Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Plagued: The Rock Island Zombie Counteractant Experiment (Plagued States of America, #2) by Better Hero Army

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This review was written by: B and C
Received: Free e-book from author in exchange for an honest review (we would love to give a huge thank you to Better Hero Army!)
Publication Date of Book: March 25, 2014
Pages: 188
Stars: 5/5

"What do you need me to do?” he had asked Kennedy. She hadn’t given him an answer, at least not a good one. She smiled and finished her drink before telling him she would be in touch, that she had to talk it over with the Senator, and that he should just keep doing what he was doing.

“What am I doing?” Mason asked.

“Blending in,” she had told him.

-Plagued: The Rock Island Zombie Counteractant Experiment

With six months left to serve, Lieutenant Mason Jones pulls the dreaded red card.   Being assigned to Moaning Coast's defensive duty at the Rock Island Prison Defense Facility isn't exactly the ideal placement for any given person, especially if you have the graveyard shift.  However, Mason doesn't have much of a choice after what happened in Egypt.  He has to take it.  Of course, Mason is not your typical all brawn and no brains type of guy.  He possesses high qualifications due to him being a medic, having expertise skills in hand-to-hand combat, plus experience in combat duty.  He's even a Ranger.  However, why would someone like that be given a red card?  You only receive one if you have caused trouble before and need a place to go as punishment.  It's a last resort.  Mason doesn't seem like that type of guy.

It's been ten years since the zombie outbreak ravaged the lands.  They're used in slave trading and some are held at the previously said Rock Island Prison Defense Facility.  Hundreds are placed here, originally for studying purposes.  Mason's job is to assist in cleaning out their "cells."  This occupation is, as some might describe it, hazardous.  One nibble from a biter and you're most likely a goner.  Intimidation and danger lurks around every corner.  Assigned to work with Matty, an eight year Navy Seal, their first night on the job together is not a good one...

What everyone fails to realize is that a Senator contacted Mason before his arrival to this forsaken place.  The Senator talked about ending the zombie plague, a near impossible task in everyone's eyes, and he needs Mason's help to do it.  What does he want with Mason?  What is Mason's new role supposed to mean or even do to help the Senator?  What happened in Egypt?  Read Plagued: The Rock Island Zombie Counteractant Experiment to find out!            

“Hardest thing to do is stare at freedom all day knowing you aren’t allowed to go near it.”
-Chavez

Whoever said that sequels never live up to the first book has obviously never read the Plagued States of America series! Better Hero Army definitely surprised us with this book!  We loved it even more than Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment.  This was largely due to Mason himself.  His character is ultimately our favorite out of the two books we've read thus far.  Even though this book is rather short compared to others we have read, we found ourselves understanding the characters very well and falling back into this world with ease.  He's smart, courageous, and daring.  Plus, while he was tough as tough can be, he also had a secret and sadness within him.  It was not a stretch to care for him.  All in all, we were not disappointed with Beter Hero Army's work to say the least.

One of our favorite aspects to this novel was its pace.  Once I (B) reached the middle, I had to sit down and read the rest without any interruptions.  The nonstop action that ensued was enthralling and packed with great writing and other noteworthy elements as well.  There was intrigue, mystery, suspicion, and, of course, zombies!  These are great combinations for sure!

It's only been one month after the fiasco at Biter's Hill took place from the first installment, and for this we were grateful.  A continuation of the story through a new character's eyes was surely welcomed.  The world building was once again excellently done, and the twists and turns that occurred were definitely not expected and unpredictable from the start.  We particularly enjoyed the flashbacks and italicized parts in the story that relayed important information about the characters.  We've already excitedly began the third book, and can't wait to see where we're taken next!  We're sure not to be disappointed.                                                          

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The Case of the Missing Moonstone (The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book 1) by Jordan Stratford


This review was written by: B
Received: Free ARC from contest
Publication Date of Book: January 6, 2015
Pages: 240
Stars: 4.5/5 

