The Savage by David Almond, illustrated by Dave McKean

Friday, November 21, 2008

isbn: 9780763639327

This book was beautiful, short and powerful. The story is told by Blue, who, being told to write down his feelings about his father's death, writes the story of the Savage instead, a boy who lives in a cave under an abandoned church and who kills anyone who sees him. The narrative is written a few years later, when his spelling has improved. The mistakes in the original story add to the roughness of the illustrations and of the story. It is absolutely dark but in the end redeeming. It was a bit short, but perhaps packs more of a punch that way.


We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

isbn: 978-0143039976

Shirley Jackson is the woman who wrote "The Lottery" and The Haunting of Hill House (which was bastardized in the movie version by adding little weeping children and a supernatural plot where the only thing we should have been watching was her declining mental health). This book is ridiculously well written, repetitive in all the right ways, claustrophobic and spooky, nerve wracking even though nothing truly terrifying happens. Not directly, not exactly. Constance and Merricat (Mary Katherine) are both sweet and terrifying and you never know when they will cry or laugh. This book was incredible. Truly fantastic.


Jinx, by Jennifer Esteep

Sunday, October 26, 2008

isbn: 9780425220627

This is apparently the last book in the Bigtime series, though I kinda wish it wasn't. I have already blabbed about the first two and this one is just as good. Same set of characters but adding something new each time. Interesting note, the author blurb at the back is quite cool, listing her as a writer by night and a journalist by day. She wears cute glasses and a sweater vest. Totally dorky and adorable.


The Sisters Grimm Book 1: The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Micheal Buckley

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

isbn: 9780810993228

This was tons of fun. The evolution of the characters was realistic and their feelings seemed genuine. If my parents had disapeared because of a secret organisation and I was being shuffled around from foster home to foster home, I would be pretty damn pissed off when I found out my grandma wasn't actually dead. That my dad had lied to me. And then the giant shows up. Ugh. Made me smile.


Hot Mama, by Jennifer Estep

Thursday, October 2, 2008

isbn: 9780425217344

This is the second book in the Bigtime (the name of the city) series, and it was fun. The main character is so different from the first one that it feels brand new. It was lovely. She was very clever to send the guy and gal from the first book on a honeymoon for the duration of the book, allowing readers to get to know Fiona without being distracted by the old story. It still feels like a sequel but allows you to get to know characters completely differently. This is the most fun I have had with a romance novel.


Fancies and Goodnights, by John Collier

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

isbn: 9781590170519

I wrenched this book out of Mike's hands as soon as I found out it was being compared to Roald Dahl. If you have read and enjoyed "Lamb to the Slaughter", the short story by Dahl, you will adore this book. A collection of short stories (3-12 pages each, ish), it is a fun ride through Hollywood, hell, suburbia and downtown. It has fleas in love, myriad murders, strange and unusual destinations and tons of fun. It is comparable to Roald Dahl for darkness and to Stephen Leacock for social satire. It was a super fun read that I cannot wait to shove into the hands of unsuspecting customers.


World of Warcraft Graphic Novel by Simonson and Lullabi

Saturday, September 27, 2008

isbn: 9781401218362

I used to be way more into comic books than I am now. Then again, I am way more into World of Warcraft than I have ever been. When I saw this sitting at the library, I grabbed it. I feel that a graphic novel created by many people can never really be rated on one thing alone. Art-wise, Lullabi does a great job. He keeps the bright, slightly cartoony look of the video game and knows how to draw fights, which is rarer than you might think. His elves are pretty, his bears are vicious and have big butts (wow inside joke) and his armour totally fits the over the top style. Writing wise, they also did a good job. It keeps moving and the dialogue does not feel overdone. Plot wise, though, ouch. They tried to cram in so much lore... Wow lore is best discovered slowly, through series of quests that make you understand the motivation of one group or another. This thing bounces around the horde, the alliance, all the main towns (which are beautiful, don't get me wrong. Seeing Darnasus, the giant tree, or the high peaks of Thunderbluff is amazing) but then you throw in the furbols, the naga, warsong gulch.... They are trying to cram about 40 levels of lore into a hundred pages. Ouch, my head!

