Thursday, April 28, 2011


In a year I'll forget I ever read this book. But I'll be drifting off to sleep and will have a quick flash of rememberance of the architectural drawing of the detailed floorplan of the house, with the mother lying in the fetal position on her bed and the two boys looking for their father in the other rooms. Then my mind will drift to the pattern on the wall of the living room on the cover, and then I will remember how Harvey turns invisible, and I will want to read it again.

HarveyHarvey by Hervé Bouchard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heart attack kills the father of two young boys, leaving their mother to raise them alone. One of the boys, Harvey, is obsessed with an old movie that no one else cares about.

Reading this book is like finding a moleskine someone left at a table in an independent coffee shop. You could pick it up, flip through, digest quickly and forget everything as soon as you close the last page. The book would seem confusing and pretensious and the character drawings juvenile. Or you could savor, take your time, and still feel the book resonate in your head long after you close it.

The art, while the characters are stripped down and simplistic, the textures and colors and backgrounds are so beautiful and detailed. Patterns drift off clothing onto the page and reform to mean something else.I want to take the wallpapers and fabric patterns off the pages and dress my house and myself in them. I want to live in this book, until it gets too sad.

The story of grief is so simple seeming, while at the same time, asks big questions. In addtion to grief the book touches on questions of existance. How often do you ponder that everyone knows a slightly different version of someone then everyone else knows. The father I know is not the exact same father my sister knows, while at the same time, he is father to us both, and it is the same for Harvey and his brother Canton and their father. The pages without text sometimes speak as loudly as those with a paragraph.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

I love a good pun, so of course I had to pick up this book as soon as I heard the title. Usually this pun-based readers advisory system fails, but this time I was not at all disappointed.

Hold Me Closer, NecromancerHold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Samhain LaCroix is just existing post-high school. He has a crappy fast food job, but good friends and a supportive mom and sister. One otherwise normal day an encounter with a bad customer changes Sam's life forever. The customer, Douglas, is a local necromancer and one of the most powerful paranormal people in Seattle. No one dares cross him. He recognizes that Sam has a small necromancy power and from that point on makes Sam's life hell. When threats don't work Douglas actually kidnaps Sam.

While in captivity Sam meets Brid, a female were-fae hybrid roughly his age. Despite the awful circumstances--sparks fly between them and being held together helps make the situation more bearable for both, especially since Sam is being "taught" necromancy by Douglas. Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) for Sam, Douglas's idea of teaching more closely resembles torture.

The hijinks are wacky but the non-stop wisecracking is broken by moments scary, sad, and touching. The characters, especially Sam and co. (especially his best friend, Ramon), are quickly but expertly developed. Actual character motivations drive actions, which is refreshing in the paranormal YA genre (which is often plagued by characters only reacting in ways to drive the plot, no matter how against character the reactions seem.) Characters are added in through-out the story, including a sassy 10 year old ghost and Brid's protective family, setting up for future sequels while helping to wrap this adventure up nicely.

This book was just the right mix of slacker redemption story and paranormal romance. The humor didn't overwhelm the serious bits or vice versa. As an added bonus, each chapter heading is a song reference, and while some might be a little old...I doubt many people will have trouble getting the joke(s). The paranormal genre is oversaturated, especially in the YA market, but this fresh book is well worth checking out whether you are a long-time genre fan or just want to dip a toe in to see what all the fuss is about.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Tyger Tyger (not Tiger Tiger)

I really enjoyed this story. Every time I had to put it down I couldn't wait to get back to it. But, I don't think that the Chicago of this book is representative of the city I live in. The story is good though and I don't want this one to get lost in a sea of Irish-flavored urban fantasy. So if you like Marr, Black, or Clare don't forget to try Hamilton.

Tyger Tyger (Goblin Wars, #1)Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Teagan Wylltson leads a busy life. She has an exciting job at a primate house, a supportive best friend, and a fantastic and supportive family. One day she comes home from work to find a cousin she didn't know existed would be moving in with them. But Finn brings more with him than just a troubled foster family history, he unintentionally brings an entire fantasy world and attendant monstrous creatures.

Hamilton has based her elaborate mythology on Irish faery lore, and she does a great job with integrating the mythology into the story. The sidhe that terrorize Teagan's family and wreak havoc on her life are terrifying and the tension doesn't let up often in this tale. When their father is kidnapped by the faeries, Teagan and her little brother Aidan must go with Finn into the evil faeries lair to save him. In the midst of turmoil we see a budding relationship between Teagan and Finn (who are not actually related) and a rekindled relationship with Finn's biological (and their mother's adoptive) grandmother Mamieo. This book has a little bit of everything, and while it doesn't focus as much on the romance as Wicked Lovely, is a great read-alike for people who like that brand of urban fantasy. The characters seem very much like real people, people you've met. They just happen to have very unreal problems.

The book suffers from a few lapses in timing/pacing and locale. People who don't live in the Chicagoland area would probably never notice how strange the covering of ground by this family seems. Chicago is a place of many diverse and distinct neighborhoods, and this book doesn't acknowledge that at all. The pacing also seemed off, this story takes place over the course of months maybe? But it feels like a day with disproportionate amounts of time spent on Teagan's time in the ape house. It was a great way to get to know Teagan and be introduced the the story, but then important parts of the actual story felt rushed and told more than shown. All in all this book is a promising beginning to another urban fantasy YA series. It's set apart by being lighter on the romance and heavier on the lore than many of the other series that seem to focus too much on eternal love and finding The One in a post-Twilight world.

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