Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Golden Spiral (Hourglass Door #2) by Lisa Mangum

I started reading this series because I noticed this cover in a bookstore a few months back and it lured me in. Remember that Donald Duck short from forever ago when Disney pulled a School House Rock and had this educational cartoon on The Golden Ratio? That's what I first thought of.

Yeah that takes you back doesn't it.

Anyway. The book is TOTALLY unrelated to the golden mean, so sorry if you got excited there for a moment. In fact, I can't recall a Golden Spiral making an appearance at all. Not as a trippy staircase or Da Vinci diagram or bizarre time concept. I bet that is where all these problems stem from - false advertising with lack of cool spiral.

Abby is attempting to rescue Dante from some freaky in-between world of time, while Zo has gone all Anarchist Tyrant and is ruling the River of Time with an iron fist. Plus he has a big grudge against Abby and is destroying the pasts of her close friends and family, which will in turn damage her and the choices she makes in relation to the Hourglass Door. At least, I think that's what happens. Honestly, I was confused throughout large bits. Time travel jenk seems to do that to me.

The facts are these: The first book was good -- creative premise, likeable characters, decent love story, mystery and good pacing. It had what I require for an entertaining read. This book though? Let's just say there are no good ratios going on here, golden or not.

It's your typical #2 Bridge To The Conclusion. Some parts were really slow, other parts were a hot mess of WTH blended with Whatever I Don't Even Care Anymore. Nothing that is supposed to be Suspenseful! actually is, we get no added character depth, and I'm not sure anything was even accomplished. The Most Obnoxious Award goes to both Abby and Dante. Mostly Abby -- she is a true Mary Sue in this one. Pretty much all they do is kiss and make googly eyes and Dante & Co. tell Abby how brave and incredible she is like 18,000 times and I don't get WHY. She's brave because her friend has gone insane, she's trying to get Dante back and her family is no more thanks to Zo? If that makes you brave than I guess every single one of us is like freaking Captain Heroic so congratulations everybody on being SO BRAVE!

For me The Golden Spiral was something of a let down. Down, down the golden spiral into Meh.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking #3) by Patrick Ness

You know the drill by now with series books, right? Go read the first two and then feel free to come back.

This is a big book and I just don't have it in me to go into detail. So here's the skinny: the shiz has hit the fan. Mayor/President Crazypants is all, "I'm going to brainwash Todd, annihilate The Answer and that upstart Mistress Coyle, and wipe out the entire Spackle population all while discussing gold trim options for my new military uniform with the local tailor." Which he pretty much does.

BUT WAIT. We now have a new voice in town vying for attention. Enter Spackle #1017, whom we briefly (thank goodness - can we say creepster) met in the previous book. He is called The Return by the spackle community, who refer to themselves as The Land. And he is on a mission to destroy Todd and pretty much everything else.

Then we have the Determined Though Conflicted and Quite Possibly Dying Viola, who still is being manipulated by the Machiavellian Mistress Coyle and a host of other people. And maybe Todd? She's not sure because - SURPIRSE! - he can silence his Noise now. Which Viola no likey, and she senses that Todd is slowly being brainwashed by the ever increasing power of Mayor/President Prentiss.

So pretty much its non-stop power plays and broken treaties and bombs exploding everywhere while Todd and Viola continue to be separated way more than they (and we) want. It's truly maddening. Add to that the fact that every time the Mayor or Mistress Coyle was mentioned my eyesight turned red and I chanted DEATH! in my head. In a word: Exhausting.

The spackle/The Land was way more fascinating, and less preachy, than I had anticipated. I liked that we see through their point of view in this. They are flawed, they feel a lot of regret and sadness and hatred, they can be bloodthirsty. The inclusion of the spackle, especially given the very early references given to them and the first spackle war, make the series come full circle.

Let it be known that the end of book 1 and 2 was like, Holy Crap! But the end of Monsters was like HO. LY. CRAP. Yes, Kanye Caps to the max. With tears. Lots of tears. And yet it doesn't end sad, so don't let my sob fest deter you if you've been interested in this series up to this point. In fact, I think its the best ending to a series I've read in a loonng while.

4.5 out 5 stars. I can't give it a 5 because of the High Angst Level caused by Todd and Viola's separation and manipulation. I'm pretty sure it aged me a few years.