Art: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Plot: 2/5

Average: 4/5

Zombie Haiku, by Ryan Mecum

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

isbn: 9781600610707

This is cute. Really cute. In a gory, horrible, flesh-eating way. The story told is lovely, interestingly paced and fun. There is even an awesome video on youtube advertising the book: The book is classified as humour at the store, but I will put it squarely in the horror genre just because of the grape/eye reference. It was a bit short but the artwork inside was fun, matching the poems and the movement of the character. How a zombie can still write is beyond me, though I guess we are supposed to forget about that part.


Karma Girl, by Jennifer Estep

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

isbn: 9780425222829

I saw this months and months ago and thought: that looks cool, but slightly dorky. But since it was in the romance section, I put it back. Mistake! It was tons of fun. I want to read the second one now. Carmen, our heroine, finds her fiancé boinking her best friend on her wedding day. AND they are superhero and the corresponding evil nemesis. Ouch. She snaps pictures and ousts them, and starts on a crusade to expose all heroes. This of course goes horribly wrong and funny bits and superhero sex ensues. This was a quick read I ate up in about 2.5 hours after work. Well worth the fun.


The Curse of Mousebeard, by Alex Milway

Sunday, August 10, 2008

isbn: 9780571234349

Wee, the second book. Short story: I bought the first one during a trip to London and ate it on the train ride back to Nottingham. I wanted the second one, but oh no! They didn't have it in Nott! Could I get it in Canada when I got back? Curses, not till next month! I couldn't wait that long! So I searched left, then right, and finally found it in a WH Smith! Hurah! And the second one I kept carefully till the plane ride home, to distract me from the screaming baby sitting in the seat next to me. Worked, too! End of short story.

This one was even more epic than the first one, with huge hidden temples and uber baddies. God I hate Miserly, the horrible evil Mousehunter girl. Arg! Had tons of fun with the mice again, and I cannot wait till we get the second one in Canada so I can sell it to kids. Wee!

On another note, Alex Milway commented on the blog which led me to his blog. Anyway, he has a rather clever little bit about the trend of overweight, extra long kids' books. Harry, I am looking at you, you little bastard. Click through for the full text.


The Economic Naturalist, by Robert H Frank

isbn: 9780753513385

Since I enjoyed Freakonomics, I thought I would pick this up too. The British cover, seen above, is way more appealing than the Canadian one. Oh well. Most fantastic fact in the book: Why is milk stored in rectangular containers and pop in cylindrical ones? It all has to do with wasted space between the cans and the price of keeping milk refrigerated. If you have to keep it cold, you may as well minimise the space between cartons to have no wasted space. Clever and ridiculous, eh? The book is full of little gems that sometimes get repetitive but often are eye openers into the weird world we live in.


The Mousehunter by Alex Milway

Saturday, August 2, 2008

isbn: 9780571234332

An epic tale of pirates, mousehunting, giants, sea monsters, golden mice, hangings, stabbings, dung mice, elephant mice, nosferatu mice, messenger mice, moon howl mice, mice mice mice! Despite my bias in favour of rodents, this was an excellent book. It is suitably dark and spooky but silly at the same time. It has steampunk elements, pirate elements, fantasy elements... The whole package has a nice end, if a bit cliffhangery. The second book, The Curse of Mousebeard, looks even more fun.


Dogfish, by Dan Taylor and Gillian Shields

isbn: 9781416910435

Absolutely the cutes book about a fish I have ever read. Blurb from the book:
Everyone has a dog, except me. So I say to my mum, "I need a dog." But my mum says, "Why do you need a dog when you have such a nice goldfish?" The little boy in this book is desperate to have a dog as a pet. After all, what's the use in having a goldfish when they don't catch sticks, they don't wag their tail and they don't go for walks? Can a goldfish EVER be the perfect pet?"
The illustrations are the sweetest thing ever and this little goldfish grins!!


Button Button, by Richard Matheson

isbn: 978-0765312570

Another collection of short stories that are dark, spooky, and very inspiring. The title story is especially excellent, short and snappy and hits you in the face. There is something in these stories that reminds me of "lamb to the Slaughter", by Roald Dahl, arguably the best short story ever written. Yes yes yes.