Ada is a peculiar girl.  Her intelligence is spectacular for her age, and the inventions that she conjures out of her own ingenuity are breathtaking.  However, despite being the smartest child I have ever read about, her people skills leave little to be desired.  Whatever she is thinking pops right out of her mouth even if it is rude or curt.  With her late father obviously not a part of her life, a mother who is constantly away from home for months, a silent butler, two maids whose names always escape her mind, and a dear governess ripped away, Ada is not extremely friendly.  The addition of the odd Mr. Snagsby, the tutor (also called Peebs by Ada) hired to replace the governess, and a girl named Mary who is to study with her, makes Ada even more upset.

However, despite Miss Ada's less than warm disposition, Mary befriends this younger girl and together, under certain circumstances,  they decide to put their brains to use and become detectives in their own secret agency known as the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency.  While Mary is not too picky about who they help, Ada pours over the letters from those who send pleas of help to them in hope of their assistance (even though the letter writers believe these so called detectives to be more than just children).  Finally, she comes to just the right case.  Rebecca has recently turned sixteen years old.  Her late uncle left her a necklace in his will that was to be given to her on this birthday, a beautiful pendant that is shaped like an acorn.  During the night of her coming-out party, the priceless gift was stolen soon after it was gifted to her.  The maid Rosie confessed to the thievery, but Rebecca knows that she is innocent.  It is now up to Mary and Ada to discover the true culprit and why Rosie lied about the crime before time runs out and the pendant is lost to their client forever.

My thoughts on the book:
The Case of the Missing Moonstone was a pleasantly enjoyable  read.  I ended up loving it and flipping through the book in practically one sitting.  Ada was so fun to listen to and read about!  She was truly unique.  While she began as a closed off individual, her journey to try and start to open up in this first installment (in what will undoubtedly be an amazing series) was cute and heartwarming at the same time.  Her dialogue and nickname Peebs made me smile over and over again. The whole thing was honestly charming.

The historical aspect to this book was definitely captivating and a huge plus for me.  Ada Lovelace is credited for being the world's first computer programmer while Mary Shelley is the author of Frankenstein.  When these two collided in this fascinating work of fiction, I instantly fell in love with them.  Sure, I realize that it's not perfectly historically accurate, and that's what makes the story so captivating.  It's an earnest book based on two strong and amazing girls, even if the facts aren't perfectly on the dot.  Bringing these two together was a brilliant idea.  The characters immediately came to life.  Middle graders will love this dynamic duo.  In fact, people of all ages can take something away from Stratford's work.  (I did anyway!)

I personally have so much respect for The Case of the Missing Moonstone.  It promotes an interest in history, young girls achieving whatever they want even if society isn't ready for it, doing what you believe in, and friendship.  Plus, at the end of the novel, there is a section for what really happened to the historical figures mentioned throughout the book during their actual lives so you can see the changes made by Jordan Stratford.  Kelly Murphy even illustrated beautiful pictures that were nicely dispersed amongst the pages.  What more can one possibly ask for?

The only reason that I took off a half star was because sometimes a fact would be stated and then the character would voice that fact right after it was stated.  This threw me off for a minute while reading because of its repetitiveness, but this only happened a few times.  I still highly recommend this book!  

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Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

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This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Date of Publication: July 15, 2014
Pages: 208
Stars: 4.5/5

"It's cold where I am and so lonely, but in loneliness I will remain, unloved, unavenged, and forgotten, until I am whole once again."
        -A Lady's Hands are Cold (Through the  
          Woods by Emily Carroll)

Through the Woods is a graphic novel littered with a collection of five short, spine-tingling stories.  Emily Carroll was able to create an equally disturbing yet equally breathtaking creation that made me want to keep the lights on all night long for days after finishing this great read.  The artwork was stunning and mortifying to the point where it fit the stories perfectly.  The black colored theme incorporated throughout a lot of the stories also created an atmosphere of darkness that surrounded me wherever I looked.

