Friday, November 26, 2010

Draw the Dark

Draw the Dark (Carolrhoda Ya)Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick
digital galley provided by NetGalley
Summary from Goodreads:
There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don't talk about. The murder way back in '45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he's drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother. The problem is Christian doesn't just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they'd rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it's no surprise that Christian isn't exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter's last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten: the day the Nazis came to town. Based on a little-known fact of the United States' involvement in World War II, Draw the Dark is a dark fantasy about reclaiming the forgotten past and the redeeming power of love.

My take:
I didn’t really know what to expect when I started this book. First of all, I have to say that after finishing the book, I really liked it and plan to suggest it for my son to read. The first section, entitled “November1, Late Morning Winter, Wisconsin left me wondering what I was about to read. I think the biggest – and really, only – issue I had with the book was the beginning and ending sections. I had a bit of a problem reconciling them with the rest of the story.


I was quickly drawn into this story of teenage Christian, the quiet artist who has an unusual gift or curse -– he can draw people’s deepest, darkest fears. Even he isn’t sure exactly how it works or why. This is his dark secret; and it starts causing him more trouble than usual. He’s had some bad things happen in relation to this talent, but nothing compared to what is about to happen. Christian starts sleep walking and sleep painting while having extremely vivid dreams about events that he knows nothing about and that seem to take place in his hometown but in the past. Then he starts slipping into the past while he is awake. What is happening to him? Why? And maybe the more important question is – how? Christian questions his own sanity and others begin to question it as well.

Thus begins a wonderful, frightening, unusual quest to answer many questions – most of which Christian and most of the townspeople had no idea needed to be answered.

I really enjoyed this story for a variety of reasons. This book takes place in Wisconsin and deals with the WWII prisoners of war that were housed here and in other states throughout the United States after the war. During a family trip to Door County we learned about this historical event when I asked about the unusual building that housed the storefront for a family-owned orchard/farm. The building had been used as barracks for prisoners and had been moved to its current spot and cleaned up for use. I thought that the book deals with possible issues that might come up in the situation of this nature. This is a little known historical event that is just so fascinating. How did the people react when prisoners were moved into their town? What about those of German descent? Fascinating and important questions are examined within the context of the story.

The book encompasses several genres – young adult fiction, mystery, supernatural, horror, and suspense. This book was almost impossible to put down. The mystery is compelling and the supernatural aspects just made it all the more urgent to get to the end of the book and find out what happened. I think it is quite possible that there is a second book planned because the ending definitely leaves this option open. I would recommend this book and I would read a second book if it were published.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.



This week's pre-publication "can't wait to read" selection is:













Deadline by Mira Grant
(Newsflesh Book 2)
Publication date June 1, 2011 by Orbit
from Goodreads:

Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has.


But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news-he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.

Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.


This is the follow up to Mira Grant's amazing FEED. I am anxiously waiting for this one. The cover was just announced by the author and I couldn't wait to add it to my WoW post.  I love this cover and I can't wait for the book to be released.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ghost Light

Ghost Light: A NovelGhost Light by Joseph O'Connor
purchased from Kennys Bookshop
Summary from Goodreads:
Dublin 1907, a city of whispered rumours. An actress still in her teens begins an affair with a damaged older man, the leading playwright at the theatre where she works. Rebellious, irreverent, beautiful, flirtatious, Molly Allgood is a girl of the inner city tenements, dreaming of stardom in America. Witty and watchful, she has dozens of admirers. But in the backstage of her life, there is a secret. Her lover, John Synge, is a troubled, reticent genius, the son of a once prosperous landowning family, a poet of fiery language and tempestuous passions. Yet his life is hampered by Edwardian conventions and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Scarred by a childhood of immense loneliness and severity he has long been ill , but he loves to walk the wild places of Ireland. The affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is turbulent, sometimes cruel, often tender. Many years later, an old woman makes her way across London on a morning after it has been struck by a hurricane. Christmas is coming. As she wanders past bombsites and through the forlorn beauty of wrecked terraces and wintry parks, a snowdrift of memories and lost desires seems to swirl. She has twice been married: once widowed, once divorced, but an unquenchable passion for life has kept her afloat as her dazzling career has faded. A story of love's commitment, of partings and reconciliations, of the courage involved in living on nobody else's terms, "Ghost Light" is a profoundly moving and finally uplifting novel from the award-winning author of "Star of the Sea" and "Redemption Falls". Full of exhilarating language and unforgettable characters, it is a homage to the act of storytelling itself.

