Monthly Archives: June 2013

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

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At the urging of my friend (and former boss) Monica, I picked up Under the Never Sky from the local library. It follows our main character Aria as she gets unceremoniously exiled from her futuristic dome/home Reverie. She’s in fear for her life, as she’s been taught that only cannibals and ether storms exist in the barren wasteland that is the “Death Shop.”

But when she meets Perry, a Savage, and learns that the politicians may not have been straightforward with the population of Reverie, she sets out on a quest to find her missing mother and learn the truth about herself.

It reminded me very much of an extremely watered-down version of Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee. Similar futuristic setting, similar scary desert, similar unexpected results.

I honestly can’t say I was very thrilled by UTNS, simply because it seemed too generically dystopian teen. I didn’t glean anything new from it and I had a hard time staying focused on the plot. None of the characters really came alive for me and I still haven’t decided if I’ll be continuing with the series… Beautiful cover art, generic story.

I think I’m just sick of everyone trying to crank out the next Hunger Games and SERIOUSLY falling short…

2.5 stars of 5


Butter by Erin Jade Lange

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What if the only way you could win popularity was by killing yourself?

This is “Butter’s” dilemma. As a morbidly obese teen in a high school full of jocks and Barbie-wannabe’s, he is worse than unpopular. He’s invisible.

All 430 pounds of him.

So when he decides to kill himself, he wants to go out with a bang. Inspired by a hateful blog comment about him, he makes a website called www.butterslastmeal.com . Fine, everyone thinks he’s a fat slob. He’ll show them. New Year’s Eve, he’s going to eat himself to death live on webcam.

So when his website garners him TONS of popularity around school, instead of mortification he feels good. Finally he’s getting noticed. Finally he has friends. So why does life have to be so sweet right now, at the very end?

This book was awesome and it’s so socially relavant I could weep. It addresses bullying and the wide range of feelings that come with it–good and bad. It’s interesting to understand that even though Butter was “popular” it was for all the wrong reasons, and his “friends” were really cheering on his death. That’s some crazy shit.

It sounds so cliche, but I loved Butter’s personality. I’m glad that he got mad and I’m glad that he fought back. His love interest, Anna, was a dumb little twit, and you could see him starting to realize that in little glimmers throughout the book. There was nothing to admire about her except her beauty.

I personally have never had to struggle with my weight, and for that I feel blessed. I can’t grasp what it’s like to use food as an emotional crutch, and maybe that’s why I’m so intensely interested in hearing people’s weight loss stories. To view food as a comfort mechanism is foreign to me, but a blight on so many others.

But Butter reminds us that no one is too far gone to be helped, and first and foremost you must love yourself–big or small.

4 sticks of butter of 5


Cruise Ink–Gainesville, FL

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“A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye.  As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition.”

-V. Vale and Andrea Juno, Modern Primitives

Hey Cracking Spines fans!

For all of you out there who are inked and inspired (or wannabe inked and inspired) my friend Collin Jordan is a great up and coming tattoo artist known as Cruise Ink and he’s based out of Clockwork Studios in Gainesville, FL. His unique style is a blend of traditional meets modern whimsy and he’s definitely a rising star to keep your eye on. I know where I’ll be the next time I’m in Florida. Collect your own original Jordan before it’s too late!

Love,

Chelsea


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

8621462Patrick Ness is definitely one of my new favorite authors. His Chaos Walking Trilogy was BOMB-DIGGITY and I’ll read anything by him from now on. I was really intrigued by the dark illustrations–they were hauntingly beautiful and breathed life into the story.

Cancer is a disease that has touched the entire world and Ness’s story was inspired by author Siobhan Dowd’s idea–one she would’ve written herself had cancer not caused her premature death before the story could come to fruition.

Conor is a young boy who has been forced to abandon childhood too soon in the face of his mother’s illness. Suddenly, at 12:07 at night–a monster stands outside his window. What follows is reminiscent of a Christmas Carol-type lesson as the monster teaches Conor a new lesson every night with each story. Each tale is used to give Conor strength for his mother’s inevitable final battle.

This was an AMAZING book. I highly recommend it for anyone who is left behind after a cancer-related death. Adult and adolescents alike could find some sense of comfort and meaning from this book. You’re right, sometimes life isn’t fair. And like stories, life is interpreted differently from every single point of view. Your version of the story isn’t the same as mine.

Stuff of greatness.

4 yew berries of 5


Above by Leah Bobet

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So… I just finished this book the other day and I still don’t really know what happened… The whole thing was so vague and confusing.

Above features Matthew, a teenage boy living in a subterranean cave/subway system known as Safe. It’s a haven for people with oddities, like his late lion-footed father and gilled mother. The leader, Atticus, has crab claws instead of hands. Got it?

Matthew is Safe’s “Teller.” He records and repeats the stories and histories of all of the underground residents. He’s in love with Ariel, a flighty waif of a girl who shape-shifts into a bee when under stress. He found her in the tunnels.

