Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Anahita's Woven Riddle by Meghan Nuttall Sayres

What would you do if you were promised in marriage to someone you disliked? For Anahita, a nomadic weaver living in Iran in the 19th century, the answer is a riddle--literally.
When she learns that her father wants her to wed the leader of their tribe, a man she finds repulsive, Anahita becomes determined to have a hand in her own fate. She devises a contest, in which suitors must guess the meaning of a riddle woven into her wedding carpet. Her idea has unexpected consequences for those around her, and draws the attention of an extraordinary group of men, including a diplomat, a schoolteacher, a shepherd, and a prince. Who will match Anahita in this game of wits? Or, more important, win her heart?
This whole book was a treat. It took a little bit longer to read as a book of its size (300-plus pages) than usual, but it wasn't necessarily slow; it was very rich with details about Persian culture and offset very nicely with elements of poetry from that area and time period. Anahita was likable and, even with the culture and time gap, relatable. I loved that it focused on the country in a time where women were starting to reach out for more freedom. The perspective shifted enough to get a nicely well-rounded view of the country and its situation, as well as the suitors. Each character--even the minor ones--was enormously unique and charismatic. Well, except for the ones that were deliberately written to be jerks. Anyway, if you're at all interested in Middle Eastern cultures, I couldn't recommend it more. A beautifully written book, all around. It's at Kettleson and Sitka High.
(By the way, now that school's started, I'm going to be updating on the weekends from now on. Just FYI).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Daughter of the Flames by Zoë Marriott

Yeah, I know, my updates are pretty random. I'm working on it, sorry. Anyway...
Zahira is a young woman of the conquered Rua people, their country occupied by another, very different culture - the Sedorne. Zahira is an orphan and has been raised to despise and distrust the occupying population, as well as to be a devout follower of the native religion. But everything changes for Zahira when her home and foster family are destroyed and she finds out some shocking truths about her heritage and real family. Realizing that it is up to her to do something about the violence and upheaval that are tearing her country apart, she must learn to accept her Sedorne origins and try to bridge the gap between the warring cultures. But when her own people suspect her of treachery for her ideas - especially after she saves the life of a Sedorne nobleman and begins to fall in love - the epic task ahead of her seems insurmountable...
I think this book is pretty underrated. I don't know anyone who's read it, and it seems to kind of fly under the radar. I really liked it, though. It has a Graceling-esque feel to it, combined with The Girl of Fire and Thorns. There's a review of both in the archives somewhere if you haven't read them. Now, I can't give it equal status to Graceling, because Graceling's just that good, but I can say that it was a very good book and I would happily read it again. It has that somewhere-in-Asia, timelessly old feel that sometimes comes with a fantasy novel, and the visuals are excellent. Religion plays a fair part in this, but it fits right into the setting and characters. As a pretty nonreligious person, I can tell you that it didn't detract from the book at all; quite the opposite, it helped shape the main character and enriched the story. The supporting characters were charismatic, though they could have been a tad more developed. I would certainly recommend reading this, there's a copy at Kettleson.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Yaay! The blog got a makeover! What do you think of the new look? Good? Bad? Just tell me if it burns your retinas or something and I'll change it. Annywaaay...
All sixteen-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school--and life in general--with a minimum of effort. It's not a lot to ask. But that's before he's given some bad news: he's sick and he's going to die. Which totally sucks.
Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure--if he's willing to go in search of it. With the help of Gonzo, a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf, and a yard gnome who just might be the Viking god Balder, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America of smoothie-drinking happiness cults, parallel-universe-hopping physicists, mythic New Orleans jazz musicians, whacked-out television game shows, snow-globe vigilantes, and disenfranchised, fame-hungry teens into the heart of what matters most.
From New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray comes a dark comedic journey that poses the questions: Why are we here? What is real? What makes microwave popcorn so good? Why must we die? And how do we really learn to live?
So, yeah. It's about a guy who gets mad cow disease, and goes on this adventure to find a cure. Let me first start off by saying something: this book is unlike any I've ever read. Which is a good thing (I think). I kind of had to stop periodically and think "What the hell am I reading?" (excuse the mild language). That said, though, I quite enjoyed it. The weird, crazy, and twisted plotline and characters made me wonder about the mental health of the author, while making me laugh all the way through. It would be easy to write it off as just some crazy book, but submerged in the off-the-wall story were some thought-inducing questions. It was a little bit touching sometimes, in its own strange way. Anyway, I think Going Bovine works best if you've got an open mind, and don't mind a little craziness. This book definitely isn't for the faint of heart (or mind). Now, if you fit that description, I suggest you go try it out. (And remember, I'm not responsible for any damage to your sanity that may occur). It's over at Mt. Edgecumbe and Kettleson, and it also comes in audio form. Fancy.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Okay, guys, I'm trying out a new format. Hopefully, it should be simpler: Just the official summary and then more of my thoughts about the book. 
Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder's brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix things (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it "a matter of national security," but Cinder suspects it's more serious than he's letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder's intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that's been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter's illness, Cinder's stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an "honor" that no one has survived.
But it doesn't take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.
Okay, first of all, this book is part of a series. I liked it, but not quite enough to go rushing out and get the next one. Despite the interesting plot idea, it didn't quite hook me in. It felt like it was written by a fairly new writer; I wasn't even able to get a good mental image of the main character until I was more than halfway through the book--don't even get me started on the supporting characters. I also have to say that the flow of the story was just a little bit disjointed. What I will praise, though, is the author's creativity. The story diverged completely from the original Cinderella story--it brought in political elements as well as romantic ones, and was set in an interesting futuristic era. Overall, my impression of Cinder was good, but not great. You should judge it for yourself: it's at Kettleson.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Whoooo! More Contests and Events!

