Thursday, February 18, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.
I thought that I would like this book more than I did. I thought that it would rock my world, and it didn't. It was really good, and I enjoyed it, but that was it. The plot was really fun and different, which I found thoroughly delightful. I really loved how Westerfield wove mechanical possibilities with advanced genetic engineering in a believable (ish) version of the past. I was particularly intrigued by the Darwinist because I'm a huge science person. The problem that I had was with the main characters. I couldn't connect with them very well at all. It wasn't that they were annoying, or had some other blatantly obvious flaw. The issue resided not with the writing either, for Westerfield was on point with the prose. There was just some disconnect somewhere that left me feeling a little cold. I had begun to warm by the very end of the book to both of them, I think in part due to their relationship with one another. Together they were much more compelling than they were separately. Overall this was a fun start to an interesting new series. It wasn't quite as amazing as I had expected, but it wasn't bad. This might also resonate better with younger teen boys, as it has lots of action without lots of romance.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I was immediately struck by the influences of Chima’s universe. Every people seems to have a very particular culture that resonates with some actual culture. Native American, feudal, and Scandinavian pseudo-societies make up many of the factions, and though it has yet to be fully revealed, there appear to be even more cultures to explore.
This intricately conceived world is further set off by strong and dynamic characters. I did feel that the characterization of the Heir series was a little more sophisticated, but this book lags behind only slightly.
The plot lags in the middle; however, by the end, Chima is fully in the driver’s seat. The conclusion reveals that much of this novel is set up for the rest of the tale, and I’m really excited to see what she can do with it in the future.
Chima once again delivers a book well-worth reading.
Monday, February 8, 2010
This raw, moving novel follows two teenagers-one, a Mohawk-wearing 17-year-old violent misfit; the other, a gay 13-year-old cast out by his family, hustling on the streets and trying to survive. Acclaimed author Davida Wills Hurwin creates a riveting narrative told in alternating perspectives of their lives before and after the violent hate crime that changed both their futures. This tragic but ultimately inspirational journey of two polarized teens, their violent first meeting, and their peaceful reunion years later is an unforgettable story of survival and forgiveness.
This story is inspired by the real lives of Matthew Boger and Timothy Zaal, who have shared their story on The Oprah Winfrey Show and NPR.
The concept of this book scared me a little at first. I'm not the world's biggest Oprah fan, and books about "Oprah stories" can be more than a bit cliche and boring. So, I went into this book with less than astoundingly high expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I really thought that the way the book was written made it much better. I loved that it was told by both of the major characters, and that it was so evident when the change occurred. The fact that the font changed was such a great divider, and I felt that the fonts were good representation of the characters. How the book managed to avoid the cliche was that it told the stories of the characters as individuals, instead of just focusing on the moment their paths crossed. The main complaint that I had was that at the beginning it was extremely difficult to determine which character was narrating.
I found the supporting cast to be interesting, and I though that the book was made richer because of them. None of them were astounding. The plot wasn't the main focus of the book; instead it relied on developing the main players and letting everything flow from there. The ending was so moving without being sappy and trite.
This was a lovely book that hit the right nerves once it got going. This is a good read about the biases that we have and how they affect others.
And now for the fun stuff! The winners of a copy are:
We're sending e-mails to the winners so we can get your addresses!