Life in Safe is secure until it is attacked by a former outcast member and its band of shadows. Yep, shadows are the enemy here and they can only be kept at bay with a lit match and are only killed with a torch. Now the group must risk going Above and the Whitecoats (aka mad scientists) in order to survive.

Believe me, this sounds interesting as hell, right?? I was tricked!! TRICKED! Tricked again by a beautiful cover!

To be fair, the premise was great. Powers and mutations and ghosts and shadows and hermaphroditic bad guys/girls…. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately, the stunted writing style, lack of description, and flat characters answered that question. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had to go back and re-read passages so many times. Bobet’s writing style made it hard to go with the flow and made things really unclear in many parts of the story.

Like I said, I read the whole book and I’m still not fully sure what happened.

The world was just not fleshed out enough, nor were the characters. All of them had weird names like Whisper or Corner and most of them went unexplained. And I HATED Ariel, Matthew’s love interest. I know she had a mental illness, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to punch her in the face. They could’ve avoided so much trouble if it weren’t for her!

I guess I was hoping it would have the haunting ethereal beauty of Tithe by Holly Black, but it didn’t even put its toe in the same swimming pool. Booo. Lots of amazing potential down the sewer.

2 burnt matches of 5


The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness

chaos_a_lHOLY EFF BALLS THIS WAS A GREAT TRILOGY! Woah. No, but seriously. I’ve read about 45 books so far this year (I’m typing this on 4/3) and Chaos Walking is the most original by a long shot! The Knife of Never Letting GoThe Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men–all amazing!

Our story follows two very different young protagonists. On one hand we have Todd, the youngest boy in Prentisstown. He desperately awaiting his 13th birthday, the day he’ll be a man. Too bad there’s only men in Prentisstown. Maybe there’s only men on the whole planet. Small-town Todd has no clue. On the other hand we have Viola, whom crash-landed on Todd’s planet–a crash that killed both her parents. They’re a scout ship for settlers on the New World. She’s highly intelligent and resourceful, good thing too, if she’s to survive alone in an alien world.

The thing is, the planet is infected with “Noise.” All the men on the planet anyway… (Women are mysteriously untouched). Noise means that everyone can hear your any thought–any time, any day. The “noise” in your head. And you can hear there’s too. Sucks right? It certainly makes it pretty hard to keep a secret.

To make a long story short, Todd and Viola unwittingly get in the middle of a HUGE world war. We’ve got the Men of Prentisstown lead by Mayor Prentiss vs the Spackle (the native alien race) vs the Answer (a group of female terrorists). It’s some pretty crazy stuff. You really never know who to trust.

Suffice it to say, I was VASTLY entertained. I got so much more out of this series than I bargained for and I think it

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was a great social commentary about how we treat our planet. This wasn’t some crappy love triangle ridden YA romance grasping at the straws of Science Fiction. This was the real deal. I loved that Ness included some gay characters in the series but didn’t make a big fanfare about it. In fact, you’d hardly notice unless you were looking for them. Every chapter ended with a cliff-hanger, and the constant change in perspective kept things fresh without being irritating.

I also read his ebook short story The New World which is the story of Viola’s trip to Todd’s planet. It was pretty good and FREE! Woo hoo.

It’s safe to say that Patrick Ness is one of those authors we need to keep an eye on, because I expect many great things to come.

5 iron bands of 5


The Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville

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It would be a severe underestimation to say I have been waiting for this series to be finished for a “long” time. Try practically my whole life! Let’s just put it this way: Into the Land of the Unicorns was published in 1994. Song of the Wanderer came out in 1999. And (wait for it….) NOTHING CAME AFTER THAT FOR YEARS! No, but seriously, years. I think this may have been the biggest literary “left hanging” experience I’ve ever had. Finally, after I FREAKING GREW UP (sorta) Dark Whispers was released in 2008 quickly followed by The Last Hunt in 2010.

A few weeks ago, I took the library by storm and finally finished a dusty chapter of my childhood.

The story begins when our young protagonist Cara is unceremoniously dropped into Luster as a last-ditch effort to escape a scary man that is chasing her and her grandma. Turns out grandma wasn’t exactly up front about her past life or Cara’s parents. In her younger, wilder years she was known as “the Wanderer” and befriended many magical creatures during her time in Luster–most especially the unicorns.

But unfortunately for Cara, she’s landed right in the middle of a centuries-old battle. Beloved–an ageless harpy with a personal vendetta against the unicorns–seeks to use the little girl’s amulet to get into Luster and slay the unicorns into extinction. OH SNAP.

That’s all I’m going to tell you, because you really need to read this series for yourself. I am SO happy that these books’ magic didn’t fade by being looked upon with adult eyes. Luster is an amazing world and all the creatures in it are beautiful and terrifying. And some have some surprising origins. (At one point I screamed “NO EFFING WAY!!”) I really have no complaints, and it doesn’t surprise me that Coville took 20 years to complete this series. There’s a lot of converging characters and A LOT of plot points. His world is very thought-out and researched.

And Medafil the griffin made me laugh out loud. I adored him.

Please please experience these books for yourselves!

5 silverly laughs of 5

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