Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Persy -- Wednesday Scrolls -- RAMFAP is almost over!

That's right, there's onle one week left of RAMFAP month! How many of you have participated? What books have you reread? How maany more do you hope to squeeze in?

I'm not doing as well as I'd hoped, but I still feel pretty proud of my accomplishments. I'm on my fourteenth book. I got off to a very bad start, but I've been slowly catching up as my life quiets down and I have more time just to read. My last class of summer ballet just ended today, so I'll have even more time for this last week of RAMFAP, so I've got a lot of rapid reading planned!

Don't let RAMFAP escape you! Don't put it off! Go grab that favorite book and read it! I strongly recommend some frozen hot chocolate or a tasty milkshake to go along with it (it's way too hot to go without)!

Look forward to a review from Arty this weekend, and next Wednesday we'll sum up our RAMFAP adventures!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Persy -- Born of Ice by Sherrilyn Kenyon

You may remember my reviews of the first two books in Sherrilyn Kenyon's League series: Born of Night and Born of Fire. You may remember how much I love these books. I mean, it's not like I rave about them all the time or anything.

Unfortunately, book #3, Born of Ice doesn't quite live up to the first two books. Sure, the more you read any Kenyon books and the less amazing they are, but even the first time through, "Ice" wasn't overly impressive. But I still love it.

Devyn Kell is the son of Shahara and Syn (see Born of Fire), and a runner (similar to a smuggler, but not quite). He used to work as a army medic, but effectively "resigned" when he turned against his own unit in order to save a ten-year-old boy (Omari, who becomes Devyn's adopted son). And then there's Devyn's ex-fiancée, who mortally injured Devyn years ago, leaving him with a dangerous heart condition.

Alix is a slave. After her father/owner dies, a man named Merjack gets a hold of her and decides to use her to get back at Devyn's family. Y'see, Alix bears a startling resemblance to Devyn's ex-fiancée. So Alix joins Devyn's crew as the engineer. Even in the beginning, she doesn't want to take down Devyn, but it becomes harder and harder as she falls deeper and deeper... IN LOVE!!!

I'm going to go right out and say it. Devyn and Alix are both pretty stupid. I don't really care about either of them. And let's face it: the plot of "Ice" is pretty basic too, and not at all interesting. I get the feeling Kenyon didn't spend a lot of time editing this book, because it just isn't too awesome compared to the other books in the series.

And don't get me started on Kenyon's all time favorite line. "And in that instant, she/he knew insert-obvious-fact-of-life-here." She used it a few times in her other books, but she really goes overboard in "Ice". It gets a leetle ridiculous.

It would also be very confusing for people who haven't read books #1, #2, and #4 (possibly #5, but I haven't read that yet, so I don't know if it makes things clearer or not). It seems like every single character ever named in the League series had about fifteen children, and they're all in Born of Ice. It gets very hard to keep track of them.

The only things that save this book are Vik and Omari. Vik first appeared in "Fire", and he's only gotten better since then. I have a soft spot for snarky robots. And then Omari is just cute.

So...basically it's not a very well-written book. But! The first time through is as captivating as ever, and I mean... VIK!! He makes it all okay.

By the way, we're over halfway into RAMFAP are y'all doing? Better than I am, I hope... That's all I'm gonna say.


You might like this if you: like dramatic romances with stupid main characters; improbably spaceship chase scenes; tortured characters; or just the other books in Sherrilyn Kenyon's League series.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Arty -- The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Since we're now going into the third week of RAMFAP Month (time has flown), I haven't read anything but favorites, so you're going to get to hear me rant!

(Actually, I did read Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare and the first volume of Ultimate Spider-man, but Angel had me severely depressed, what with the whole Jem thing [WHY IS HE IN LOVE WITH TESSA HE'S SO INTELLIGENT AND AWESOME OTHERWISE WHY JUST WHY], and I'm not qualified to judge comic books.)

Moving on.

Two Princesses starts out with, yes, two princesses.  Princess Meryl is bold and adventurous - a fearless princess with great plans of great adventures.  Princess Adelina, or Addie, is her sister's exact opposite, a girl afraid of everything; she embroiders beautifully, but relies on her sister to do everything else.  In fact, she's made Meryl promise never to go adventuring until Addie is wed, and has someone else to look after her.