The Hollow People, by Brian Keany

Monday, June 23, 2008

isbn: 978-0375843327

I have wanted to read this one for a while, and I was not disapointed. Apart from a very Matrix 2/Pirates 2 ending, this book is very nearly perfect. The world around the two characters is well thought out, the scary big brother-ness is just subtle enough that you could mistake it for misery, and Dante and Bea, the main characters, are lovely and real. I cannot wait till the next one, which aparently comes our in December 08. Arg!


Wicked Lovely, by Melissa Marr

Thursday, June 12, 2008

isbn: 0061214671

I have been looking at this one for a while, and finally took it out at the library. I am really torn. On one side, I really wish it hadn't ended so damn well. Ugh. I think boy A should go with girl B. Oooooh. Of course! On the other hand, I did really really want to finish it. Ate it up in two days (on the bus and at lunch). Honestly the second part looks better, but I can't figure out how it will work at all. Hmmm.


Operation Red Jericho, by Joshua Mowll

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

isbn: 0763626341

I just ate this up. It is the story of two (probably) orphans fighting Chinese pirates and trying to protect the world from quasi-nuclear doom. Although the orphan + secret society is a little worn, the book makes it fresh with fantastically realistic reporting techniques, diagrams, inserts, notes on chemistry... I had tons of fun devouring this. Perfect for curious 9-12 youth.


Fire Study, by Maria V Snyder

isbn: 0778325342

This is the third book in the series that started with Poison Study. I find it interesting/annoying that the books follow each other within a week or so. Her entire story is told in the books, with nothing happening off page. This is fun, but also a bit tedious. I feel the first chapter could have been cut out.

Still, the twists in this one are fantastic, and the evil things the bad guys do is so damn evil that by the time you realise what has happened you really really want to finish it. I had about 10 pages when I started by shift and I just wanted to die. :)


Hellboy: Unnatural Selection, by Tim Lebbon

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

isbn: 9781416507833

I wanted to read something fun after reading that semi-serious teen fiction last month. This was pretty entertaining, felt like the comics and movie feel, kinda silly and full of one liners. Unfortunately, most of the oneliners were things used in the comics, so it felt like Hellboy was always going to be sore in the morning. I think they used it twice. Still, the story fun.


The Compound, by S.A. Bodeen

Thursday, May 29, 2008

isbn: 0312370156

I read this in one afternoon and got annoyed at someone who tried to have a conversation with me while I read it. I had to finish it. The book is paced extremely well and feels like the first big hill on a rollercoaster. The description of the food they can no longer have was ridiculously good, making me hungry for things I didn't even know I craved. The end was a bit weak, though not in a strictly bad sense. I think it was maybe a bit sudden for the speed I was going at.


Prom Dates From Hell, by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Monday, May 26, 2008

isbn: 978-0385734134

This book was actually very clever, and sped up at just the right moment in the plot to keep me interested. Mixing serious issues with magic, this is a brilliant teen book for people who want softcore fantasy and discussions about bullying and high school royalty. I devoured this in one day, and when I thought I knew what was going on, I got slapped in the face and liked it.


Theodosia and the Sepents of Chaos, by R. L. Lafevers

Friday, May 23, 2008

isbn: 978-0618756384

This book is a bit odd. I loved the story. It was very political and spooky. The writing was fine, with the descriptions of curses and objects being just the right length. The pace, on the other hand, was out the window, with zero decent introduction to Theo's powers. There is also a serious lack of details sometimes, like who this secret society is and how does Theo change from a decurser to a curser within 300 pages... A better title would have been Theo and the Heart of Egypt, which would have not ruined the major punch in the story. There is a second one lined up. I dunno if I will read it. The story was really good, though. Arg.

Generation Dead, by Daniel Waters

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

isbn: 142310921X

I picked it up because of the cover and read it because of the blurb. Teenagers in America are coming back from the dead. Unfortunately they have limited mobility and speech, and no civil rights. The story is kinda dorky, with dating and proms, but it also has a lot of ethics questions and awkward decisions for the characters to make. By the end I had cried a little bit, even though it was sorta silly. Good message, nice softcore sci-fi/speculative fiction.


