Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Welcome to the future, Clara Brackett."

Before Tomorrowland by Jeff Jensen and Brad Bird.

The year is 1939. Clara Brackett and her son Lee are off to New York for what could readily be called the first ever book convention. Or fan convention. It is something of their final adventure together as Clara is dying from cancer. They have no idea the trouble which awaits them in New York or the future which stands before them. 

This book had a feel of the movies Sky Captain and The Rocketeer. I loved it, every moment of it.

The cast of characters were vast, but not where I couldn't keep them straight, and some were familiar and some new. (Amelia Earhart, Nikola Tesla to name a few familiar ones.) I didn't think I would enjoy a point of view from real life people in a fiction book but I ended up loving them.

Then of course there was Henry Stevens whom I fell in love with in the beginning and...and...and....I can't say for spoilers sake but gosh. That fella. *Sniffle*.

The plot wove between characters and took place over a three day span. It drew me in and, while is started slow, I loved the slower time to get to know the characters better. 

The spread of the locations wasn't hard to follow either as each chapter gave a heading as to where it took place. Overall, while the plot had complexities to it I didn't feel lost or confused which was an added bonus.

Part Steampunk, part historical fiction, and part fantasy, this story was a lot of fun and only made me even more excited to see the movie, Tomorrowland.

Friday, April 28, 2017

"See, that is the Gilbert I know." ("I'm this idiot's left eye.")

Wherein Jack is ashamed....but not really. (Spoilers involved but not too many. If you plan to read maybe read my review afterward. If you don't plan to read the series you won't be spoiled anything because it likely won't make sense to you.)

Did I start this? No, I did not. Contrary to what my best friend might claim. All I did was get her to watch Avatar, The Last Airbender. She took it further and started anime, and then manga, and dragged me along into it.

Therefore, here is my review....because yes, I finished a complete manga series. And I must confess, this is more of a rant about how hot one of the characters is and not so much a review.

Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki

With an Alice in Wonderland twist, the story follows Oz and the many friends and foes he comes in contact with. (My favorite of whom bears the name of Gilbert Nightray. *HintHint* the hot one.)

First off, I have never in my life read a more complicated, twisted plot. Even after I finished my head was reeling and I plan to reread it to catch everything I missed the first time. Personally I love stories which leave me spinning and going, "WOW" throughout. I love to try and figure things out but still have the plot make sense. Somehow Jun managed to pull this off brilliantly.

Mostly though I loved the characters. While the plot was tons of fun nothing surpassed the amazing cast of characters.

First there is Oz. Little, adorable, sad Oz. Oz, who suffers so much and then when you think he will finally get answers his world is shattered and you can't help but hug the book in an attempt to hug him. Seriously, that fella needs a nice holiday somewhere. Away from A CERTAIN SOMEONE I CURRENTLY DISLIKE.

Then we have Alice, also known as "Stupid rabbit." This term of endearment was given her by Gil. Alice is the spunky, meat loving companion of Oz. She gets him out of as much trouble as she gets him into and is always at his side. She's like his shadow, his loud, bossy shadow. She is quarky and I love her.

Next is Break. Break with his sweet tooth, teeth, and his refusal to enter or leave a room in any normal fashion. Break who balances things on his head, eats Oz's cakes, drinks tea, and hangs upside down from trees. Break with his ridiculous sleeves and Fufu-ing. Break whom I didn't trust and have been apologizing too ever since for it. Break, who I may copy by flapping my sleeves about as I fufu. Yes, Break was wonderful. He also broke my heart.

There are so many others I loved. Elliot, Leo, Reim, Sharon, Uncle Oscar, Ada - and those I hated or strongly disliked depending on what they did to the characters I loved: Jack, Lacie, Oswald, Stupid Levi, Creepy Vincent....and so on. There is a long dislike/ hate list.

And lastly in my character list is my all time favorite, the one I have admitted as to being hot even though I rarely if ever say anyone is hot.

Gilbert Nightray. Yes, wonderful Gil. I can't even put into coherent words what it is about him I love so much. There are many things I loved about him. His loyalty and devotion. His friendship. The way he looked out for those he cared about, and those who were creepy but family. His struggles. His growth and character development.
Then there are the less noble sounding reasons. His pistols. His hat. His coat. His speeches. His cooking. When he shared his hat and coat. His eyes. His smile. Eh....there, now that I've embarrassed myself I'm sure you get the idea. The fella is wonderful, okay? And I love him. He rates up there on my all time favorite character list.

Gil aside, this series is worth reading. Even if you are like me and refuse to read Manga, this is worth it. Story telling like this is hard to find.

"If friendship has an opposite it is war."

I Pledge Allegiance by Chris Lynch

Summary from Goodreads
Four best friends. Four ways to serve their country.