Meryl's plans include finding the cure for the Grey Death, a horrible disease that always ends in, well, death.  The princesses' mother was taken by it.  And when it once again visits the royal house of Bamarre, Meryl's determination to find the cure strengthens.  That is, until it strikes Meryl down as well.

There's no way Addie can survive without her sister.  But to keep her sister, Addie is going to have to find the cure for Grey Death herself.

Levine's most popular book by far is Ella Enchanted, but this book has always been my favorite of hers.  She captures Addie's fearful voice perfectly, without making her overly annoying but never excusing her cowardice.  I love Addie.  She's one of the best princesses ever.

The story may be a little slow - the action doesn't pick up until a good ten or twelve (shortish) chapters in - but it's not boring.  Until then, you have lovely character and world building that's always interesting.  You learn of the different creatures in Bamarre - specters that will lead you to your death but can tell the future if you catch one, fierce dragons that steal both treasure and prisoners to entertain them, elusive fairies that haven't been seen for years, and the elves that sometimes serve humans - as well as some of the customs.  Drualt is the great Bamarrian epic, telling the tales of 'the laugher,' Drualt, who is Addie's hero.  I just love Bamarre.  One of my favorite worlds ever.

And the side characters are awesome.  Rhys is a sorcerer - he's in his seventies, but since sorcerers are actually a whole different race (they're born when lightning strikes marble) and live for five hundred years, he's actually only in his early twenties in human time.  Naturally he becomes Addie's love interest, but he's so cute.  He has a habit of bowing; he has white eyelashes and unattractively large, bony feet; and he actually helps Addie in her quest as much as he can.  One of the best love interests ever.

Meryl, as the spunky princess, is amazingly tolerable, and I can see why Addie is so devoted to her; you can tell she really does care for Addie.  Milton and Bella, servants of the princesses, have smaller roles but are equally fun to listen to.  And Vollys, the dragon Addie meets, is... interesting.  Very, very interesting.  One of the most interesting dragons ever.

And the ending.  Oh, man, the ending.  I can't give anything away, but... one of the best endings ever.

Okay, by now, you may think that Princesses is one of my favorite books ever.  And it is.  It's not brilliant, maybe, and it's a very quiet sort of awesome - not an in-your-face, screaming sort of awesome, like the Books of Umber or Harry Potter.  But it is awesome, and I can find very little fault with it.  The whole love issue between Addie and Rhys was a bit abrupt?  Whatever, it's a fairytale.  They're adorable anyway.  Everyone's adorable.  And awesome.  Like the book.  Read it.  Seriously, go read it now.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wednesday Scrolls -- June Review!

Hey guys, and welcome to our review of the month of June! This is Persy talking.

So in the month of June, I read a total of 15 books and 3244 pages. Strangely, the page count isn't very good, but the book count is. I read a lot of short books though, mostly because I was in Ireland for half of June and didn't get much reading time.

Best June Book: I guess it's Sir Thursday by Garth Nix, book four in his Keys To The Kingdom series. Very rarely does a fourth book become a favorite book, but I really think it is one of the best "Keys" books. Agh, it was just so much fun. Also, The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde. It's a cool little anthology of different short stories based on Rumpelstiltskin, and all the stories are great.

Honorable Mentions: There's kind of a lot, but... I Am Here! Vol. 2 (Ema Toyama), The Titan's Curse (Rick Riordan), Replication (Jill Williamson), and Eyes of the Desert Sand (Edwin Wolfe) are all good enough to get a quick mention.

Worst June Book: Among The Dolls by William Sleator. That's right, Sleator got on the worst list. But the book really wasn't very good. It was an excellent, creepy idea, but very poorly executed.

Dishonorable Mention: Eyes of the Desert Sand by Edwin Wolfe. I know, it also got on the honorable mentions, but hear me out. The story and world of "Eyes" is amazing. The writing, however, is atrocious. Seriously, that's the worst writing I've ever seen. *shudders*

We're almost two weeks into RAMFAP month! I'm about to finish my sixth book (I know, I'm a little behind, but I'm catching up). How are y'all doing?


