Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

Title: Nevermore
Series/Sequel? Nevermore #1
Author:Kelly Creagh
Genre(s):Horror, Paranormal, Hard Topics
Age Level:YA
Page Count:543 (Hardcover)
Perspective: Third Person (female)

Summary: Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

Review: You need three things to read this book: stamina, a decent fear threshold, and a deep love of/interest in Poe.

This book is unlike anything I've every read. And I feel that it is so unique, it has not been given the recognition it deserves.

Nevermore was, in one word: clever. Ms. Creagh incorporated many of Poe's works into this novel in a way that was clever, interesting and enjoyable. Masque of the Red Death, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven - they were all in there, incorporated in a way that made me nod my head and give a little laugh. It was extremely well put together, and I loved reading Poe's works remade to fit the story.

This book is long. 543 pages long. And when I picked it up, I was concerned it was going to be boring and slow at parts. That fear went unfounded. It was put together perfectly, the scary parts and the slower parts spaced out so the scenes flowed seamlessly from one to the next.

This book is considered a Horror book, and that also concerned me. I don't consider myself having a very high fear threshold (which is strange for a fan of Poe, I realize), and I didn't want to be having nightmares for months. But it turned out to not be that scary. Yes, I will probably never look at shadows and big black birds the same way. And never again will I underestimate the powers of dreams. But unless you faint at the word 'death' or 'blood', I think you'll be okay.

I didn't think I was going to like Isobel very much. Reading the description, she sounded like a stereotypical cheerleader - blonde, stupid, and narrow-minded. But she turned out not to be like that. She was brave and intelligent, and didn't run away screaming when things got tough. She had integrity and morality, and she dropped her 'friends' when they proved to have a loose moral code. And I really respect her.

With this book, I was hoping for a great ending. The type of ending that takes your breath away and leaves you thinking about it for days. Unfortunately, it didn't exactly work out that way. It ended in a way that was probably really cool and amazing... except I didn't get it. So I can't rave about the presumable awesome-ness, because I don't understand the presumable awesome-ness. So, I was disappointed... until I realized that this isn't a stand-alone - it's the first of a trilogy. Now all I've got to do is pester my librarian into buying the sequel...



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why I Love Mab from the Iron Fey Series

One of my favorite series ever is The Iron Fey Series, by Julie Kagawa. Julie has come out with a compilation of 3 novellas from the series, which she is giving out to anyone who writes a post about who their favorites character is from the series and why. You can check out the full rules here, on her blog. Of course, I couldn't possibly pass this chance up, so I have written a post about why I love

Thanks to my best friend Rachel for drawing this! Don't you love the
snow piles and icicles?

I know, I know, all of you that have read the series or know any faerylore are probably flipping out because Mab is typically  portrayed as evil. Yes, she eternally suffocates people by freezing them in blocks of ice. Yes, she rules through fear. Yes, she doesn't believe in love. Yes, she exiled her own son because he was in love with a half-human from the other court. And while those things may be inexcusable, while I don't think any of those things are right, I still love her. Here's why:                 

She was the first feminist. 

I know she's a fictional character. I get that. But she started out as a character from the myths of the British isles, and I can't help but think that she gave some hope to the restricted women who were forced to stay home and cook and clean instead of doing anything interesting, because the men couldn't seem to get their heads around the fact that women were just as intelligent (if not more so) than them. Even though Mab rules through fear, she has ruled for presumably millennia over her court, without a man by her side. She has managed to keep a court of thousands of fey alive and prospering. She has managed to keep them protected. She knows what she's doing, and she does it perfectly fine. And she doesn't need a guy to help her. She doesn't depend on anyone else. To be brutally honest, she's badass. (Pardon my language.)

Many people say that women's rights movements didn't start until very late in the course of human history. Women today are still trying their very hardest to get equal rights. But suffrage started much earlier than anyone realizes. It started with Mab. 

So, that's one reason. One major reason, and probably the biggest reason why I like her. But there's more to it than that. People don't like her because of the above reasons, and because she tried to keep Ash away from Meghan. She taught him that love is the worst thing, that you shouldn't love. People think it's because she's just a mean, cruel person. But did you ever think it was because she was trying to protect him?  That maybe she was burned by love in the past, and she loves Ash too much to see him be hurt in the same way. Maybe her love for him is kinda convoluted and hard to see, but it's there. Her mother instincts are there, and they love him, and they want to protect him. 

So you people can call Mab cruel and mean and awful and evil. But I think she's just a woman doing what she can to survive in a crazy world. 

*To read more about what Mab's past was like, you can read a fanfiction I wrote here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Book Review: The Catastrophic History of You and Me, by Jess Rothenberg

Title: The Catastrophic History of You and Me
Series/Sequel? No
Author: Jess Rothenberg
Genre(s): Romance, Hard topics
Age Level:YA
Page Count:375 (Hardcover)
Perspective: First person (female)
Summary: Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.

BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

Review: Books about death - and the afterlife - are very interesting, but they are often hit-or-miss. This was definitely a hit.

First off was the voice. Rothenberg managed to create a character with a funny, enjoyable voice who had just the right measure of funniness that she seemed like a typical high school girl, but wasn't cliched, shallow, or just pathetic. Brie dying of a broken heart could have easily made her seem all three, but Rothenberg managed to have such a cause of death be believeable and stir our sympathies, instead of our disbelief. Adding Brie's preexisting heart condition and the fact that her father was a cardiologist, and Brie dying of a broken heart was absolutely perfect.

There were three subsets of supporting characters in this book, and each subset was beautifully realistic and relateable:

Brie's best girl friends added a layer of supporting characters that all girls will be able to relate to: the absolute best friends that know you better than yourself, those that always have your back no matter what. In her friends, I could see some similarites in my own best friends, lending to their believeablility.

Brie's family was wonderful as well: even if they're a little to-good-to-be-true at first, they are ultimately a believeable, well-written family.

And then, of course, we come to the boys. The characters that the book is really formed around. And of course, you can't mention the boys without mentioning the title. Both Patrick and Jacob seem like believeable boys - maybe too-good-to-be true, but each had one major fault that made them human and made them more believeable. The title also changes because of the boys. At first, you think the title is referring to one thing, one pair's history, but then at the end you realize that the title is referring to a different thing completely. I find that really clever and intelligent and I applaud the author for being able to think of such a thing.

An amazing, wonderful book. Put this one at the top of your 'to-read' list!



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