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Review of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Vol. 5.

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For the honour of Grayskull!

I have been patiently reading DC’s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe graphic novel series in the hope that She-ra would have to show up eventually and I was not disappointed.  I absolutely loved the recently released volume 5: The Blood of Grayskull, in which She-ra (and Swift Wind!) makes her first appearance of the series.  Although Adora first appears in #3, and again briefly at the end of #4, this story focuses on her journey to becoming She-ra.
This graphic novel is definitely more sophisticated than the cartoon I watched as a child, but there are some very familiar echoes.  Adora is more traumatized from her time with the Horde and realization of what she did in the name of Hordak.  After a brief flash back to set up the story, the main plot begins at Adora’s campsite – motivated by guilt to be alone, yet determined to fight Hordak any way that she can. He-Man makes an appearance with a message from the sorceress and the pair soon start out on their quest.  In turns, she is mission-focused military tactician (at one point He-Man has to convince her to rescue some prisoners which she has ignored in order not to give them away), healer, animal lover and He-Man’s equal in battle. Ultimately her first transition into She-ra is motivated by her love for Adam.  She is portrayed as a compassionate warrior, a role model for any woman.
If you were a fan in the 80s, it is familiar enough to connect to with the added benefit of some really beautiful artwork.  And although I’m obviously biased, it really is one of my favourite covers ever.  I enjoyed this one so much I am anxiously awaiting Dan Abnett’s next release: He-Man: The Eternity War, due out next month.
Melissa

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I Will!

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In a world where young adult romance has actually spawned a genre called “sick-lit” (thanks for that, The Fault in Our Stars), thank the literary deities for Say You Will.

This is a book that I have no reservations handing over to even a younger teen (my own daughter, for example), and it is fully readable by boys as well.

I first heard about the book last fall, from Eric Walters himself – he was really excited about the book, and the whole idea of “promposals” – which I had never heard of.  A promposal is an elaborate, public invite to the prom – like it wasn’t laden with enough pressure to begin with.  The protagonist, Sam, is a boy with a very high IQ who is only just starting to get the hang of social interaction, who wants to create the perfect promposal for the girl of his dreams.  I can’t tell you much, because it will ruin the story, however Walters not only tells a sweet love story but also makes sure to puncture as many tropes and preconceptions along the way as possible.  Highly recommend this.

I now digress from this review to make a point that has been bothering me.  As was brought up very eloquently in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, boys are often steered away from books that either have female protagonists, or that might be classified as romance.  GIRLS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES WHO LIKE ROMANCE.  I have a couple of male customers at my store who are die-hard Harlequin lovers, and know many men, including my husband, who are fond of a good love story.  (In fact, a great romantic night in can be a bottle of wine and taking turns reading The Notebook) Even books like The Hunger Games, or Divergent, I have seen parents steer away from because a female is the star, so of course their son won’t want to read it.  Thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy;  Clearly there must be something wrong with a boy reading a book starring a girl, or with a guy reading a love story – so he will never pick one up.  This is dumb. Boys can empathize with a girl main character, and you’re selling them short by assuming they won’t.  Boys dream of being the star of their own epic love story too, and Say You Will is a great one.

Christie

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Riyria Addiction

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Part David Eddings’ Elenium trilogy, part Princess Bride, all addictive.  Funny, gripping, edge of your seat adventure. I’m on book 3 of Michael J. Sullivan’s fantasy trilogy, and this is as much as I’m going to write so I can get back to it.  Almost called in sick to work.  Seriously.

Christie

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The Bear

I had two reviews submitted for this book on the same day, both by people who don’t tend to read this kind of story.  I am going to post both of them, because they are both really interesting perspectives.  My conclusion?  I will read this book, while holding my children, with all the lights on.  And try not to think about it the next time I go camping with my kids in Algonquin.

Merilyn’s review:

I did not want to read this book. The Author’s Note made it clear that this was no warm, fuzzy anthropomorphic bear-meets-person tale. It was fiction, but based on a true story. So, I did not want to read this book, but I glanced at the first couple of pages and found it riveting.

It is told in the voice of a young girl, almost six years old. Like a typical six-year-old, the narrative is a stream of consciousness, sometimes linear, sometimes darting backwards or sideways as something catches its fancy. The author inserts enough information for the naïve and innocent child to pass on the most chilling facts while not understanding completely what is happening. The juxtaposition of brutal violence with childlike self-centredness is deeply unsettling.

Once I started, I could not release the book’s grip on me, even though I felt like hiding behind my couch for the whole time it took me to read it. The author made me feel how Anna, the little girl, must have felt.

I cannot say I am glad that I read The Bear, but I have it inside me now, like the black dog in the book.

