Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shiver by Maggie Steifvater

Since yesterday was Memorial Day, I took the day off and spent it with friends.

Hence the review being moved to today.

Shiver enchanted me.  As you know, I don't usually read romance (at least, not willingly).  But Shiver is a romance, a fantasy romance at that.  With werewolves.

But it's not what you're thinking.  It doesn't read like a contemporary romance (say, like Twilight).  It's magical.  Mysterious.  Much more akin to a Grimm fairytale than a modern story.  It was beautiful.

Haunting -- that's the word for this story.  A young girl was bitten by wolves and saved by a wolf.  She remembers, and every year waits for the one who saved her, the one with yellow eyes.  There's a draw she can't explain.  Something calls to her.

And then she meets him.  The wolf-who-is-a-boy.  Sam Roth is only a boy when it's warm.  The two have been in love for quite some time, and when they finally meet when both are humans, the love deepens, irrevocably.

They're sweet.  Innocent.  Charming.  Sam and Grace are unique, each struggling with family, identity, and destiny.

What will happen to them when it gets cold?  Sam only has so many years he can change.  After that...he'll be a wolf forever.

I thought the development of the werewolf mythology in this book was particularly original.  I won't spoil it but there is more going on than a simple fairytale.  There's something else just on the edge, a blend of science and magic that's almost tangible.

There are certain authors who have ways of stringing words together that create effortless landscapes, feelings, smells, sounds...Maggie is one of them.  She really does write magically well.  If I was dropped in the little town where Grace and Sam live, I could find my way to the bookstore, Beck's house, and Grace's. I could spot the school, the candy store, and Grace's car, and all of it is tinged with that "once upon a time" aura.

There's an eerie feel throughout the book, almost as if you're being swallowed up in the story.  You become part of it.  You become just as fascinated as Grace by the wolves.

I thought it would be a one shot, but the ending was so abrupt that I ached for more.  I needed resolution.  And then I found out it was a series.  I still think the writing could have been less abrupt, but I'm thrilled to see we're getting more stories from The Wolves of Mercy Falls.

It isn't summer reading, so maybe once Autumn arrives, pick this one up and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Insurgent by Veronica Roth -- CultureMass Article

Hi everybody,

Here's the link I promised to my review of Insurgent via CultureMass:

Insurgent Review by K.M. Cone

I'm a staff writer for the TV section (check out my reviews of Supernatural and Once Upon A Time episodes!) but I occasionally write a piece for the Lit section.

Let me know what you think!

Croak by Gina Damico

I do apologize for the last two weeks -- amidst Finals Week here at uni, two weddings, birthday and graduation parties and art/writing projects...I've done some reading but haven't done any blogging!

So I'm going to share a review today and then put up a link to a review I did for CultureMass.com when it's published!

Gina Damico's Croak is one of my new favorite books.  If you can tolerate a little language, and you love goth, punk, motorcycles, adrenaline, fantasy, wit/sarcasm, word humor, or badassery, then you need to read this book.

It was the word humor that got me from the very beginning, when Lexington and Concord Bartleby, the twins, were introduced.  Their mom's kind of into American History.  Just a wee bit.

I cackled even harder when I realized where Ms. Damico was going with the word humor, but I won't ruin the surprise for you.

Lex is sixteen, a troublemaker, and her parents are over it.  She's sent away to live with her crazy uncle for the summer, presumably to work on a farm.  Lex's uncle definitely does NOT own a farm, but is rather the mayor of a small town comprised of Grim Reapers.  And he's going to train Lex as one.

What follows is Lex's understandable shock that people have this job, and her horror as the town is targeted by a wild Grim Reaper who's on an unsanctioned killing spree.  Can Lex and the other Junior Reapers solve the mystery?  What happens when they do?

I laughed through most of the book, although there are some really sad scenes (that I did not laugh at).  Lex is quite believable as a rebel without a cause (a little bit like John Bender from The Breakfast Club, which meant I loved her immediately), and I am dying (oh dear) to read Scorch, the next book in the Croak trilogy.

I even went around in a black hoodie the other day to pretend I was Lex.

That's how much I freaking loved this book.

Go read it now so we can talk about it!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Bookish Escape Giveaway!

A Bookish Escape is giving away a bunch of awesome signed books (The Archived, Divergent, Starters, etc.) - if you want to try your luck, enter here:

A Bookish Escape Giveaway

May the odds be ever in your favor!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Butter by Erin Jade Lange

A few years ago, a friend who shares my book tastes (almost exactly) told me I should read this book.  I dutifully noted the title, but since it hadn't come out yet (he'd read an ARC), it got shuffled down in by TBR pile.