I don't want to go into details about the stories in fear that I will ruin the entire thing for you, but I will say that I was deeply disturbed after reading this book.  There are ghosts, creatures that cannot possibly be named for I have no words to describe them, deaths, murders, lies, deceit, despair, and a boarding on insanity suspense factor that wouldn't let me put down this book even if I had wanted to.  Lights are definitely necessary when reading Through the Woods unless you are brave enough to flip through this in the dark!  Family members disappear one by one, a husband has a sick and sinister history hidden from his new wife, the dead come back to life, a girl claims she can communicate with the deceased, and a terrifying creature comes from the woods....the strangeness continues on.

The only thing that I will say about these stories, though, is that a lot of them are open ended.  For some reason, I'm always bothered by these non-conclusions!  I want definite facts and endings that will officially bring closure to a piece even if they are horrible.  Mysterious closings are hard to handle because you have to decide for yourself the true meaning behind what happened which basically says that I may never know what actually took place.  Of course, I can easily see that this was purposeful for a further scare factor which I definitely respect.  But still... I prefer closure or else I go crazy!

Through the Woods was a great yet quick read that grabbed my attention from the first page.  I actually ended up reading a couple of the stories multiple times because I just couldn't get over them!  So, are you brave enough to walk through the woods and encounter what waits for you in the deep, dark blackness?

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Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians, #1) by William Joyce

10886703This book was reviewed by: C
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: October 4, 2011
Pages: 228
Stars: 4/5

“The possibilities were endless. Battles would be
fought. Wonders revealed. Many journeys. Many lands. Many joys. Many sorrows." -William Joyce, Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians,#1)

In the center of a large forest, protected by a spirit that tempts trespassers with glittering jewels, and guarded by a ferocious bear that stalks the shadows, lies the hidden village of Santoff Claussen. This strange place is hidden from the world and is home to an odd group of individuals, including families with children that are capable of speaking to insects and an old wizard from Atlantis, Ombric Shalazar, who is able to perform amazing magical feats. Deep within the shadows an evil stirs, an evil that is both ancient and terrifying. Pitch, the Nightmare King, and his Fearlings have awoken and Ombric cannot defeat them on his own. He needs the help of a brave warrior, who may not know just how special he is. This is where Nicholas St. North enters the picture. A bandit who knows the way of the sword is the only one with the power to help save Santoff Claussen and destroy Pitch once and for all. The only problem, however, is getting North on their side. North loves adventure and is soon lured to the illusive village. His men all easily fall to the traps that protect the people and North is the only one who enters Santoff Claussen. This one man is pure of heart and becomes Ombric's apprentice. North begins to display some interesting talents and builds a creature unlike any other, a mechanical djinni. This creation may be his undoing, as Pitch will use anything to rid the world of Nicholas St. North. Will North be able to defeat the Nightmare King or will his own handiwork be his undoing?

William Joyce has crafted a delightful children's story filled with adventure and inspiring characters. He removes all previous notions of how old St. Nick should be portrayed. North is nothing like the jolly, white-bearded, elderly gentleman that we often picture as Santa Claus. He has crafted North in such a way that he is seen as a warrior, but a warrior that still holds the desire to save children and their happiness within his heart. I love the fact that Joyce has created such interesting origins for famous holiday icons and beings that many children believe in. The series itself is a great concept and I cannot wait to read the stories of the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Sandman. I have to say that this series definitely piqued my interesting after I was able to see the movie The Rise of the Guardians. Both are severely dissimilar, but it's great to be able to see where the movie's inspiration arose. My only qualm with this book, however, would be the fact that it was not as in depth as I had hoped it would be. It is a Middle Grade novel, therefore the characters are not  as deep and the adventures are quite short. I wonder what the story would have been like if it had been a Young Adult novel?Overall, it was a great book and it head breathtaking illustrations!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Love (Play With My Hair, #1) by Douglas R.