Arty here, the reason we're a week behind.  Lost my record book and I haven't updated my Goodreads profile in ages, darnit.

Anyway, in June, I read 36 books, 10 of which were manga or graphic novels.  Wow.  These months just keep getting better and better.

Best June Book: Runemarks by Joanne Harris steals first place.  A Norse retelling - well, not really retelling, but it has the Norse pantheon (since we all know Arty is a Norse freak) - that's over 500 pages long and has an adooorable Loki?  Yeah.  So first place.

Honorable Mention: So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev, which is the last book in the Theatre Illuminata trilogy, was really great (though as confusing as she usually is) and the ending with Ariel nearly had me in tears.  But As You Like It - the graphic novelization/mangazation by Chie Kutsuwada, that is - was also really good (beautiful art) and the first two Pandora Hearts volumes by Jun Mochizuki are fantastic.

Worst June Book: Probably Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck.  Amazing premise, reeally poor execution and a dumb-as-rocks heroine.  And annoying love interests.  Because eeeeveryone loves them love triangles.

Dishonorable Mentions: Kin, the first book in the Good Neighbors graphic novel series by Holly Black, was really weird and just kind of... well.  Weird.  And not in a good way.  I really thought I'd like Holly Black, but I'm starting to think she may not be my type.

There you have it, June summed up.  I'm nine books into RAMFAP - not great, but not bad, either.  Hoping it picks up later on.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Persy -- Replication by Jill Williamson

Yaay, I'm back! Though I'll admit, I'd rather be back in Ireland right now... but I'll suck it up and face the music and write a review already.

Abby Goyer wasn't too pleased with her life to begin with, what with her parents' divorce and all. But then her dad drops the bomb: they're moving to Alaska, and she has about a day's notice. So she packs up and moves, only to discover that she's not very well-equiped for life in Alaska (her car certainly isn't practical).

J:3:3, AKA Martyr, has none of these troubles. He's lived at Jason Farms for all seventeen years of his life, and has never questioned his purpose. He knows that the outside world is toxic and suffering from a deadly sickness, and he knows that when he and the other Jasons turn eighteen, they will expire for the good of humanity.

But when a new doctor turns up at Jason Farms, Dr. Goyer, Martyr is suddenly allowed to ask questions he never could before, and he suddenly wants things he never even knew about. After talking with Dr. Goyer, he wants to see the sky just once before he expires. Is that too much to ask?

Escape proves easier than he expected. He sneaks out of Jason Farms, hides in the back of Dr. Goyer's truck, and is whisked away into the outside world, where he eventually comes face to face with Abby Goyer.

What follows is a very interesting adventure in which Abby struggles to understand Martyr's existence, struggles to survive her new high school, and struggles to keep a hold on her faith in God.

Clones. Christianity. Alaska. Skeptical? Don't be, 'cause this stuff is EPIC.

The summary I read of Replication: The Jason Experiment did not do justice to the book. I had no idea there was another subplot going on about Abby; in fact, the summary didn't even mention Abby. Which is a shame, 'cause she's pretty awesome.

When Abby's first moving out to Alaska, I couldn't help but be reminded of Twilight. As in, Jill Williamson was doing the same kind of girl-moves-to-a-freezing-area-and-starts-at-a-tiny-high-school-where-she-is-the-focus-of-all-attention-and-by-the-way-she's-really-smart story. The difference is, Jill Williamson made it work. For one thing, the reason why Abby becomes the main attraction is because she IS a rich girl from a big city and stands out a bit until she figures out how to blend in better. And then when the captain of the football team starts smirking at her, she RESISTS!!! She doesn't stand there stupidly with her mouth open. Oh, and by the way, Abby actually is smart.

That's really the only similarity between Replication and Twilight. So now we can move on with the review.

Martyr is freakin' awesome. Awesomer even than Abby. He's just so... cool. And he and Abby are freakin' adorable.