'Kay, I got two new events to tell you about, which I thought warranted a post. The first one:
It's an online contest for Teen Read Week. Basically, here's what you do: read any book and create a piece of art inspired or based on the story. There are no boundaries: it can be photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, manga, anything. The submission date is September 30th; to read the full details, click here. I think it's totally worth doing--and this is coming from the girl who has barely any artistic talent. If I can do it, so can you. If you are one of those people who's amazingly artistic, then I'm jealous and you have absolutely no reason not to enter. Plus, there's like, prizes and stuff. Who doesn't love prizes?

Now, the next thing is that the library's looking for volunteers to help out at the library on Friday, August 24th from 7 to 8 PM. There's a kid's event going on where they leave their stuffed animals overnight for a "sleepover." When the kids leave, the teens *pointed stare* will help the animals come alive by posing them and taking pictures of them doing activities after-hours. The kids pick up their animals and pictures the next day. 
So, c'mon. If you have a free hour that day, come and help. There's gonna be pizzzaaa! *fans yummy pizza smell toward you*. Cue Smokey Bear impression: Only YOU... can help out at your local library.
Oh, and all this is in the sidebar, too, so if you feel the need to read about it again or something you can look there. Okay. Now that you've endured my immense weirdness, scroll down to this week's review!

Oh. My. Gods.

Haha. Yeah, this book is pretty much as superficial as the cover makes it out to be. That didn't make it any less entertaining, though. I read it in a day, and didn't regret a single page. It's one of those guilty pleasure books, the ones that you're embarrassed to read in public but would happily read again. It was a nice light change from last week's book. Here's Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs.
Phoebe's life is right on track--literally. One of the best runners on her Southern Californian track team, she's thisclose to getting a track scholarship to USC and attending with her two best friends.Then, the bomb drops. Her mom comes back from traveling with a new fiancé and one-way plane tickets to Greece. That's how, to Phoebe's horror, she ends up moving to Serfopoula, Greece: a tiny, secret island on the Aegan. To top it off, her new step-dad has some unexpected news: the Greek gods are real. The island is a safe haven for their descendants (also gifted with superpowers). Phoebe has to start attending the exclusive academy there--despite the fact that she's the only "normal" one going there. It seems that securing that track scholarship is her only hope of escaping the island, but training and maintaining grades will be tough. Her new stepsister's bent on making her life hell, and Phoebe may have found her Achilles' heel in a godlike guy who's almost as infuriating as he is cute. One thing's for sure: finding the will to win and take control of her life may be the toughest course yet.
So, it's cheesy but not too cheesy. I like the main character, and elements of the plot are familiar but done well. I would recommend it to any middle through high school girl. It's enjoyable and relatable (well, except for the Greek gods part. I mean, not that the Greek gods part isn't enjoyable, but it's not exactly relatable--unless you have some very interesting news for me 0_o. Okay, I'm just gonna shut up now). Kinda like junk food for your brain. It's at Kettleson.