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This review was written by: B
Received: Free E-book from the author
Publication Date of Book: December 2014
Pages: 192
Stars: 4.5/5


Myla is not like everyone else.  For one, she doesn't live on Earth, she's from Pandor, and secondly, she's a Lebra.  For Myla, yellow means warmth, but the color purple means death.  Being a Lebra is extremely important.  Her prestige leads to many things such as her having to possibly fight for her life!  She can't even see her family, including her little brother whom she has never met in person.  Then there is the fact that she can't have a relationship with anyone of the male species.  All of these things are distractions for her.  Distractions interfere with her training and her focus.  If she loses focus, she may die.  However, these rules do not make or break her.  She still finds ways to communicate on rare occasions with her family, and she might have even found herself a boyfriend!  You see, there's this big evil out in space, almost like a brain, that needs someone like Myla to inhabit so that it can become unstoppable.  Myla has gifts, and she's growing into them everyday.  Perhaps these powers are what led to her finding Blake.

One night, asleep in her bed, Myla dreams of a boy unlike any she has known.  His name's Blake, and he can't be real.  However, they both insist that they are in each others' dreams.  Who's real and who's not?  To settle this once and for all, the two give each other something of their own that have an almost personal value to them.  Myla is given Blake's iPod Touch.  When she wakes up, it's sitting there in her hands.  Now, that's pretty insane!  Falling asleep the next night, they meet again.  Can a relationship like this be possible, star crossed lovers even?  Blake's from Alaska, all the way on Earth while Myla's from Pandor.  It can't happen, but love can do strange things to a person.  If Myla hopes to have a relationship, she must save herself and him at the same time.

Love was a surprisingly captivating read!  I fell into it much harder than I thought I would.  A major reason for this was due to how much music played a part into this book.  Music is a huge part of my life and so many others.  It can influence your mood, sway you to feel a certain way, change the tone, and make emotions surface that you weren't even expecting.  I feel like this book demonstrated these concepts perfectly.  Music is freedom to be whoever you want to be whenever you want to be it.  It's a connection that links us all.  The fact that Blake cared so deeply about music and that Myla changes her outlook on her life, even if it's only to a certain extent due to her first experience with music, is quite powerful.

The relationship between Myla and Blake was also interesting to see unfold.  While she is certain of her feelings towards him, he is more hesitant to recognize what is going on inside of him.  However, the top two most favorite relationships that I read about was between Myla and her trainer Rhiannon along with the friendship between Blake and one of his best friends Sherri.  Each group showed true and tangible emotions towards each other to the point where I didn't feel like I was just reading a book.  They were earnest, and I was really jealous of what they had!  It was an intimacy that wasn't love but rather a desire to make each other happy and to protect what they had, and this was definitely the best part of Love.

Douglas R also wrote about the  issue of wanting to be yourself instead of hiding behind closed doors or trying to please everyone.  Myla was like a caged bird, as noted in the book.  The metaphors with this were really beautiful, and how her character is currently breaking free is wonderfully challenged.  The struggle to shine her true colors is written with perfection and brought to light something that I feel a lot of people struggle with, including myself.

The only reason that I gave it 4.5 stars was because at a couple of scenes, I felt like the wording was slightly awkward.  (For instance, Myla liked to call Blake "Baby" quite a bit more than I thought she would.  I didn't really have a problem with this too much, but maybe that's just me.)  Also, it seemed like it was really easy for Blake to convince his two best friends of this girl in his dreams and how she was real.  However, I believe that the closeness demonstrated between Blake, Sherri, and Matty made up for this because it made me feel like they could tell each other anything.

Overall, I definitely recommend that you give this book a shot.  I really want to read the next one in the series!          

