time. Whether, or not you expect it. I liked this novel very much.


Pay Back Time By: Carl Deuker

This is a novel for teen males, but I find by reading, the novel it is good for teen females as well. It has a lot of action , and intrigue, and it is interesting to both males, and females.

We get to know Kimi, the school reporter, who takes photo's for the school newspaper. Mitch True works on the School newspaper with Kimi, and they are good friends.

Mitch, and Kimi are working on the missing links of Angel Marichal , who is the corner-back on the High School football team. He is a fantastic player . Angel is a 6 ft. 3 inches teen, and weighs 230 pounds, and is able to score points for Lincoln High School. Why does not the School Coach McNulty use Angel's great abilities, or talent to have Lincoln High School win against other football teams ?
Kimi, and Mitch True investigate Angel's background, and find his file in the School Office is blank, and only has the Coach of the High School's signature McNulty. It seems like a cover-up
of some kind. Angel Marichal's family it seems are illegal in the United States. Therefore, Angel was brought to the town where Lincoln High School is located to hide from the Immigration agents. He was also an important witness to a murder in his home town in California.

Read the novel to find out more details, and what really happens in this novel. I liked the novel.


Sugar & Spice By: Lauren Conrad

This novel is a good read for any teen girl, who loves watching reality television . This shows how actresses cannot confide in anyone in Hollywood , even close friends, because they are out to get the role you wanted without thinking twice. Jane is one of the personalities who just wants to control her life. Jane swears off men, and all the problems that come with them. We then are introduced to Scarlett, who has one boyfriend called Liam. The problem with Scarlett, is she is friendly with the cameramen, and men working off stage. Liam does not like to be the second fiddle to Scarlett.
The author towards the end of the novel, reveals that the real drama is usually behind the scenes.
I liked the novel very much.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Behemoth - Scott Westerfeld

The war between the Clankers and Darwinists continues in Behemoth, the second in Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy. After escaping the mountain with Prince Alek, Count Volger, and Master Klopp the Leviathan heads toward Constantinople. They are attacked as soon as they reach the city by a Tesla cannon, which uses lightning for its blast. The Leviathan avoids destruction, and at the same time Alek and Klopp make their escape into Constantinople. While there they befriend an American news reporter, who eventually figures out who Alek really is. Back on the Leviathan the captain reveals to Deryn the true reason they are in Constantinople. He wants Deryn to take a group of three men and place vitriolic barnacles at the bottom of kraken nets to disolve them, which will take about one month. This will allow the Behemoth to come through, and turn the war in favor of the Darwinists. Deryn succeeds in her mission, but looses her men and becomes stranded in Constantinople. Can Deryn find Alek, who is also in the city, and also get back to the Leviathan?

Behemoth was just as good and fast paced as Leviathan. It continued the story nicely, and left you with ideas where the story might go in the third book. The third book in the Leviathan trilogy called Goliath, will be coming out in October of 2011.

T.B. 12/3/10