Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: 2010
Publisher: Razor Bill

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

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I wanted to like this story, the concept is one that I haven’t seen a lot of, and the fey/changelings are something that interest me. However, I just could not get into this book at all. There are so many questions left unanswered, and everything is mysterious, nothing gets explained and all of the characters seem to know what’s going on, but there aren’t any resolutions or forward movement.

Mackie is one of the biggest problems for me. He’s vague and a bundle of walking contradictions. His changeling status makes it so he can’t handle loud noises, yet his favorite place to be is in the pit of a rock show? Or on stage with the band. He can’t touch metal, but he drinks beer from a can. The author spends so much time making him so different from everyone else, and then doubles back and breaks her own character rules. I really couldn’t get behind his voice, or his actions–or really bring myself to care what was happening to him. He’s got a crush on Tate (who is her own bundle of off putting characteristics) and yet he wants to hang out/make out/score with the hot/slutty girl of the school.

Also, can we stop with the slutty characters? You can have sexual characters, just please no slut shaming in books. It really is off putting, and shows no respect for the characters themselves. It distances me even further from this story, because this particular character was only referred to by how hot she was/how easy she was. I did like Emma–she was a character that seemed so fleshed out compared to the others. She had motivation and drive and distinction from everyone else in the story.

I’m not out to trash this book, or anyone who enjoyed it. I couldn’t get into it. There were moments that showed promise, but then something completely removed me from the story. The concept is neat, and something that we don’t see a lot of in the book world. I just wanted more from it.

Overall: pink2 Skip this. It’s frustrating and disjointed.

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Comic Talk: Batman Incorporated (New 52)

Title: Batman Inc vol. 1
Writer/Artist: Grant Morrison Chris Burnham

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: Led by the Dark Knight and bankrolled by his civilian alter ego Bruce Wayne, Batman Incorporated has agents in every corner of the globe, fighting injustice no matter the geography. Now the war has come home to Gotham City–and the new Robin is caught in the crossfire.

Raised to rule the world by his mother Talia, the daughter of the villainous Ra’s al Ghul, young Damian Wayne rejected his tyrannical training and now battles evil alongside his father, the Batman. But her ever-growing cult, the global criminal conspiracy called LEVIATHAN, is on the verge of extinguishing the light of justice everywhere. And once she’s taken away everything the Batman cares about, she’ll take away his son too. Even if it means turning him into a monster.

Even if it means killing him.

And the price on the Boy Wonder’s head is nothing compared to what Batman will do to save his son.

picadillypink I’m probably in the minority when it comes to this story line. I didn’t care for the art at all– it is very sketchy with harsh lines, the colors are washed out/water color tone, and the over all toning of the panels was very dark, at times making it really hard to see what was going on. At times it made distinguishing characters visually very difficult to do. The main story arc drops the reader into an all ready in motion story, so at times I felt a little lost, and I spent some time on wiki a) spoiling myself b) trying to figure out exactly what was going on.

That aside, there were some things that I did like about this volume, and it’s enough to get me to pick up the second one. Though I will be picking it up through the library and not collecting it, because I don’t care that much. I really loved the redemption of Jason Todd without the drama and redemption arc ‘on screen’. It’s no secret that I’m a Jason fan–but I really like how Batman Inc handled his coming back to the bat-family without dragging the reader through the mud and beating a dead horse. I did also like the glimmer of humor that was in the story as well. The Bat-cow/Bat-steak panel made me laugh, and it’s probably one of the more iconic scenes in the first volume. Damian really shines in this story but on the other hand Bruce is really off (again, tying into the beginning arc that this story picks up on.)

Overall: pink2 An interesting Batman story arc, but not something that I’ll actively read.

Comic Talk: Static Shock (New 52)

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Writer/Artist: Scott McDaniel, John Rozum and Andy Owens.
Publisher: DC Comics: The New 52 (June 26, 2012)

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis: Virgil Hawkins may be a small-town kid, but his skills are Big Time. For he is none other than the smooth-talking, energy-manipulating teenaged superhero Static!