Book source: Amazon. As in, I proudly own these.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Audrey has decided to finally dump her lame boyfriend. Little does she know that that very night he would write a hit song about her, launching both his band and Audrey into a whirlwind of fame and paparazzi. This is Audrey's side of the story; her take on The Dumping, the Mistake that is Simon Lolita, the Fame Monster (no, Lady Gaga does not make a cameo), the True But Sometimes Misguided Loyalty of her bff, and the Treasure that is James From The Scooper Dooper.

I feel in the mood to start with the downsides. I like ending with the happies.

So the most glaring offense is the language. I went to a high school football game recently and was appalled anew by the language of such short little humans. Still, I'd rather not have it shoved in my face every other paragraph. It's too much for my fragile self.

Next, the story. "Audrey, wait!" is the name of the infamous song, the reason for all the calamity that follows. No teen, especially one who cares about music, will be in love with a song that is ALWAYS played on the radio and MTV and every other media outlet. Every person Audrey has contact with comments on how much they lluuurvve this song! Really? NO ONE hates it? Emo, Indy, Punk AND Pop fans all adore it? Right.

Then the fame. Audrey becoming an InstaCeleb is a stretch. Remember when that song "Hey there Delilah" was playing every two minutes, and how The Real Delilah made page 48 of US Weekly, and people were like, I wonder who Delilah is and what makes her sooo great? But actually didn't care after 3 seconds? Yeah. Not here. So while that parts requires some imagination, I DO like the Average Girl Is Involuntarily Thrust Into Spotlight And Tries (always without success) To Retain Her Normal Lifestyle theme.

Which brings us to The Likes. I like Audrey, potty mouth and all. She's very witty, fairly rational, generally kind and totally spunky. I like her relationships with people. With her entertaining parents, her best friend, and even, in the end, her Ex BF. I love her blossoming relationship with the Charming Nerd James.

I like that this book, just like Amy & Roger's Epic Detour which I read right before this, has a song line at each chapter heading. Because Audrey, being the cool girl she is, is REALLY into music.

Though I can't say that I'd recommend it because of the language, Audrey, Wait! really is a fun read. 3.9 Grammies for this catchy piece.

Book source: Paperback Swap

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

I'm fairly certain that had I read this in June my summer would have been vastly different. Namely, I would have cajoled a girlfriend to road trip with me, which would've resulted in an added 5 pounds from craptacular food, a few small roadkills, that affair with a lifeguard I've been meaning to have, and a notebook full of pictures and playlists. In short: Awesome.

Kind of like this book.

Amy Curry's life has taken a nose-dive over the past few months. Her twin brother is in rehab, her father died, and her mom put their house up for sale and is moving them to Connecticut. All right before her senior year. Mrs. Curry arranges for a friend's son, Roger, who is also headed to the east coast, to accompany Amy on the trip.

I feel that more plotline summary is unnecessary -- just think "Good Read About A Road Trip" and you can probably guess what happens. Adventures/Life Lessons/Tears/Romance/New Friendships all make a flashy appearance. As does a topiary moose, a Stealthy Break-In, and a sock-slide at WalMart.

The Favorite Bits: The pictures -- copies of receipts, flyers, emails and playlists. It makes the journey feel real and personal. Also love that each chapter heading features a song line that ties in somehow. Morgan Matson I approve of your taste in music, and have even looked up a few songs on Roger's playlists. Totes to you, dear lady. Parenthetically, your bio picture is disgustingly adorable.

I also loved Bronwyn (despite her name) with her refreshing kindness (she's from Texas, so...) and"Get up, dress up, show up" mantra. And can I also say how nice it was, for the first time in living memory, to read something that takes place (only somewhat, obviously) in southern California? Finally a book that isn't obsessed with New York! I kind of love Miss Matson more because of her obvious love of the LA area; that, and her featuring of some of the nations' favorite foods -- should I ever decide to go to Kentucky.

The Not So Much: I'll try not to be spoilery, but I rarely succeed at that, so whatever. Here's the thing with Amy & Roger - by the end of the book they've still only known each other for like a week. I know long road trips force you to bond faster yada yada yada. But I REJECT the end. It felt cheap and rushed. Some highway bonding and romantic tension should not an intimate relationship make. Particularly with characters who want long-term commitment. So I'm not buying.

I've heard this book as being touted as something Sarah Dessen could've written. I would qualify that with a "But Not Quite As Innocent" follow-up. The F word is dropped a few times, and there's some hanky panky insinuations thrown in for good measure. I love that I just used the words hanky panky. How pervy does that sound.

Epic Detour is an Ultimate Summer Read that can be enjoyed any season of the year. Two thumbs up for a good exploration.