Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Rule of Claw & City of Screams by John Brindley

The Rule of Claw and City of Screams drew me in because honestly, who doesn’t want to read about scarily intelligent raptors? Visions of Jurassic Park flitted through me as I pulled them off the shelf. I am all about some scary dinosaurs!

Unfortunately, this duo didn’t really live up to my expectations. Instead of RAWRRAWRAHHHHMYLEGSOMGIAMDYINGGGGG (I like I was hoping for) it was all about mutation, extinction, and evolution. Picture 11

TROC followed the teen Ash, leader of her little band of surfer kids. They are what appear to be the only human survivors, well… anywhere. They’ve been on their own for eight years, kept “safe” by some chicken wire fence and KEEP OUT signs. That is, until Ash is kidnapped by vicious raptors and learns that they are more civilized than she ever thought possible. Things are changing on her island and its up to her to help her friends survive. Then the futuristic “Adults” show up and piss on everything.

COS takes place several generations after TROC. The ancestors of Ash’s clan have evolved and mutated over time into Ground “Agles” and Air Agles. Ground Agles are stout and hobbit-like and Air Agles are like angels. Except with flesh-colored bat-like wings, not pretty feathered ones. Phoenix longs to be an agile Air Agle instead of a heavy, stumpy Ground Agle. Especially since the boy she loves is a creature of the air. The raptors and the Agles have maintained a shaky truce for many years, but after a gruesome incident that Phoenix is responsible for… all bets are off. And then the now VERY CHANGED Adults show up and once again piss on everything.

I did enjoy these books because they were full of social commentary. Not all of the raptors were bad, some were endearingly human. I LOVED Little Three. So cute. But because they were human-like, they had a very flawed society. Ash and her clan were very Lord of the Flies-esque. In fact, this series is a mix of Lord of the Flies and Jurassic Park, with a pinch of Star Wars thrown in for good measure. An odd combo, to be sure but the world building was good. Brindley also stirred religious zealots (worshippers of Lord Genome) into the mix–underlining the point that not everything Adults do in the name of God is innately virtuous.

*slow clap*

imagesHowever, I did wish that the chapters were longer. Each one was only 1-3 pages and the constant POV changes could be irritating at times. Ash’s clan also had their own little weird language and that was off-putting. I guess that’s what sixteen year olds would sound like if they’d been abandoned at eight and left to their own devices, but still. The names were kind of cringe-worthy too. Lord Genome made me smirk but Professor Helix (a scientist that studied–you guessed it!–DNA)… That’s just dumb. Then generations down the line, when the Agles and Rodents were named Phoenix, Sapphire, Ha Ha…. Why?? Why were they named that?? If you’d been on an island for so long that you weren’t even human any more, how would you know what a Phoenix was? Or a Sapphire? What are you guys anyway, strippers? All that was missing was a character named Cinnabuns or some shit.

I give four stars for creativity, but I’m taking one away for cheese factor. “City of Screams” was a VAST exaggeration.

3 flesh-eating plants of 5

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The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

6609748Ok, the actual title is The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #1). Phew. I think the only books with longer titles are those in the Octavian Nothing series… Dang. 

TMH is a quaint Lemony Snicket-esque tale of a young governess who discovers her first charges are a bit more than she bargained for. You know that expression “raised by wolves?” Well, they were actually raised by wolves–until Lord Ashton found them while out hunting one day. Too bad his young new wife wants to send them to an orphanage if Miss Lumley can’t straighten them out.

Does she have enough time to civilize them before the Ashton’s all-important Christmas party?

I found TMH in the Young Adult section of my local library, but I feel like it really should’ve been in the children’s section. It was all very quaint and proper and well, boring. Call me desensitized, but I’m just not really that enthralled by three howling “wild” children–any and all of which are still more well-behaved than children I see in Walmart.

Do they have special powers? No. Ok, do they turn into anything? No. Ok, well are they witty and funny? No. Are they forever getting into hilarious misadventures? Not really.

So, eh…

Skip it. (Unless your extremely religious and easily offended sister-in-law comes over and leaves her offspring with you. In which case, this book is safe to read to the spawn).

2 squirrels of 5


The Kissing Game by Aidan Chambers

I was really really hoping this was Ian Somerhalder’s biography that I happened across, but alas, it wasn’t. The Kissing Game is actually a collection of short stories by British author Aidan Chambers. (Way less titillating, I know!) Kissing_Game_cover

Unfortunately, TKG didn’t titillate me at all. The description on the jacket cover makes it sounds SO much better than it actually is.

“Aidan Chambers explores moments of truth, when a character or an event suddenly reveals an often-surprising meaning: A girl loses her humanity when she takes a summer job as a theme-park character; a boy tries to save a girl from a fiery death, only to discover the same event happened one hundred years before. And the titular story, in which an innocent game takes a fatal turn, will haunt the reader for a long time.”

NO.

I mean, yes. All of these things technically happened, but they were nowhere near as exciting as you’re lead to believe. I usually have a few favorites in a book like this, but no. To be fair, this is supposedly an example of a newish genre of story-telling, as explained at the back of the book. Flash fiction. I’d never heard of it but by definition it:

“Often contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten – that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline. Different readers thus may have different interpretations of the flash fiction.”

Many of these “stories” were simply conversations. Some were only two pages long. None of them inspired me or captured my attention. Maybe that makes me unsophisticated. Sorryyyyyyy.

I just want a little more *ahem* story to my stories, you know?

2 agoraphobic stutterers of 5


The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker

After a deadly rabies virus is unleashed on the city of Los Angeles, fifteen year old Sherry and her family have not left their underground bunker in more than three years. Three years, one month, one week, and six days to be exact. Trapped inside with her two younger siblings, her squabbling parents, her ceaselessly knitting grandma, and her dead grandpa–who’s been in the freezer for the last six months.