New Yorkers have taken note. So has a consortium of the city’s biggest underground bosses. When first the Slate Biker Gang and then the Piranha and the Pale Man (looking suspiciously like a certain psychotic clown….) lead an army of pharma-mutated thugs against him, Static and his family are in for a Big City welcome. Still, Virgil can’t decide what’s more shocking: these new enemies, or just how powerful he’s turning out to be.

picadillypink I really wanted to like this. There’s some really great positives with this series. African American lead character, with a good strong family backing him. Breaks social stereotypes for the most part and has the hints of an interracial romance–something that’s so severely lacking in comic books, and for the most part main stream media.

I had a few problems with this volume however. The story seemed patched together and really disjointed. I felt like I was dropped into maybe the fourth or fifth volume of this series–there was a lot of background information that was implied and never fully explained. I felt lost through a lot of it, and ended up turning to wiki after I finished it. This is the trade paperback, so it compiles all of the paper volumes together in one easier to read book, but I still felt really lost. The dialogue was off as well and some of the exposition just didn’t jive well with me. I’m not sure what’s missing, but I feel like it’s not complete. This paperback includes all of the issues of the Static Shock series that was released with the New 52 relaunch. The book ends on a short note, but if you enjoy the Static Shock character he meets up with the Teen Titans further down the line.

Overall pink2 Diverse cast, strong leaning toward an interesting story line, but lack of detail and background information makes this confusing. If you remember the short lived Static Shock cartoon a few years ago, the characterization is on point with that. I wouldn’t read him on his own again, there’s something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Book Review: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.


Title: An Abundance of Katherines
Author: John Green
Published: September 21st 2006
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Katherine V thought boys were gross
Katherine X just wanted to be friends
Katherine XVIII dumped him in an e-mail
K-19 broke his heart
When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact.

On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun–but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

picadillypink I wanted to like this so badly–and I’m also sensing a pattern with Green’s works for me. I find them so pretentious and almost antagonistic in the way that they present the overly smart male protagonist and the whimsical, mysterious female that he undoubtedly falls in love with. Maybe because the narrative voice in TFioS is female, and I identify a little bit with the way Hazel presents herself and speaks that I didn’t find it as pretentious as the other books by Green.

My other problem with An Abundance of Katherines, is the pacing. It seems to drag and flip flop between the past and current events. It stretches out so slowly that it was almost a burden to finish. I’m trying really hard not to have any DNF books this year, and already six days in I was really tempted to just put it back in the bag for the library. I slogged through it, finding Colin boorish and just someone that I really didn’t want to read more about. The only slight ray in the dark was Hassan, but even that was drowned out by Green’s incessant reminders that he was Muslim, and throwing around Arabic/Islamic phrases. Please do not get me started on the footnotes, I hate them in text books, and I have absolutely no interest in seeing them in fiction (which is probably one of the reasons why I don’t read high fantasy either).

Overall: pink2 I have two more John Green books to read and I’m not certain I’m going to.

Book Review: Wasted Lands by Dave Dorman


Title: Wasted Lands
Author/Artist: Dave Dorman
Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Magnetic Press.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
‘Wasted Lands’ is inspired by the high-adventure serials of the ’40s and ’50s and the Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s, but infused with a contemporary sci-fi, diesel-punk aesthetic.

Courtesy of: banners04

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I wanted to love this, I really did. I like science fiction, steampunk is becoming something that I’m really drawn to, and diesel-punk is a great offshoot of steampunk. However, that’s not the case here. The art is the only thing that I enjoyed. It varied from story to story, but there’s a commonality that didn’t cause any disconnect or confusion.

The stories themselves were the aspect that I couldn’t connect to. The art, frankly is the only reason I read this, making the omnibus a disappointment. I now know that I’m not fond of the spaghetti western genre. I’m not even certain that I’m going to seek out other titles by this author.

Overall: pink2Not my style of storytelling, though the art is beautiful and unique.

Book Review: Snakecharm by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes


Title: Snakecharm
Author: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Published: June 13, 2006
Publisher: Laurel Leaf.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Zane Cobriana, cobra shapeshifter, thanks the gods every day for Danica, his hawk pair bond, and the peace their union has brought to the avian and serpiente. Soon, Danica will have a child to carry on their royal line. But what should be a happy time is riddled with doubt.

Syfka, an ancient falcon, has arrived from Ahnmik claiming that one of her people is hidden in their midst. The falcons are more powerful than the avian and serpiente combined, and Syfka shows nothing but contempt for Zane and Danica’s alliance. To Zane’s horror, his own people seem just as appalled as Syfka is by the thought of a mixed-blood child becoming heir to the throne.

