Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stitches: A Memoir

David Small was born with breathing problems. As a child, he was treated by his father, the radiologist, with x-rays to help his asthma back before doctors realized the danger in radiation exposure. A growth developed on his neck and was left untreated for many years. When he finally went in for a simple operation to remove the growth, he ended up having two operations and leaving the hospital without one of his vocal cords. David was forced into a world of silcence where he screamed to try and make his voice heard. Turns out, his father had unintentionally given David cancer with his x-ray treatment. What made things worse is neither his father or mother wanted to admit that David had cancer. 

This is a beautifully drawn story in black and white images. David Small's parents were out of touch, almost cruel. To a child needing love and attention, they were cruel and unloving. Small recreates these feelings and expressions perfectly on the page. In simple pictures, he manages to convey his feelings to the reader. He makes the scar from the surgery seem huge and domineering and scary.

This was a moving novel.  Although it wasn't told in the traditional manner, I can't imagine David Small's autobiography being told any other way. A definite must read.

Book Three in the Graphic Novels Challenge.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Supernatural: Rising Son

This comic is a prequel to the TV series. It follows John Winchester as he is on the road hunting demons and decides to let his children, specifically Dean, in on what he is really doing every day and begins training them to follow in the family business. I enjoyed this comic a lot. I love Supernatural (although it is one of the TV shows that I watch on DVD so I am always a season behind). In this comic, we see the boys becoming hunters. John Winchester is becoming suspicious of exactly who, or what, Sam might be. It also shows the beginning of Dean's need to protect Sam. Lilith also rears her head in this comic but, for some reason, I didn't think the Winchester boys knew who she was when she appeared on the show but maybe I was wrong. The comic wasn't particularly earth-shattering but it was fun and I can never get enough of the Winchesters.

Book Two of the Graphic Novel Challenge

The Sea of Monsters: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Book Two

The Sea of Monsters is the second book in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. In Sea of Monsters, Percy returns unexpectedly to Camp Half-Blood to learn that it's in trouble. The magic that protects its borders has been poisoned and the camp is falling victim to attacks by monsters. Now Percy and his friends must go on another quest to find a magical item that will save Camp Half-Blood.

I enjoyed The Sea of Monsters more than The Lightning Thief. I found that the characters were much more developed. Riordan also started revealing more of the over-arching theme to the series and gave us a hint as to exactly what Percy's biggest quest will be as at least part of the Oracle's prophecy involving Percy is revealed. This series is becoming even more enchanting as it goes along.

Book Five in the 101 Fantasy Challenge.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Scarecrow

OK, I've got to admit right up front that I am a huge Michael Connelly fan. I get excited everytime I see a new Harry Bosch book is about to come out. Somehow, though, in all my other reading, The Scarecrow and 9 Dragons have been languishing away in my To Be Read stack, or in this case, my To Be Listened To stack. Finally, though, I decided to treat myself and listen to The Scarecrow. This isn't a Harry Bosch novel. It's Jack McEvoy - you know the reporter from The Poet, one of Michael Connelly's early books and one of my favorites. Oh, wait, they're all favorites. ;)  The book starts out with Jack McEvoy learning that his job as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times is being down-sized and what's worse he's got to train his replacement. Jack decides to use his last two weeks to write a story that will free a 16 year old accused of murder. Turns out, Jack has stumbled upon a serial killer that has been operating under police radar for years. He ends up having to call his old girlfriend, FBI Agent Rachel Walling from The Poet, to help him find the murderer.

As I was listening to this story, I found myself wanting to drive around in circles on my way home just so that I could keep listening and find out what happens next. Peter Giles is an excellent narrator and I feel that his voice suits the character of Jack McEvoy perfectly. I wish Michael Connelly would write more Jack McEvoy novels. Of course, that would take time away from Harry Bosch so . . .  In any event, I'm glad I finally got around listening to it. 9 Dragons just might have to be my next listen.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Lia and Cassie were best friends but now Cassie is dead and Lia is haunted. She sees Cassie's ghost pushing her own, reminding her, making her feel guilty. Lia is obsessed with becoming thin and being the thinnest person she could be despite the obvious hazards to her own health. Her family knows there's something wrong but they don't know how to help. Will Lia be able to figure things out? Or will she just die?

This is my second Laurie Halse Anderson book. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it. I think my biggest problem was that I had a hard time relating to Lia. Anybody who knows me can tell you that I enjoy eating; so, I have a hard time imagining how someone could starve themselves and refuse to eat all in pursuit of being thin. But, I did feel for Lia and I wanted things to work out for her. The writing was well done and it was an easy read. I much prefer Speak to Wintergirls; however, I would recommend Wintergirls to anyone who might have an eating disorder or know someone who does.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: Book 1

Percy Jackson's life has gotten very wierd. Not only has he been kicked out of boarding school once again, but odd things have been happening around him such as the monsters from his Greek mythology class chasing him and trying to kill him. Turns out, the ancient Greek gods are real and one of them is the father that abandoned Percy as a baby. Even worse than that, somebody stole Zues' lightning bolt and Percy is the prime suspect. Percy and his friends have ten days to to find the lightning bolt and return it to Mount Olympus.

I've heard tons of comparisons of this series to the Harry Potter series and there are a  number of similarities (orphaned boy who has magical powers, two sidekick friends - one very smart and the other a goofball, both boys have a quest to complete that if they fail means horrendous things for the world) but that's about where the similarities end. Rick Riordan's book is steeped in Greek mythology. There are allusions to classical characters and legends scattered all through the books. I'm positive I missed more than one (guess I'll need to find that copy of Edith Hamilton's Mythology and do some studying). This first book was very fast paced, easy to read and fun.