My Take:
I really enjoyed this story about Molly Allgood, an Irish actress also known as Maire O'Neill. This is a fictionalized story about her life and her relationship with playwright John Synge.  At the beginning I had a bit of trouble determining what was going on because some of the chapters don't give the year, just the day or time.  But after awhile, I got into the flow of the story and could anticipate and/or easily determine which time period was being written about.  The story flows back and forth between London in 1952 where Molly is an old woman living alone in poverty with a reputation in the neighborhood as a drunk.  This is a heartbreaking picture of the fate of the vibrant, pretty, Irish girl who wants to be an actress. At first I was annoyed by the way the story switched back and forth, but then, I decided that it was symbolic of her aging mind and how her memories were still vibrant and her present reality wasn't as pleasant as her past.  Also, I thought it was illustrative of how older minds don't seem to differentiate as much between past and present.

This is a pretty sad story, in my opinion.  Molly had plans and ambitions and was supposed to marry Synge. But due to their family's disapproval and various other hindrances, they were not able to marry before he died.  Molly did become somewhat famous in her time, but her life never seemed to live up to her ambitions.  She looks back on her life and her decisions and has to come to terms with what has happened. As with most Irish literature I've read so far, there really isn't a happy ending. However, I did enjoy the story. It is very well written and once I let myself engage with the story, it was hard to put the book down. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mockingjay

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
borrowed from library
Summary from Goodreads:
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.

My take:
I was finally able to get this book from my local library - after being on the waiting list for what seemed like forever.  I read the book in one day as has been typical for each of The Hunger Games books. This book held my attention from the first. I was totally pulled into the pain and darkness that has become Katniss' life. I was still reeling from the way Catching Fire ended and wasn't really prepared for the turns that came fast and furious in Mockingjay. I am so pleased that Suzanne Collins can keep me guessing and turning pages right up until the last page.

In this installment, Katniss is pretty broken from everything that happened in the last games. She is tormented by the lost lives and that Peeta is being held by the Capitol. She feels that everything is her fault. As the rebellion grows, we learn even more about what has been done to the victors from past games and how the Capitol controls people. I was pleasantly surprised that the rebellion is not painted as being strictly "the good guys" -- they have done and will do things that are at the very least, questionable if not downright abhorrent.  There are agendas on all sides.  Hard lessons are learned and loyalties are tested. I felt the pain and while I didn't enjoy reading about it, I believed it. This story was believable to me from start to finish. I would definitely recommend this series.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Snow Crash

Snow Crash (Bantam Spectra Book)Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
purchased
Summary from Goodreads:
Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison--a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age. In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo's CosaNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he's a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that's striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about Infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous...you'll recognize it immediately.

My take:
I just re-read this book for the first time in a very long while.  I loved it with a passion the first time I read it when it first came out. I had read Stephenson's Zodiac and had been keeping an eye out for his next book. Snow Crash was exactly what I was looking for while waiting for the next William Gibson book to be released.  For me, reading this book again was like a reunion with long lost friends.  I mean, how can you not love a book hero/protagonist named Hiro Protagonist?? And he's the best sword fighter in the world -- in the metaverse, anyway. In this vision of the future, the only pizza delivery company is owned and run by the Mafia -- CosaNostra Pizza, Inc. --- and all pizzas are delivered in under thirty minutes or else. This book is just so much fun, but at the same time there is so much to think about.  The state of the world where many people can't afford to live in actual houses, but live in storage units, corporations own and run burbclaves, where the wealthy families live, the mob is just another corporation. Many of these ideas have been around in science fiction for awhile, but I really enjoyed Stephenson's vision here. I was especially intrigued with the idea of hacking the brain and the Sumerian history/mythology was fun too.  Hiro and Y.T., the fifteen year old Kourier and his sometime business partner have great sarcastic voices with lots of social commentary.

I thought this book stood up to re-reading and would definitely suggest it to friends - especially as a follow up to Gibson and other cyberpunk type books.