Is Syfka’s lost falcon just a ruse to stir up controversy among them? The truth lies somewhere in their tangled pasts and the search will redefine Zane and Danica’s fragile future.

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After reading Hawksong and falling in love with it, I immediately went to reserve Snakecharm from the library. It took a few weeks for them to get it in, so I was chomping at the bit to read it when I finally got my hands on it. I still like the world, and the characters–though in Snakecharm there’s a narration shift from Danica to Zane. About halfway through the book we find out that Danica is pregnant with their first child, and along with that comes the problems of raising a mixed breed child, and which throne the child will inherit. I found that Danica changed a bit in this book. She’s not as strong/self sufficient in this book, relying heavily on others.

Zane is a believable narrator though a bit passive. I felt that it dragged a bit, and lacked some of the excitement and drama from the first book. I did also notice that there wasn’t as much world building–it was as though I was supposed to take things at face value. The story felt a bit rushed, a little stitched together to further the main plot along. I did like the side story with the two falcons that are hidden among Danica’s people. It was a nice twist that I didn’t see coming.

Overall: pink2 Snakecharm suffers from second book syndrome–adding in details to pad the story and push along a larger plot that will be revealed in later books. Feels like filler.

Book Review: The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman


Title: The Grimm Legacy
Author: Polly Shulman
Publisher: July 8, 2010
Published: Putnam Juvenile

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Summary:
Elizabeth has a new job at an unusual library – a lending library of objects, not books. In a secret room in the basement lies the Grimm Collection. That’s where the librarians lock away powerful items straight out of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales; seven-league boots, a table that produces a feast at the blink of an eye, Snow White’s stepmother’s sinister mirror that talks in riddles.

When the magical objects start to disappear, Elizabeth embarks on a dangerous quest to catch the thief before she can be accused of the crime or captured by the thief.

Polly Shulman has created a contemporary fantasy with a fascinating setting and premise, starring an ordinary girl whose after-school job is far from ordinary and leads to a world of excitement, romance and magical intrigue.

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Elizabeth is the new kid in a school, and has difficulty making friends. She’s quiet and a bit shy with a crush on the school’s star basketball player Marc. After doing a report on the Grimm Brothers, she’s pulled aside by her social studies instructor and is offered an after school job with the New York Circulating Materiel Repository– a library that loans patrons items, not books.

There are four main characters in the story: Elizabeth, the quiet new girl. Anjali the beautiful girl who has the attention of both Marc, the basketball star, and Aaron the surly boy who knows a little more than he should. The adults play a strong supporting role, often not so subtly nudging the kids in the right direction. The magic aspect of this story is really interesting. Anjali has the ability to use magic, Elizabeth can smell it, and Aaron can see it on certain objects. The biggest pull of this story is the Grimm collection, which are items directly out of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales. The Grimm collection is secret, well guarded and only a select few can get into it. Halfway through the story, Elizabeth is granted access, which drove me a little crazy. The build up toward the Grimm collection was so high, so mysterious that it was almost blase when she did get into it. She and her friends are thrust into the middle of a mystery when they figure out that magical items are disappearing, or being returned stripped of their magic. They decide to go off on their own to find the person who is responsible. There are a few things that go wrong with this plan, and people aren’t who they say they are.

There’s almost too much going on in this book. The mystery of disappearing items would have been enough to carry the novel I think. The Grimm collection was something original, and I liked the concept of the library of borrowing items that weren’t necessarily books. I mean who wouldn’t want to go grab something from history and look at it? I know given the chance I’d spend many days there getting lost in history and looking at items first hand. But then the author throws in a magical bird that’s coming to attack the kids who work at the library, a collector of dolls that aren’t dolls, two really weird and unnecessary romance plots and disappearing adults at pivotal times in the story. The romance and crushes were overwrought and caused drama that didn’t need to be there. I was rolling my eyes a bit when it came to certain chapters. Elizabeth grows as a character only superficially.

Overall pink2 It’s aimed toward the high school/YA audience but it reads really young. Almost middle grade. Interesting concept that gets lost in too many details and random plot twists. I won’t be picking up the companion novel.