Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Devouring

by Simon Holt

“They lurk in the cold and dark. Hungry and wicked, they wait for their one chance to devour the weak on Sorry Night. Then the Vours feast on a banquet of fear. Your fear. They steal your soul but your body remains. No one knows the difference.”
Regina Halloway has been an obsessor of horror movies and gruesome comics since she was a little girl. She’s not afraid of any of them -- rather, they give her a delightful chill and help to keep her thoughts away from her mother, who abandoned their family a year ago. Now Reggie has to be one to take care of her eight-year-old brother, Henry, and she finds it an exhausting burden. So when Reggie finds an old journal called The Devouring at the bookshop where she works, it seems like the perfect thing to immerse herself in. But when Reggie reads part of the book to Henry as a bedtime story, she couldn’t imagine the disaster that would follow. “Vours,” dark things that invade your body and devour your soul, are especially active on the Winter Solstice -- and guess on what night Reggie reads the story aloud? Reggie doesn’t know what to do or who to trust, but she does know one thing: she has to defeat the Vour that takes over her little brother…while at the same time keeping herself from being consumed by her own fear.

This was, essentially, a horror novel. I wasn’t expecting that (I think I’d read the summary a while ago and forgotten what exactly it was about), and while it wouldn’t usually be my kind of book, I enjoyed it a lot. The Devouring was a pretty creepy story (if you have a fear of freakish demonic clowns, beware!) with good characters and enough emotional fear to make it seem realistic; it wasn’t all just undead people and stuff like that. I appreciated that Reggie’s best friend Aaron was a boy who, while he could have been gay, it never said either way, and he didn’t secretly like her, either. It was refreshing. The only thing I found strange was that Reggie was the protagonist, but then there would be some random bits (not even whole chapters, usually) where it seemed almost from Aaron’s or Henry’s points of view. Otherwise, nicely done.

I was very glad to find that this is the first in a series -- so far no title or release date for a book #2, but I’ll definitely keep an eye on Simon Holt and hope that he writes fast. Visit www.thedevouring.com for more info.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Flora's Dare

How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room)
by Ysabeau S. Wilce

While it is possible for it to be read as a stand-alone, Flora’s Dare is the smashingly good sequel to Flora Segunda (my review), so go read that first, as it is also an imaginative work of Extreme Originality. I shall try to refrain from spoilers for those who have yet to read the first.

Flora Segunda’s latest adventures begin with an essay on what she learned last term, made up of the most unusual lessons that also serve as a cleverly un-boring reminder to readers of what transpired in the last volume. This time around, Flora has to deal with a now-sober father who tries to keep Crackpot Hall in military order, from Flora’s lessons to what time she goes to bed. But Flora is desperate to learn the magickal language of Gramatica, an essential for becoming a ranger like her role model, the legendary Nini Mo. When the chance to see disguised magician Firemonkey play in the band he uses as a cover, she leaps at it.
During the concert, a large tentacle suddenly grabs Flora, who believes she has discovered the cause of the mysterious earthquakes that recently began shaking Califa. She has to stop it before the entire city collapses on itself, but how will it ever be possible the only people she can turn to for help is one of her mother’s enemies (and a dashing one at that), Crackpot Hall’s whiny, dissipating Butler, her overly fashion-conscious best friend Udo (who is also obnoxiously obsessed with the supercool, sophisticated Zu-Zu), and a plushy pig? Oh, and she’s confined to her room until her mother (Commanding General of the Warlord’s Army) returns from Fort Jones, and who knows when that will be?

After the highly exciting, extremely original and, quite frankly, bizarre first novel in the series, Flora’s Dare does not disappoint. The characters develop nicely (although some things Udo does don’t seem to fit him at all), the action and adventure move along at breakneck speed, and it never, ever lacks in inventiveness in any way. The only thing left to say is, Ms. Wilce, when shall the sequel be released?
There are a few more mature themes in Flora’s Dare than there were in Flora Segunda.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fun at Borders

Who but true book addicts are able to spend a solid two hours at a bookstore for something fun to do? Apparently Tyto Alba (my sister), myself, and our friend Gem really love reading because that's how we spent Thursday evening. (I think the employees actually thought we might be shoplifting or something, because we got some strange looks after an hour or so.)

I always bring paper and a pen so I can write down titles of books that look interesting, of which there were a lot before I started blogging and reading blogs. But last night...I found only seven books that I want to read, a few of which I was already aware. Blogging is so awesome because now I hear about so many more books than I used to.
For example, my friend picked up Evernight and asked, "Is this a vampire book?"
"Yep," I answered after a very quick glance at the cover. I haven't even read it.
Later on, "Is this book good?"
Me: "It's supposed to be."
Gem: "You know everything! How do you know everything?!"

It was quite entertaining.

After finally exhausting the YA section, Gem skimmed the manga, my sister and I drooled over the "British TV" DVD section, we all laughed over the stupid romance novels, and then ate chocolate in the café area.

Gem needed a new book now and bought Hilary Frank's I Can't Tell You. I want to read it, too, but I'm getting it from the library. I have a $25 gift certificate and might have bought something, too, but always have trouble deciding what to buy.

Friendship, books, and chocolate, what else can you want?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Update. Changes?

This hasn't been the most active blog recently. The truth is I've become a bit too used to Goodreads, where I can just toss out some random thoughts and not have to write a real review.

I just went through our really long blogroll and edited out the links that are broken or blogs that haven't been updated in many months. If you read this blog and don't see your name on the list, sorry! Leave a comment and I'll add your blog link ASAP.

And I was wondering...what do you, faithful reader, want to see different on this blog? Could you please answer the poll on the sidebar? And a comment if you have any suggestions to make it more exciting. I've gotten a bit lax about posting, so I think I need something new to add to my recommendations and get me more excited again. :-)

Ink Mage