Friday, March 15, 2013

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

Well Played Pullman. I think we can all agree that “His Dark Materials” was pretty fantastic. So I grabbed this because a) I enjoyed that series and b) I genuinely like books that touch on what life was like for Jesus – and I’m an Agnostic Jew (yes. We can do that).  The problem is, that while I’m fully on team “Well Played Pullman” I fumble in that I didn't actually really enjoy this book. I had trouble getting through it for absolutely no good reason. It’s well written in an easy clearly laid out way. It’s not too long or too short and it’s a clever idea.  So yes. “This is a story” as Pullman says, and Pullman is without a doubt a masterful storyteller. I like the slant he took, I like the mischief, I like how it held fairly true to the written gospels and I liked the Humanistic aspect the story took.

But I didn’t love it. I’m not quite sure why. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Midnight Blue-Light Special

Wait. Wait. Hold the phones. Two posts, one day? Not a YA book? I know guys, it's confusing but it's still UF so we're probably still ok.  The weird thing is the majority books I read aren't actually YA/UF. I just don't review them because I'm boring or something.

So I love Seanan McGuire. This is not news, and not a secret, so by that logic this was a bit of a biased book choice on my part. I'm firmly on camp McGuire can do no wrong, and luckily this book didn't disappoint. So, here's the thing - I love her Rosemary and Rue series. Verging on slightly obsessive level of love. As in trying to figure out how I can get/beg/borrow/steal an ARC for Chimes at Midnight, but then is it awkward if I still buy a copy so it fits properly on my shelf? Because I'm weird like that.

Anyways. The great thing about Midnight Blue-Light Special is that it's one of those rare books that outshines the original.  Like I said in that review, I didn't love Discount Armageddon as much as I love her Rosemary and Rue series, but I thought it was a solid set up for the series. Turns out, I'm right. By I'm right, I mean McGuire is a fantastic writer, and I now have another series I love equally as much as Rosemary and Rue. Well Played Ms. McGuire. Well Played.

Basically Verity Price is a fantastic heroine - she's charming and funny and loves what she does even though she sometimes wishes she didn't have to do it. Her best friend is the most human not human that I've ever read. She's apparently a giant psychotic bug who looks human but is supposed to be terrifying but is just really really appealing.  So Cryptozoology. As a rule, I have little patience for it. Yes, I love faeries, the supernatural and everything else of the like, but Cryptozoology for some reason has always set my back up. I don't know why, but you know what, it works. Possibly because of the Aeslin Mice. Hail. Hail indeed. But all the supporting cast - the other Cryptids are everything that goes bump in the night (yes, including the Boogyman).

Basically McGuire has the ability to world build in a way that makes it real - even when that reality is fantastically un-real. She's made reading about monsters fun since the first book of Rosemary and Rue, and for this series, actually made the monsters someone you'd want to have a coffee with.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

I am confused by this book. I am less confused by this book after I did some research and found out that it's the first book of a series. Excellent.

So I was fooling around on twitter one day (as I am wont to do) and I saw that there was a giveaway from Razorbill - it's absolutely no secret I've been on a YA book kick for the past few months (can't help it, what's coming out is awesome) and they were doing a giveaway for some new titles. I did what I always do, googled for the plot, begged for the book, got nostalgic over a past job a Razorbill author and I shared, won the book and then got worried because I really really wanted to love the book, and that tends to end poorly for me.

It's also no secret I tend to buy books for their covers. I know, I know, but I do. I not only really dug the cover, but I loved the title. I'm Newfie enough it was one of the phrases I remember hearing from my Grandpa fairly constantly and quite simply, I really wanted to be charmed by this book.

Whelp (yes I went there) stars aligned and I was completely charmed by this book. Violet is charming, River is sufficiently dark and mysterious to make the teens and tweens smitten and even I half love him when I know I shouldn't. The character development is haunting - generally the novel is. I'm about to get really folky here guys - but the magic in this book is magical because it's not actual magic. It's the magic any of us raised by people who were raised with myth and legend can identify with - the local folk magic that's in what we wear, the shadows by our bed and the fact that we remember why you leave fairy bread out by the window. Tucholke manages to make the book creepy, disturbing and really you should probably read it with the lights on.

I'm not going to get overly into it because it doesn't come out till August, but it's well worth reminding yourself to pick up a copy.

Friday, March 8, 2013

March Madness

So right off the bat, and to be perfectly clear Harper Collins Canada doesn't know who I am, there's pretty much no chance they'll even read this and I'm not writing it to give them publicity blah blah blah. I'm writing this for you - yes, you, one of the handful of people who's reading this, because for reasons beyond Marketing you should be paying attention to Harper Collins Canada's March Madness contest.

HCC March Madness is basically a basketball tournament with books - 64 books that face off until one book is named ultimate champion of all of the books. Book vs. Book. Literary smack down for the ages. HCC is clever - along with one book crowned winner, one person wins all of the books.

Ok, so why do you care? Other then winning 64 books (that I can impartially say over half of which actually rank on my list of favourite books ever- Amelia Bedelia, The Giving Tree, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Goodnight Moon, The Gruffalo, To Kill a Mockingbird all made it past the first round, and I will say that a Tree Grows in Brooklyn being up against Stardust is basically a personal tragedy) which is damn cool, and minus the fact it's basically a popularity contest for books, the question of why we love what book is one that's just fun to think about.

It's a pretty safe assumption that the majority of kids who grew up in Canada grew up being read the Giving Tree and The Gruffalo. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy made me love science fiction, and told me it's ok to be ridiculous sometimes. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was the first book that made me cry. Mr. Penumbra's is a terrifyingly accurate snapshot of both where I want my career to go, and exactly where I am in life. Stardust will always break my heart in the best possible way.

So beyond the marketing, I kind of love the idea of pitting The Giving Tree against Goodnight Moon because if you made me chose, I actually don't know which way I'd go. It's no easier to me to pit Goodnight Moon over To Kill a Mockingbird. Maybe it should be - American classic versus childhood memory. More to the point, it made me think if I actually had to chose one favourite book - I don't actually know what I would chose. Books that changed my life, books that shifted my worldview, books that made me feel better, not alone, I don't know which way I'd go. It's cool, I'm a Librarian, I know I'm a dork about this stuff.