Friday, September 22, 2017

reviews from Saleena 9/22/17

Here we go.

I'm not sure how to feel about this book.  I like the back and forth-ing and the character development.  Mike and his friends aren't specifically any group, just guys with a sort of band and they kind of hang out and do lots of nothing.  Then Mike starts to realize a few things, and yes, part of it is liking guys; but my problem is not that, it's that Mike says "he guesses he's bi now" and everyone sort of takes that as an excuse; like when are you really going to tell us you are gay?  So I was waiting for the author to throw in moments of "nope, I like guys and girls" but instead, he actually does have the character come out as gay.  The reason I bring this up is that being bi-sexual is so many times relegated to someone who just won't "pick a side"; and I was hoping that this would actually fill in some gaps instead of playing to the stereotype.  Other than the issue raised above, it is pretty well done.  Mike has a supportive family and his struggle is really figuring out if his friends will still like him (a valid concern for a teen); and if the boy he likes is worth all the aggravation of coming out.  Goslee does a good job, and I like the solid and supportive environment he provided and the characters felt spot on.  I just wish the bi issue hadn't been mentioned, or had been addressed at all, instead of as a place holder status until the character was ready to admit he was gay.

Ok, I admit that the cover pulled me into this one.....and I think, for the right reader, this would be a good book.  For me, it was rough, for a number of reasons.  The action is good, the main characters nicely written (if a bit predictable); but my sticking point was the constant references to "the great creator" and lessons about the nature of god and creation (it felt like a church lecture); and also, the massive amounts of math/geometry references.  I really struggle with geometry and spatial relationships, so it pulled me right out of the story every time they referenced "divine geometry" or whatever other terms they used.  I did like the bird-like "geniuses" that somehow magically focused your talent; but....why focused on MATH?  SHAPES?  For someone who is looking for a more intellectual fantasy with puzzles and such; this might be good...for someone looking for a fun escapist adventure; definitely not.

Cloud and Wallfish was NOT one I expected to like, but I genuinely fell in love.  Wallfish is actually Noah, who is pulled unexpectedly out of school one day and told that he is going along with his parents on a grand adventure, to East Germany (this was set during the time just before the wall came down and Germany was unified).  He has been given a new name, Jonah and he has a whole bunch of rules to follow, because they will be spied on and they don't want anyone to think they are spies.  But ARE his parents spies?  It's alluded to, but not specifically addressed, because this is Noah's story.  In East Berlin, he has no friends (because he stutters and he is an American Spy); but meets Claudia and due to pronunciations, they become Cloud and Wallfish (the German word for whale sounds like wallfish to Noah).  Claudia is struggling because her parents have disappeared and her grandmother is a mess, paranoid and falling into a depression.  We are told her parents died, but Claudia is convinced that they are in "heaven" which is West Berlin and they just abandoned her.  The two of them are pulled into the intrigues and tension of the times and Noah is struggling to figure out the world, his parents, his role and how to be Claudia's friend and supporter.  I really love this book.  I think what made it even better is that every so often a "secret file" would interrupt the story to explain what was going on, or provide outside detals none of the characters knew. All of those details really helped place the reader right there and understand what was happening, even more fully than the characters.  Check this one out, it's worth the time.

I put off reading this for a long while.  Not because I don't like Garth Nix or the Abhorsen trilogy but because I LOVE them; and I was SO disappointed with Clariel that I thought this would be just as awful.  It wasn't, it was wondeful.  Goldenhand starts a few years after the events of Abhorsen and features Lireal (one of my favorite characters).  There is a new big bad, who is really the same one, that didn't really die due to sorcery.  Lireal finds out how to truly send Chlorr into death, and it's by finding her original body.  Can she do it with an army of barbarians on the way to destroy them all?
I can't wait to hear this on audio (it's not out yet); and I am so glad Nix put this book out, it was amazing.

Teen Hyde just looked like a fun creepy book....and it was.  Baker does a good job of explaining the two parts of the main character (Cassidy and Marcy).  There is murder and mayhem and is a fun, quick read for teens who enjoy horror stories.

I misunderstood this one, thinking it was giants doing smuggling (like really big pirates); but instead it's about a boy who finds a giant that is being hunted for his extraordinary DNA by evil scientists...and he has to smuggle the giant to safety and also the kids have to defeat the evil scientists.  This is a cute adventure that will definitely appeal to younger tweens and teens....a fun, fast read.

This is part two of the Devil's Engine series, and even though I didn't love the first one, I figured I would try the next section anyway.  Honestly, some of the issues I had with the first one, were dealt with in this issue, and the writing is strong.  Some parts of it were predictable, but it was creepy and interesting and well paced.  Not my favorite book series, but I think teens will love it; and that is who should love it.

Argos was my most disappointing book; because I was hoping that either Argos would have some adventures, or maybe he snuck along somehow and was there with Odysseus on his adventures.  Instead I have a dog who is at home, recounting the troubles at home, while hearing about the adventures of his master from birds he has scouting and looking for him.  It makes the adventures of Odysseus very dry (they are told second hand and in a very brief synopsis....from BIRDS); and the rather intriguing things happening at home became also boring ...lots of "I wish my master were here" moments...not the book I was hoping for.  On a side note, kudos to the cover artist, that dog looks AMAZING and truthfully was one of the main reasons I tried to love this book.

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