Brrr!

Merilyn

Melissa’s review:

The Bear by Canadian author Claire Cameron is the story of five year old Anna and her two year old brother Alex as they struggle for survival in Algonquin Provincial Park after their parents are killed by a bear.  The story is narrated by Anna, and while this sometimes means that it can be difficult to figure out what she’s talking about (for example she mentions bubbles on her legs, which turns out to be a rash from poison ivy), it creates a unique perspective that sets this novel apart.
The story begins with the family camping near lake Opeongo, reunited after a brief separation of the parents.  Anna is awoken by her mother’s screams and her father desperately pulling her out of the tent and throwing her and her brother in the family’s large cooler.  From the children’s perspective the attack consists of a black nose and claws as seen through an air gap in the cooler, and when they emerge the next morning their mother is lying in the grass, barely alive, and their father is nowhere to be seen. The mother tells Anna that she must take her brother and leave in the canoe, and so the children depart the camp thinking that their parents will follow later.  Due to her age, Anna doesn’t understand the danger of the situation; from her perspective it was a dog in the campsite, not a bear, her mother is too tired to move rather than mortally wounded and her father has left because he is angry with her.
Here is where the real heart wrenching story begins as two small children fight for survival as best as they can and how in the aftermath Anna comes to terms with what has happened.  I have nothing but praise for Claire Cameron, who didn’t rely on the horror of the initial attack to drive the story but created this wonderful character whose eyes we see through; we see her frustration with her little brother, trying to make her father proud so he won’t be angry with her anymore, her guilt for leaving her mother.  It all concludes with one of the best, most succinct endings I have ever read, with adult Anna returning to the site of the attack, finally able to let go of what happened to her family all those years before.
Once I started this novel it took precedence over food, sleep and most of my conscious thought.  It was an emotional roller coaster that was made all the more difficult for me because I have a niece and nephew close to the ages of Anna and Alex.  I haven’t been this affected by a novel in a long time and I whole heartedly recommend it.
Melissa

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Teen Tuesday: Graceling

I’ve been eyeing Graceling by Kristin Cashore for a while, because I love the cover.  I finally got around to picking it up yesterday, and it was definitely worth the read.  The premise is that in the world of Graceling, there are individuals with what are called “graces”, skills of supernatural intensity. The skills can be anything from cooking to fighting to climbing trees, and the individuals who possess them are identifiable by having eyes of two different colours.  Gracelings can be useful, but are also feared and generally friendless. Katsa, whose grace is killing, is feared more than most, and is also struggling with her role as an unwilling assassin for her uncle, the king.

What the book is really about is realizing that you don’t have to let others define you – you can define yourself.  That you have more power than you think.  Also it is about really awesome fighting sequences, and kicking evil butt.

The writing is good, the romance is unconventional, and the villain even more so.  Highly recommended for fantasy fans of all ages, I will be picking up the other two in the series immediately.  May cause a desire to learn martial arts.   Will likely cause missed bedtimes and ignoring of family members.  Bring food and drink with you, because you won’t be getting up for a while.

Happy reading!

Christie

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Angelology

This is not a romance novel.  I thought I’d get that out of the way right off the bat, before you judged the book by its cover (and title).  I realize that angels have mostly been showing up in either Doreen Virtue books or as the latest supernatural romance stars.  This book, although it features some romance, is a thriller more in the line of Tom Clancy than Sherrilyn Kenyon (not dissing Sherrilyn Kenyon, she’s awesome).  Fans of Dan Brown or Ludlum might enjoy this, if they don’t mind a little supernatural in their thriller.  Trussoni’s angels are nephilim – the resulting descendants of unions between fallen angels and human women.  These are not rosy-cheeked cherubs; they’re more like really pretty serial killers.

There is, of course an organization dedicated to defeating them – but there are lost artifacts to be found, conspiracies to be unraveled, and mysterious science to be uncovered.

There is a second novel, Angelopolis, which delves further into the storyline, and introduces Fabergé eggs into the story.  It’s a perfect addition because the intricacy and wonder of the eggs and the treasures found inside lend themselves perfectly to a hidden history, full of magic and mystery.  Russia is added to the story as a main setting, and everyone knows that dark conspiracies are around every corner in Russia.

Both books are perfect for summer reading, although you’ll find yourself startled that it is warm and sunny outside, instead of the grey and snowy world of the books.  Highly recommended.  I’ve heard there’s a potential movie in the works, which should be interesting.

Happy reading!

Christie

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Not your Granddaddy’s Cinderella

 

Thank you Marissa Meyer.  Thank you for not only exceeding my expectations, but making me completely forget I had expectations (or laundry to do).