Last week I was browsing at the library and was delighted to finally see a copy!  I checked it out, along with about twenty other books, and brought it home.

I finally started reading it last night and I almost didn't go to bed.  I wanted to read the entire thing in one sitting.  I finished it this morning and my emotions are all in a jumble.  It feels personal, somehow.

Butter is a book you won't soon forget.

The main character, Marshall, is nicknamed "Butter" after a cruel incident involving an entire stick of butter.  Butter is overweight, plagued by a silent father, a loving yet hopelessly ineffective mother, and a highschool full of unfriendly kids.  His professor and doctor try to help, but Butter is convinced that no one cares about him.

So he creates ButtersLastMeal.com, a grotesque suicide mission with live streaming.  What happens next is not what he expected: he becomes popular.  People love the idea, it's novel, daring, and life-threatening.  As Butter's popularity increases, so does his resolve to carry out his original plan.  He spirals out of control and no one, the naysayers nor his adoring public, are ready for what follows.

The characters, while regular teens, are fully realized, three dimensional, making them all memorable.  Butter's a musician, a brilliant saxophone player; the girl of his dreams, Anna, is a fake blond who secretly hates shopping.  Jeremy, Butter's nemesis, is a semi-rich kid unliked by even his friends.

I loved Marshall (Butter)'s voice -- he is the kind of guy I'd love to spend time with.  He's funny, charming, sweet, and incredibly smart and talented.  It pained me to see his emotional journey, and it brought to mind some of my own darkest moments.

Butter is a deep, tragic glimpse into the life of someone who has suffered emotional, physical and mental damage at his own hands as well as everyone else's, driving his actions.  It's a reminder to me to look beneath the surface when I meet someone.  There's more to us than even we know.

Have you read Butter?  If so, what did you think?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Beautiful Creatures, No. 1 by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

I was trying to decide which book to review today and realized I never talked about Beautiful Creatures apart from the first few lines!

Here, then, are my thoughts upon reading the first book of the Beautiful Creature series:

1.  The setting is phenomenal.  I feel like I know this town.  Gatlin, South Carolina must be a a real place.  Since I live in South Carolina, I was happily surprised at the authenticity of the novel's setting.  Everything rang true to me, from the superstitions, pies, people, and small-town petty feuds.  The muggy heat, the thunderstorms, the countryside...the landscape is impeccable.

2.  The characters don't seem so much like characters as potential neighbors.  Again, this could just be me, living in the South, but I also know people like this.  Even though there's paranormal activity going on, even though some of these people aren't technically 100% human...these people are real, or at least they feel real.  Even the teenagers are real, without being gross or risque (which I deeply appreciate, since I am squeamish when it comes to steamy scenes).

3.  I loved the relationships between people.  Ethan's heartbreaking relationship with his father, his humorous (and somewhat awed) relationship with Amma, his sweet relationship with Lena, and his dislike of the lives of the people around him.  I can definitely identify with that last one.

4.  The history presented in this book is a great middle-of-the-road view.  It isn't anti-South, but it isn't exactly pro-North either.  It presents the Civil War for what it was: a great tragedy in the history of our nation.  Both sides suffered, in more ways than one.  And some families haven't quite forgotten it.

5.  My only nitpick is that there were so many words.  I feel like there wasn't enough action to merit such a high word count (the book is enormous).  I might be inclined to say it was because they had to ground the story in such a deeply complicated setting, but I've also just read a fantastic dystopian YA novel that had the bare minimum description and still managed to make me feel like I was there.  So...I go back and forth about it.  It only detracted slightly from my enjoyment of the story.

My favorite character right now is Lena.  She's a very unique individual.  I feel like we would get along.  I feel like we have a lot in common (writing, keeping little things that we consider valuable, highly sensitive), even though she is vastly different from me (she has supernatural powers, which of course, no matter how much I want them, I do not possess).

I'm really enjoying Beautiful Darkness (book two), and I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out in a few weeks.  Come back next Monday for a review on a different book!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Showers of Books Giveaway Hop!

There's a great giveaway going on right now -- lots of good books up for grabs!

Follow along with me by starting here: http://www.literaryrambles.com/2013/04/shower-of-books-blog-hop-giveaway.html

Good luck!

(I'm hoping for a chance to win Cinder or Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, Under the Never Sky or Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi, or Shadow & Bone or Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo!)