Book 4 in the 101 Fantasy Challenge

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Wow. That's the first word that came to mind after I finished Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. My next thought was "I need to read that again." Speak is the story of teenage Melinda Sordino. Melinda is just entering high school and is already an Outcast. Most of the high school kids are mad at her for busting up a party at the end of the summer. Even people she doesn't know hate her. Yet, Melinda has a darker secret. One that she finds so terrifying and so impossible to talk about that she just stops talking. I won't say more than that so that I don't risk giving away any of the story.

This is the first book I read by Laurie Halse Anderson. The sales pitches on the book gave it a lot to live up to "National Book Award Finalist," "A Printz Honor Book," and "one of the most important YA novels published in the past decade." I think the book lives up to those expectations. Halse did a good job of capturing the teenage voice and letting us into the mind of Melinda. She communicated her message well (even though she claims in the back of the book that she was just trying to tell a good story). I felt for Melinda and by the middle of the book, more than anything, I just wanted Melinda to break down, speak and tell her story.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

Tommy Taylor's dad, Wilson, wrote a series of successful fantasy books a lot like Harry Potter and used his son, Tommy, as the main character. Then, one day, Wilson Taylor disappeared. Since that time, Tommy has been making the convention rounds and living off the fame created for him by his dad. Fans fall at his feet considering him to be the boy wizard of the books.

The Unwritten is a joint effort of Mike Carey and Peter Gross. You'll have to forgive me here because I'm not quite sure how to review a graphic novel. I don't  know how I should judge or anything like that so I'll just tell you what I liked about it. I loved the way there was so much literature in this graphic novel. I'm not talking about it being literature in of itself, I'm talking about it referencing back to literature and literature history. There's Samuel Clemens, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, references to novels are scattered all the way through the story. It makes me feel like a worm in a bookstore. I laughed at the conventions because I've seen (and maybe been) some of those rapid fans. I was also impressed with artwork. At times, I found myself just studying some of the pictures because of all the wonderful graphics and places where pictures where words were hidden. I can't wait until Volume 2 comes out. From my research, I can't even find where the second volume has been started, it may be a long wait.

Book 1 in the Graphic Novels Challenge.

Graphic Novels Challenge

I have decided to start  yet another challenge.  It's the Graphic Novels Challenge 2010 .  I've just started getting into graphic novels so I'm going to go ahead and reach for the intermediate level of 3-10 graphic novels or comics. I've already found lots of graphic novels that interest me. Now, I just have to figure out the correct reading order of them and where to start. Help!

Something From the Nightside, Nightside Book 1

John Taylor is a private eye with a special Gift - he can find anything. It's a gift that came from his mother who deserted him as a child. Taylor lives in London but he he was born in Nightside a secret side of London that kind of shares the same space as London but is a totally different, magical world. In the Nightside everything is magical, dangerous and enchanting. Taylor left the Nightside five years earlier and swore he would never return but now Joanna Barrett has appeared on his doorstep and asked him to hunt down her runaway daughter who has disappeared in the Nightside.

I totally loved this first book in the series by Simon Green. I listened to it on audiobook and it was just wonderful. It was fun, lots of magic and mystery, a good basis for the beginning of a series. There's lots of room for the characters to grow and expand. The Nightside is still a world of complete mystery as Simon Green just introduced to it. Marc Vietor narrated the book and he did really good. Although, for some reason, he had me thinking of Harry Dresden the entire time I was listening to the book. Now, when am I going to work the rest of the series into my to be read stack?

Book 3 in the 101 Fantasy Reading Challenge.

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star

Rise of the Evening Star is the second book in the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. In this book, danger has come to Fablehaven again as the Society of the Evening Star has discovered the existence of Fablehaven and that it hides one of the hidden artifacts of power. Kendra and Seth return to Fablehaven to help their grandparents and three experts, a potions master, a collector of magical relics and a trapper of mythical creatures, protect the refuge from the bad guys.

I enjoyed this book much more than the first book. They're not the "best books ever" but they are good stories and very enjoyable. I feel like all the characters became more fleshed out and real in the second book and I hope they continue to grow as the series goes on. The enemy to Fablehaven and other magical refuges became more defined in this book; so, we got a better of idea of who the main enemy is. I look forward to seeing how the books continue and the overall mythology of the world grows.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Primary Phase

It's been about ten years since I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy  books by Douglas Adams. When I saw this audiobook on Audible, I got really excited. What a great opportunity to not only refresh my memory on the books but also to hear them as they were originally performed - as a radio series. According to the Audible website, this radio drama first aired in 1978. It stars the voices of Peter Jones, Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey, Susan Sheridan and Stephen Moore.

For those who don't know anything about the storyline, the planet Earth is destroyed by Vogons to make room for an intergalactic freeway. Just before Earth is destroyed, Arthur Dent is taken aboard the Vogan spaceship by his friend, Ford Prefect. From there, the galaxy opens up to Dent and Prefect as they move from spaceship to spaceship, world to world and experience all kinds of fun and quirky things - - including the end of the universe - - and they begin their search for the question to the answer of life, the  universe and everything.

I really enjoyed listening to this book. It was fun and brought back some of my favorite parts of the story that I had forgotten about. At times, the audio quality wasn't too great as the background noises would overpower the voices or some of the voices were just plain hard to understand. The music is definitely a flashback to 1978. If you get a chance, I recommend this audio drama if for no other reason that to experience how the rest of the world was first introduced to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.