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Beasties by William Sleator

book cover of 

The Beasties 

This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: October 1997
Pages: 208 (paperback version)
Stars: 2.75/5


Colette had already stepped off the wooden platform and was shining the flashlight down the slightly curving dirt tunnel.  Roots crawled and twisted over the walls and floor.  The tunnel was very narrow and had a low ceiling.  Colette had to crouch, and I had to bend almost double when I followed her off the platform into the tunnel, trying not to trip over the roots.  A full-grown adult would have had to crawl.  This place was not built for people.
-The Beasties

Doug and his family are about to be uprooted from their city life to go and live in the middle of nowhere, smack dab in the center of severe country life where neighbors are few and far between.  Doug's father is a botanist who wants to study a special type of fungus that can only be found in a this particular area, and with the woods being cut down by loggers at an alarming pace, he only has a short window of time to accomplish this.  On the other hand, his mother wants to get into painting new things (in this case that's nature).  However, the children are not too hyped up about this new development, especially after what crazy Al told Doug and his little sister, Colette.  Al said that it was of utmost importance that the family refrains from living in an old home and to steer clear of the woods located behind old homes.  That's where the supposed Beasties live...

Doug doesn't take Al too seriously, but once he nears his new home, he notices strange things.  People are moving about in the area, but they have missing limbs.  A person in Al's family also has a missing arm and leg, just like everyone else there.  What's this mean?  Then, as soon as they arrive at their new house, Doug finds out that it is not only old, but it is also placed by the woods.  Soon enough, Colette and her brother find a baseball bat and a book randomly sitting out in the middle of the yard, just waiting for the siblings to pick them up.  Doug's actually a huge baseball player and Colette is an avid reader who believes that she can learn more from books than she can from real live people.  However, these gifts do not bode well with Doug.  Who could have known about their favorite pastimes?  The bat's brand new.  Why were they left there?  Something's obviously not right here.

Soon Doug discovers that the woman who helps to take care of the house and makes meals for them wears a mask.  She says that she hurt her nose in an accident.  Why does everyone have missing body parts?  To make matters worse, Colette wants to go into the woods behind the old house against Doug's protests.  Not wanting his sister to go alone, he follows her into the darkened forest where they find a mysterious trapdoor that leads down into the ground.  Who would have placed that there?

Going down into it, the siblings discover a deep and dark secret.  They just found the home of the dreaded and rumored Beasties...

WARNING: SPOILERS ARE REVEALED WHILE I DISCUSS MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK!

I'll be honest, I have very mixed feelings about The Beasties as you can probably guess by my rating. For me it wasn't quite a three star novel, but at the same time, I felt like it deserved a little more than a two star rating.  So, here we have a 2.75 rating rounded to a three for the sake of displaying stars!  Yep.  I'm indecisive.

I really enjoyed the story and the themes within it.  The reader gets to see how it is extremely important to take care of the environment.  I totally agree with this, but I think that the book had a strange way of trying to justify fighting back for nature.  For one, the Beasties are harmed when the surrounding forest, their home, is being destroyed and cut down piece by piece.  These creatures then contract a disease that messes with their body, making some creatures born without an arm, leg, or any other appendage that you can think of.  The Beasties' queen is  also dying.  She is the only one who can have children, and all of her litters are dying along with her.  This obviously presents a problem for their race.

To compensate for the current deforestation and their lost limbs, Beasties raid logging sites and take humans, cutting off various appendages and attaching them to themselves.  Weird, I know.  It's equally creepy and mortifying.  However, this is really what this story is all about: horror.  Colette immediately goes along with the Beasties and fights for them amongst their ranks, but Doug is torn between turning away from their gruesome ways or choosing to support them.  Which way will he choose?  Well, (HUGE SPOILER HERE) he chooses to go along with the Beasties in the end.  In his mind he sees things as if, while they do take body parts from humans, they only take one or two.  This leaves their victims still able to live and function, unlike the Beasties who have to contend with a dying forest and race.  Okay, so what is with that logic?  I don't understand how he could possibly be okay with the Beasties and defend them!  Aren't the lumber jack guys and the Beasties both in the wrong??!!!  I just...I don't...understanding is not going on here.  My brain does not think like that.