Kinda puts you off your frozen peas, doesn’t it? the weepers

But Sherry and her dad have to make a hard decision when they run out of food eight months earlier than expected. They have to go outside and face whatever’s left of the outside world. Turns out, the Weepers are what’s left. Ugh.

Imagine zombies, but kind of rotting animals too. There are different kinds of Weepers–so called because of the milky fluid that runs out of their eyes when you kill them. Gross. Some walk upright and look mostly normal, others are down on all fours and look monstrous. All have a taste for human flesh. All of them creeped me out.

Only hours after Sherry and her dad leave their bunker, the Weepers attack. All seems lost until a handsome stranger shows up, guns blazing. Unfortunately, once the dust settles, a large puddle of blood is the only thing left of Sherry’s father. Is he still alive? And even if he is, where could he be?

Can Sherry and her new friend Joshua find him before it’s too late?

And where has the government been this whole time??

Do me a favor with this book and please please please IGNORE the cover. It’s totally ridiculous and off-putting. (I judge books by their covers, so sue me…) The book itself is actually really fast-paced and entertaining. I read it all in one sitting. I understand that the market is being flooded with post-apocalyptic YA zombie novels, but TOL actually holds its own. There’s a big enough twist to the virus for it to be untraditional and for some reason the Weepers reminded me of really creepy raptors or something. It’s that nasty blood-thirsty run they do, I think.

I just can’t imagine living in a world so fraught with peril… (I just said “fraught with peril” *tee hee*). Even the “safe” havens aren’t really that safe. There’s no way I’d be sleeping alone in Zombieland.

From what I understand, TOL’s sequel The Life Beyond is supposed to be released this weekend. I will definitely snag it soon.

5 strips of peeling flesh of 5

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The Gathering and The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

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Of course I always choose to read books who turn out to be part of a trilogy… *sigh* Doesn’t it seem like they aren’t allowing any YA fiction to be stand alone novels anymore?? But I digress…

I read many of Armstrong’s Women of the Other World books as a teenager. I remember LOVING them. I also read her Darkest Powers trilogy. They were good–cute and fast reads. Turns out, the first two of the Darkness Rising trilogy are the same way. Except better.

The Gathering introduces us to our protagonist Maya. She lives in a small medical research town on Vancouver Island and has a strange affinity for animals. It seems as though they’ll obey her and heal quickly in her presence. She also has a paw print-shaped birthmark on her hip. But, whatever, we all have strange things about us, right?

After her best friend’s drowning death, weird things start happening in Salmon Creek. Maya’s guy pal Daniel has an uncanny ability to know when others are trustworthy, and some of the other students are showing signs of interesting abilities as well. Rafe, new guy at school, knows more than he’s letting on and seems to share some significant connection with Maya. Not to mention, cougars keep following her around…

The Calling follows Maya and her friends on a death-defying adventure across Vancouver Island. A forest fire has decimated the area and Maya and her friends have been kidnapped. It seems as though those scientists they’ve grown up with all their lives aren’t as trustworthy as they once appeared to be…

I really can’t go into too much detail of the second book without giving away the first, but they were both really good. I could see taking them to the beach for a light, fast-paced read. Don’t expect them to change your life, but I did find them much more engrossing than the Darkness Rising trilogy. Maya’s relationship with her parents reminded me a lot of my own. Daniel is a great best friend and Rafe… I haven’t decided how I feel about him yet.

I like what Armstrong did with the Indian lore and the cat connection was refreshing. At first I felt like she’d cheated a little by using the same story template as her DR trilogy–but once I realized the two stories were vaguely connected it made more sense. I’ll definitely be looking out for book three.

Read it in the bathtub.

4 paw prints of 5

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Quote of the Day: Dolly Parton

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“I’m not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I know that I’m not dumb. I also know I’m not blonde.”

-Dolly Parton

(Like my new haircut, guys?) 🙂


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone has all the elements of successful YA fiction. Magical powers, hot guys, scary monsters, and one ungainly female protagonist. Throw all those into a giant stew pot, add a pinch of Russian influence, and you’ve got the basic premise of S&B.

Alina Starkov and her best friend Mal are members of the First Army. She’s an apprentice cartographer and he’s an expert tracker. She’s gawky and bumbling and he’s gorgeous and talented–she’s sure the only reason they’re still friends is because they bonded at the orphanage after the war-torn country killed their parents. 10194157

Imagine her surprise when the Darkling, second only in power to the king, takes interest in her after an “incident” in the Fold. (The Fold, also known as the “Unsea” is a stretch of land completely engulfed in darkness and filled with monsters).

Maybe there’s more to Alina than meets the eye.

I really enjoyed Shadow and Bone and it wasn’t until I finished it that I read other reviews. Seems like a lot of people have been bitching because Bardugo messed up some of the Russian language words and names she used in the book. Everyone’s totally giving her a hard time for not researching enough. Considering the only thing I know about Russians is that they drink a lot of vodka and spit everywhere when they talk… I didn’t notice.

I do agree that someone should have been there to check the facts (her editor, maybe?) But to play the devil’s advocate, Bardugo said the novel was based on Russian culture. It’s still a made up world. Frankly, since I didn’t notice anything wrong… I don’t really care. The story was good and the Darkling was sexy. I liked the descriptions of the Grisha and all of their unique powers. (I want to be Genya, the girl who can make herself more beautiful at will!)

This is young adult fiction. Stop taking everything so damn seriously. Put away your Russian dictionaries and carry on.

5 mythical deer of 5

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