The City of Dreaming Books, by Walter Moers

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

isbn: 1585678996

A very self-indulgent book, it chronicles the adventure of a wannabe-author dinosaur who travels to Bookholm, the City of Dreaming Books, and gets involved with Cyclops, Bookhunters, bug-like books, and the Shadow King! It is self-indulgent because it makes up most of the authors, creatures, races, places, everything, and describes it all in ridiculous (but fun) detail. Seriously, the asides and footnotes almost read like The Hitchhiker's Guide. Which is a compliment. It was a little long, but I totally wanted to finish it.


Playing With Fire, By Dereck Landy

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

isbn: 0061240885

This is the second book after Skullduggery Pleasant, and features Valkyrie Cain and Skullduggery in another gory adventure to save the world and their hides. They really upped the horror/gore factor in this one, with people dying left, right and center, sometimes all at once when their bodies explode. It was a roaring good time, a tad predictable but still fantastic, opening the way to a third book rather explicitly.


The Raw Shark Texts, by Steven Hall

Thursday, May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0002008402

This is a strange and wonderful book. It is about a man who wakes up, remembering nothing, and who receives letters from his past identity telling him he needs to protect himself from a shark born in languange and writing, a Ludovican. IT is full of puzzles and strange locations and strange viruses of language that can control your mind or eat away at your memories. Spooky and fun.


Bones, Rocks and Stars, by Chris Turney

Saturday, April 26, 2008

isbn: 978-0230551947

A cute little soft-core history book about the trouble with dating things. Each chapters goes through a different mystery such as the identity of King Arthur or the validity of the Turin Shroud or the problems one faces when identifying the missing link. It discusses different calendars, the ways of criss-crossing calendars together (and why it rarely is as simple as it seems) and explains everything in a easy but not dumbed down way. Tidbit of information: the Egyptians started back at year zero every time a new King showed up. The Chinese, with each new dynasty. If there were years of famine and war and turmoil between official people being in charge, those years were simply lost. Hmph!


Bloodletting, by Victoria Leathan

Friday, April 4, 2008

isbn: 1572244577

I don't typically read non-fiction, but spotted this at work. I work with youth who sometimes have serious mental health issues. This book, about cutting, depression and the innadequate medical system made me think and reflect how everyone feels this way sometimes, but with mental health issues, it is not so easy to control the inner images and voices. A quick read, but well paced.


Fly by Night, by Francis Hardinge

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ISBN: 978-0060876296

Reading this book, you feel that you are in a fantasy world where boat ship coffee houses hide refugees and crocodiles guard towers. But once everything settles, you realise that it is based loosely on real history and that ridiculous adventures like this took place over the silly topic of religion and wether you should or should not believe in Saints (which they call The Beloved, which amuses me, for some reason).

It also has one of the best lines ever: You are caught between the frying pan and the fire; you will sizzle and like it.


Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City, by Kirsten Miller

Saturday, February 23, 2008

ISBN: 978-1582349602

This book is fantastic for any girl of any age, but it will be high on my list to recommend for the 9-12 range. Especially for those who don't necessarily like magic or shopping. It is rare nowadays to find a good mystery/spy/science novel for girls. I love the little non fiction bits at the end of the chapters where she teaches you how to be a spy.


Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-0061430220

This may be one of the best books I have ever read and I am pleased to have bought it instead of having taken it out at the library. It is a story about werewolves. It is a poem about werewolves. In LA. Who pick up strays. And destroy meth labs, if someone will pay them to do it.

Because it is a poem, the sex is not romance novel sex, and the gore is not horror novel gore. In a poem you can describe dogs sleeping in a pile, chasing after something in their dreams. You can explain hunger. You can write about cute moments where someone does dishes and is hugged from behind, without it seeming dumb.


Fup, by Jim Dodge

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ISBN: 0671509101

This book was lent to me by Mike from work, after in made the rounds to a few other people around the store. It is a quick little thing, about a 40 minute read, and is more of a short story than a book. Still, it is immensely funny and sad all at once, a very enjoyable read, especially since it has apparently gone out of print.

The duck is called Fup, because it is a F'ed up Duck. This sums up the book quite well.