Then we have Colette and her admirable love for reading.  She has a deep passion for literature.  However, her father kept talking about how he couldn't fathom how his own daughter could just sit around with her nose stuck in a book.  He kept telling her to close the book and go out into the woods.  Do something, anything but read.  Hmm...discouraging a child from reading?!  Oh, that was the true horror here.  I wanted to rip this man from the pages so I could give him a lecture on how it's okay to let your child read.  Let them be adamant about it and support them!  Oh, my heart just broke.

The Beasties also didn't sit well with me for one more reason.  In the beginning, I was definitely scared and horrified.  That's why I picked up this book from the YA section at the library after all.  However, after they found the trapdoor leading down to the Beasties' home and explored it, I felt like it lost its fear factor rather fast.  One minute there's YA horror going down and then a little more of a Middle Grade feeling set in for the rest of the novel.  Maybe this was just me.  I lost a tad bit of interest in it.  So, I would recommend this to higher Middle Grade or lower YA readers because there is some violence, but there is also a MG vibe to it.

Overall, it was a nice, quick, and easy read, but I think that the length was what created the problem for me.  I was not convinced at all in Doug's choice or that the Beasties were less in the wrong.  There were some great themes in here, though.  It gives the book a tone of what it means to take a step back and realize what you are doing to the earth.  We have to think of the bigger picture.  So, there was a great message, a nice splash of horror, but problems that kept me from totally enjoying The Beasties.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

December Topic of the Month: CHRISTMAS

Christmas!
Check out our Topic of the Month page for some fun Christmas reads!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

(November 2014) Topic of the Month: Ghosts

GHOSTS


November's Topic of the Month is officially Ghosts! Check out some of these haunting reads!

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Read by F and H
Here is the GoodReads summary of the book: Callum Blackwell thinks his life can't get any worse.  But he's wrong. Callum is haunted by the dead. The only thing that keeps them away is a diary he has found in the basement of his house. After he moves to a godforsaken town of Olden Cross, the haunting stops. But one day Callum and his friend, Nathan, find something terrible. And then the dead reappear. Callum's existence turns into a living hell. Boys and girls Callum's age start disappearing, and when Callum least expects it, his diary goes missing.

Read by B, C, and H
Here is the Amazon summary of the book: Jack is not a normal boy. He can talk to ghosts. In his new home, an aging farmhouse, he meets the Ghost Mother, a grief-stricken spirit who becomes very attached to him...too attached. He learns that the Ghost Mother is preying in the cruelest imaginable way on four child ghosts who are trapped in the house, stealing their energy to sustain her own. Before Jack can figure out how to help them, the Ghost Mother takes possession of his real mother's body. Jack wants to fight back, but he has severe asthma and risks fatal attacks with any physical exertion. It will take all his resources to fight off the Ghost Mother and save the ghost children from a horrible fate.

11415846
Here is the GoodReads summary of the book: When Elliot and his brother move into the old and crumbling Glebe House they don't expect to find themselves sharing it with ghosts. But soon sinister events are unfolding. An old diary reveals glimpses of the mansion's past - and of a terrible tragedy. An old woman talks to ghosts - but is she in fact being controlled by them? And what of the sinister East Wing - a hideous labyrinth devised by a truly twisted mind? Can Elliott and his family escape the clutches of Glebe House? Or will they end up trapped in the endless maze of corridors, forever hunted by the dead?

2294984
Read by B
Here is the GoodReads summary of the book: Travis and his sister, Corey, can't resist a good trick - so when they learn that their grandmother's sleepy Vermont inn has a history of ghost sightings, they decide a little "haunting" of their own. Scaring the guests proves to be great fun, and before long, the inn is filled with tourists and ghost hunters eager for a glimpse of the supernatural. But Travis and Corey soon find out that they aren't the only ghosts at Fox Hill In. Their thoughtless games have awakened something dangerous, something that should have stayed asleep. Restless, spiteful spirits swarm the inn, while a dark and terrifying presence stalks the halls and the old oak grove on the inn's grounds. To lay the ghosts at rest, Travis and Corey must first discover the dark history of Fox Hill and the horrors visited on its inhabitants years earlier.