Oh, and did I mention that this book is Christian? And that it's still good? 'Cause it is, and it is. Very rarely have I encountered a Christian scifi book (thinking... thinking... actually, can't think of one at all), much less one that is actually made of awesome. But this is sooooo gooooood.

I'm really not sure how to go into more detail without giving anything away, but let's just suffice to say that YOU NEED TO READ THIS. Yes, YOU, the one on the computer! YOU need to read THIS BOOK.

I'm not exactly sure how you'll get your hands on it though; it feels a little obscure. I dunno, maybe it's not, but it just has that feel, if you know what I mean.

Well, we're one week into RAMFAP month, and I've read only three of my favorite books (but I'm picking up speed as we go). How are you guys doing?


You might like this if you: like low-key science fiction; like clones; think Bella Swan is an idiot; want some actual good Christian fiction; or if you've recently discovered a bald clone in your bedroom and aren't sure what to do about it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Arty -- Pandora Hearts, Vol. 1 and 2 by Jun Mochizuki

Heeeey guys.  I'm so late.  And I apologize.  You're used to this by now, right?

Anyway.  Not only am I late, I'm also cheating.  The manga Pandora Hearts is the only noteworthy thing I can remember reading in the past two weeks that I also haven't reviewed already.  Sad, right?  That's the way the pages fall...

Anyway.  Pandora Hearts.

Pandora Hearts is a manga series sort of based on Alice in Wonderland but with a story completely, totally its own.  The plot is intriguing, the characters are awesome, and the art is OH MY STARS SO PWETTY.  I mean, look at the cover of the first volume.  Look at it.  Beautimous.

Moving on.

Fifteen-year-old Oz Vessalius is all set to celebrate his coming-of-age ceremony at the creepy house his family reserves for such occasions.  It's not really a big deal to him - his father won't be there, anyway.  So mainly he's just having fun.  Running from the maids, tormenting his (flippin' adorable) little valet, Gilbert... the normal.

But when the ceremony starts, everything goes horribly wrong.

Oz is dragged headfirst into the Abyss, a nightmarish dimension where 'sinners' are condemned.  Also monsters, called Chains.  Oz meets one of these Chains, the B-Rabbit - known too as Alice, a young girl who needs a contract with a living person, so she can escape the Abyss.  Oz recklessly accepts... and they find their way back to the land of the living.

But a mysterious organization called Pandora wants Oz and his new Chain contract.  And who knows why?

Okay, that is an INSANELY difficult manga to sum up, especially when, at this juncture, I have almost no idea what's going on.  Yeah, even after two volumes, there are so many mysteries.  But it's awesome.  The plot is so promising and the premise is just amazing.  A Victorian, almost-not-quite-but-hinting-at steampunk world, and then the Abyss, which is just scary, believe me (the Chains are, too).  The characters, however, are what glows.

I mean, they glow.  Oz is a really interesting protagonist - kind of mischievous, but he can also be wise beyond his years... but he's not unbelievably smart.  Just... world-weary.  And you can't really blame the guy.

But Gilbert.  Oh, Gilbert.  He's adorable in both volumes, but in hugely different ways.  You'll get what I mean.  He's easily my favorite character so far.  Still, there's always Xerxes Break - who I'm guessing is supposed to be the Mad Hatter, whoot! - and his Pandora compatriot, Sharon.  Break is hilarious but I'm guessing there's more to him, too.  Sharon isn't so awesome, but maybe she'll get better.

Alice, as our requisite dark-haired angsty girl, actually succeeds really, really well.  I still don't know half of her story.  She's pretty much a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a puzzle.  Or however that saying goes.  Still, she's fun.  She knows how to handle herself but at the same time you get a sense of vulnerability...

Okay, I wax eloquent when I get on manga characters.  I think I can get into them a leetle bit more than normal, because I see them, too.  And in this case, you SEE them.  Jun Mochizuki has an AMAZING art style.  It's just beautiful.  Did I mention this already?  Oh well.  It bears repeating.  GORGEOUS.

So, basically, if you're a manga fan, read this.  At least the first two volumes.  Unless you don't like drawn-out mystery and questions.  In that case, don't read.  But if you're adventurous or just like an epic Alice in Wonderland retelling, READ IT.