Morris, Rudi, Ivan, and Beck are best friends for life. So when one of the teens is drafted into the Vietnam War, the others sign up, too. Although they each serve in a different branch, they are fighting the war together--and they pledge to do all they can to come home together.

Haunted by dreams of violence and death, Morris makes it his personal mission to watch over his friends--and the best place to do that is in the US Navy. Stationed off the coast of Vietnam on the USS Boston, Morris and his fellow sailors provide crucial support to the troops on the ground.

But the Boston itself isn't safe from attack. And as Morris finds his courage and resolve tested like never before, he keeps coming back to a single thought.

He made a pledge. He must keep them safe

I mostly just picked this book up for the sake of research. Though the story held a lot of promise I didn't care for the writing style, lack of details, and shortness of the book. I felt like the story could have been a whole lot better with more of all of the above.

The characters didn't really have the depth I like with characters. I finished the book wanting more and ended up raiding the Vietnam biography section of the library.

Overall the book wasn't horrible. It did give me a glimpse into the Vietnam war. Also the series is about friends, so what can go wrong there. I do plan on finishing the series, I just can tell it won't be one of my all time favorites. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"She also discovered this secret forbidden to fairies, love, that life-giving force. That is to say, which gives birth and causes death. "

The Book of Pearl by Timothee de Fombelle

Summary from Goodreads
Joshua Pearl is from a world that our own no longer believes in - a world of fairytale. He knows that his great love is waiting for him in that distant place, but he is trapped in our time. As his memories begin to fade, he discovers strange objects, tiny fragments of a story from a long time ago. 

Can Joshua remember the past and believe in his own story before his love is lost for ever?

I fell in love with Vango and Prince without a Kingdom, both written by Timothee. I loved them so much I hunted down more books by him, which lead me to this one.

This story is a fairy tale woven in with historical fiction. It tells the story of Joshua, who was taken out of his world and forced to struggle through ours. It also weaves in the story of Olia, his true love who must live in hiding - always watching but unable to get close to Joshua.

Though I don't typically enjoy romances, just not generally my thing, I adored this story. It was hard to put down at some points, and other points had the right magical feel to it one needs with a fairy tale. Of course, one reason I loved it so much were the WWII references. Though it doesn't focus strongly on the war it does have a role to play in Joshua's life.

So far Timothee has not disappointed me and I now look forward to the day his other books will be translated into English.

Four years have passed since tragedy broke Grace’s family apart

Sufficient Grace by Jessica Greyson

I love Jessica's books and this one was no exception. The story of Grace and her struggles through life were inspiring and encouraging.

Grace and her family have been hiding from their shattered past for years, but they are running out of places to flee to. To make matters worse, Grace is kidnapped by outlaws, and then saved by a deputy named Mitch. Mitch only seems to want to be her friend, but Grace isn't sure who she can trust and lives in constant fear someone will learn about her past.

Set in the old west, this story has the right amount of romance and action. With a mix of faith and sweetness it is a wonderful book to spend an afternoon reading.

Jessica's books have an almost simple, whimsical writing style to them which I just love. Her characters are amazing and always capture my heart - and by the end of it I usually fall in love with her hero. Mitch was no exception.

The way she wove Grace's struggles and Mitch's patience was inspiring and encouraged me a lot with my own struggles and past. I found I was able to relate to Grace, but also desired her to open up and trust. 

All of Jessica's books are worth the reading and this one is no exception. It left me longing for more books by her.

“If you find that not many of the things you asked for have come, and not perhaps quite so many as sometimes, remember that this Christmas all over the world there are a terrible number of poor and starving people.”

Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

Every December, the children of Tolkien would receive letters from Father Christmas himself. This adorable book contains all the letters, as well as the ones from Polar Bear. It includes delightful pictures which bring the magic to life even more.

This is definitely a book one should have as a Christmas tradition. The charm and magic only add to the Christmas spirit and I plan to add it to my must read list every year. Not only are the stories wonderful but the illustrations endearing. And I quite fell in love with Polar Bear and his many relations. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

“It's how I want to remember him, the way he was that night: with horrors up ahead and horrors at our back, and Lockwood standing in between them, calm and unafraid.”

The Hallow Boy by Jonathan Stroud

Summary from Goodreads...
As a massive outbreak of supernatural Visitors baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests throughout London, Lockwood & Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony Lockwood is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness in the team now that Lockwood has shared some of his childhood secrets, and Lucy is feeling more and more as if her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro.

Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including a house where bloody footprints are appearing, and a department store full of strange sounds and shadowy figures. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood & Co.'s concerns when assassins attack during a carnival in the center of the city. Can the team get past their personal issues to save the day on all fronts, or will bad feelings attract yet more trouble?

The ending of this book crushed me. I'm still not recovered. Things happened, things I was not okay with. Things which made me need the next book right away.

Still, even though it left me crushed, I loved this book. Each book in this series only gets better and better. I thoroughly enjoy this series.