1223606
Read by H, C, and B
Here is the GoodReads summary of the book: The time is 1872. The place is New York City. Horace Carpetine has been raised to believe in science and rationality. So as apprentice to Enoch Middleditch, a society photographer, he thinks of his trade as scientific art. But when wealthy society matron Mrs. Frederick Von Macht orders a photographic portrait, strange things begin to happen. Horace's first real photographs reveal a frightful likeness: it's the image of the Von Macht's dead daughter, Eleanora. Pegg, the Von Macht's black servant girl, then leads him to the truth about who Eleanora really was and how she actually died. Joined in friendship, Pegg and Horace soon realize that his photographs are evoking both Eleanora's image and her ghost. Eleanora returns, a vengeful wraith intent on punishing those who abused her.

2213661
Read by: C
Here is the GoodReads summary of the book: After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living note the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack-who has already killed Bod's family.

22963441
Here is the GoodReads summary of the book: Doug Mitchell's daughter, Janie, has a new imaginary friend...who wants Doug to leave his house. After being awoken by strange sounds night after night, Doug realizes his daughter's imaginary friend might be something paranormal. In his pursuit of answers, Doug exhumes entails about the history of their property, including a possible reason for the spirit's presence. After a near-catastrophic injury to his wife, and a shocking revelation from Janie, Doug learns this spirit doesn't want Doug to leave-it wants young Janie for itself. As the paranormal power increases and Janie's will to resist the spirit's advances weakens, Doug must fight for the safety of his entire family.

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Here is the GoodReads summary of the book: In the scorching summer of 1976, the hottest since records began, Christopher Norton, his wife, Laura, and their young daughter, Faye, settle into their new home in north London. The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of  the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices. For Norton, the voices mark an exciting opportunity. Putting his work to one side, he begins the project of a lifetime, a grand symphony incorporating the voices and becomes increasingly obsessed with one voice in particular. Someone who is determined to make themselves heard.

1910949
Read by: B
Here is the GoodReads summary of the book:  Zack, his dad, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father's hometown, not knowing that their new house has a dark history.  Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took 40 innocent lives.  He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since.  During a huge storm, lightning hits a tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn't over...and Zack is directly in his sights.

9311505
Read by: C
Here is the GoodReads summary of the book: Could the road to the afterlife be a two-way street?  Derek Stone just turned fourteen.  He's lived in New Orleans with his dad and older brother, Ronny, his whole life.  He's a little overweight.  He can't hear well out of his left ear.  Oh, and he's on the run from the dead.  Derek never imagined that the dead could be anything but dead.  But there's no denying it.  They're back-and they're after him.  He just doesn't know why.  And he doesn't have long to figure it out.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Death Note, Vol. 1: Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba

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This review was written by: B
Received: Library
Publication Date of Book: January 2001
Pages: 195
Stars: 5/5

The human whose name is written in this note shall die.
 -Death Note

Shimigami are death gods who have the ability to end a person's life early.  All they have to do is write down the human's name into their Death Note, and their subject dies within forty seconds of a heart attack, unless otherwise specified.  If the person was supposed to live until they were sixty years old but the death god transcribed their name into their Death Note when they were only forty years old, the god gets the remaining twenty years of the human's life for themselves.  This in turn allows Shinigami to live forever if they keep continuing the previously described process.  If someone shoots them, they will still live. If stabbed, the god will carry on as if nothing really happened because they have so many years built up.  However, there is a way to kill one of these frightening creatures, but only several know of it and barely any death gods have the knowledge of it either.  With years of life stocking up for them, the Shinigami have become lazy beings, sitting around and doing absolutely nothing.