The book is called Cinder.  There are definitely elements of the Cinderella story in there, but the heroine is a kick-butt mechanic, there are political implications, a deadly plague, and other fun stuff.  It’s the first book in a trilogy, of which the first two are out, so it’s not a quick wrap up for a happy ending story.  Fans of dystopian literature, like Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, or Divergent should enjoy this.  There is a romance, but it’s definitely not your stereotype fairy-tale one.   This girl is not waiting for a prince to rescue her – in fact, she might do the rescuing.

Technically it’s YA, but don’t miss it because of that.

Happy reading

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New Moon – A Guest Review by Nitharshana P.

Sometimes for a good idea of what a teen will think of a book, you need a teen review.  Nitharshana, a middle school student, has written the following review (which I love and agree with) of New Moon by Stephanie Meyer.  Take it away, Nitharshana…

I have read the book New Moon by Stephenie Meyer and I have to say that this was one of the oddest books I have ever read.

Stephenie Meyer has done an excellent job of writing the story.  Her writing was clear and I understood the story more than I thought I would.   However, the more I understood the story, the more I despised it.  The main reason for me not liking this book is the main character.  Bella Swan is the most idiotic character I have ever read.  I understand why she would risk her life for her beloved’s.  Doing multiple suicide missions just to feel her love’s presence is plain stupidity.  That is what Bella was doing for three quarters of the story.  Luckily, she had her werewolf friends to save her each time.  If I could, I would ask Meggie or Mo from Inkheart to read me into this book so I could tell Bella how much a life is worth.  I enjoy fantasy stories, but in this case where Bella’s boyfriend leaves her and she can not cope, I just couldn’t take the book seriously anymore.

 

Even though this book is not my cup of tea, people who enjoy supernatural characters and romance would actually have a good time reading this.  Also, if you can cope with psychotic characters this would be a great book for you.  I hope you find something better in this book than I did.

-Nitharshana P.

 

What she said.    If you want to know what the target audience thinks… ask the target audience.    Thanks N.P.!

Happy (or not) reading!

 

Christie

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The Keeper Chronicles and Why You Shouldn’t Drink and Read

Reasons to love Tanya Huff’s Keeper Chronicles trilogy: Hilariously funny, great light fantasy reading, Jerry Springer is literally from hell and lots of Buffy references.  I think I could be friends with this woman.

Tanya Huff is a successful sci-fi/fantasy writer who used to work in a bookstore, so she gives me hope.  Her stuff is wonderfully fun and offbeat, and she has a twisted sense of humour.

If you’re looking for pure escapism, I highly recommend her stuff.

 

Speaking of working in a bookstore, here are some highlights from the past week:

“Do you give dishcountsh to cushtomersh who have no money caush they shpent it on vodka?”

“Can I pay one cent in cash and the rest on debit?”

“Do you have anything I can buy that’s free?”

 

Happy reading!

Christie

 

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River of Stars – Post II

Mmm.  Reading River of Stars was like having a fantastic meal with good wine.  I feel replete.

Guy Gavriel Kay (GGK) seems to do that well.  He also almost always makes me want to visit the places his novels are set – he does such a beautiful job of describing them with an appreciative eye that you feel like booking a ticket to go see the real-world version that inspired them.  Right now.   Maybe we could organize a charter tour of locales?  Anyone else in?

Despite the fact that GGK insists that River of Stars is not the sequel to Under Heaven, I think you will enjoy it more having read Under Heaven first.  They are set in the same world, albeit a few hundred years later, and reference is made more than once to the events of Under Heaven as history.

Under Heaven was based on the Tang dynasty, which was a time of glittering society, ultimate artistry, the pinnacle of sophistication.  And then it fell.  River of Stars is an homage to that old cliche – those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it – but also a twist on it where you can cling to the past too tightly, so that you can’t go forward because you won’t let go.

Regular readers of Kay will see this as a recurring theme in his work, how the past, and history affect us, and how the past and history change over time, and things are forgotten, or purposely rewritten.  He seems to view poets and musicians as vital to both remembering and rewriting the past as well as changing the future – a recurring theme, and one I greatly enjoy.  It makes me feel a little subversive every time I read a book or listen to a song.

I’m not sure this is the GGK book I would start with, if you’ve never read his stuff before.  I would go with either Tigana or A Song for Arbonne, and go with Under Heaven and River of Stars after – he writes so differently from almost everyone else out there that you need to ease into it .  Kay writes beautifully, like Monroe or Shields, but with a can’t put down story, like… I don’t know, no one.  He’s not like anyone.  Cross a best-selling political thriller with poetry and you get Kay.

As always, I feel you can’t go wrong with GGK – I hope you enjoy his books as much as I do.

 

Happy reading!

Christie

 

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