One death god is different, though.  His name is Ryuk, and he has become bored.  To relieve his so called "boredom," he drops his Death Note into the human world where he hopes someone will pick it up and give him a show to watch.  As luck would have it, someone does pick it up, Light.  Light is not your typical high school student.  In fact, he has above average intelligence and a driving desire for the world to be set right.  Actually, they both describes themselves as "bored."  Once he finds the Death Note, he discovers instructions inside on how to use it, what it does, and just what will happen if he writes someone's name down.  At first it seems like a hoax, something like this can't be real after all.  However, the Death Note has an alluring quality to it that drives a person to use it.  So, against Light's trepidation, he goes ahead and writes a criminal's name down because he has just seen them on television.  Almost immediately, he discovers that they turned up dead.  It works.

Now Light goes on a rampage, believing that it is his duty to rid the world of all those he deems to be scum.  These are top level criminals that he's eliminating.  Tons of names are written down, and he believes that if these men who are condemned to death by his hand are being killed and talked about on the news, then everyone else will be too afraid to sin, therefore creating an eventual utopia that he can dictate.  Also, once he wrote his first name in the book, Ryuk suddenly appeared.  (Once a human uses a Shinigami's Death Note, they can see them.)  Ryuk then reveals that a human user of a Death Note can neither go to Heaven or to Hell after death.  This does not stop Light though.

Soon the police take notice of all of the dying criminals.  They start an investigation to stop whoever is behind all of these sudden deaths, but how can you catch someone when all you have to go on is heart attacks as evidence?  Quite frankly it seems impossible...until they call in L.  L is a last resort for the authorities. He has been known to solve any case given to him.  He's quite illusive, though.  Only one person alive can contact him. Also, L is a very smart cookie.  Together, Light and L go head to head indirectly, trying to outsmart each other and divert their true identities.  Neither can be found out or they will die by each other's hand or forces.  And so begins the journey that all started out of a little bit of boredom....


My thoughts on the book:

I'll be honest, I was really excited to read this manga.  I know that tons of people loved the anime (at least up to a certain point.)  So, when I got it from the library I immediately started to read it.  However, after a short while I wasn't so sure that I wanted to finish it.  It was weird, creepy, and definitely an "out there" type of book.  Plus, I can say that it is absolutely on the list of my top five weirdest books that I have ever read, and this list extends to manga, comic books, and novels.  It definitely tops most of them.  I'm really glad that I stuck with it though because it just became addictive.  I had to know what L would come up with next to try and decide where the killer was located and who he was.  It's brilliant how L and Light try to go up against each other without revealing their true identities.  These two characters were really interesting to read out, and I'm excited to see more of them.  They are pitted perfectly against each other as equally worthy opponents.  Everything is so clever and exciting.  Death Note is a very creative series.

The Shinigami are super creepy looking.  The whole entire ambiance of this book is also really dark, and the illustrations are beautiful, descriptive, and truly well done.  The only thing I will say though is that, while the Shinigami were grotesque and stange looking, it was almost like Ryuk had no change in emotion shown on his face throughout the whole manga.  For me, that was a small let down because the illustrations tell so much of the story and really convince me of the storyline.  (He did have a couple of different expressions going on a few times, though.)

Death Note is your classic series with a new twist that brings to light the question: What is truly wrong, and what is truly right?  For example, is it moral to get rid of a criminal if they killed people and were going to do it again?  What if they were going to be put on death row?  Light believes that you should just eliminate those who can harm humanity because they will ruin all of the good around them.  However, if you take L's stance in his opposite perspective, you would have something  completely different.  Isn't killing bad no matter who is doing it, despite their reasons?  Murder is murder, isn't it?  Both of these points were explored fairly well in volume one, and  I hope to see more of it as I go through the series.  In Volume 1: Boredom, the reader can decide which stance to take because Tsugumi Ohba does a great job of not taking a side or making it clear which way you should sway.  It's all up to you!

So, if you're a hardcore manga lover, this is definitely for you if you haven't read it yet.  If you want to get into the genre, this might be a good place to start as long as you don't mind creepy!

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Thursday, November 27, 2014