Sunday, April 30, 2017

Emerald Green

Emerald Green Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I'm so relieved we finally have answers! Though I must admit some of the weavey-windey time travel stuff still doesn't make much sense to me. I shall chose to suspend my disbelief because in general, I really enjoyed this series, even if it should have been one big book. ;)

So what are my final thoughts?

I still feel like the relationship between Gideon and Gwen should have been given more time to develop. Considering how deep their connection ended up being, it would have made more sense if more time had elapse during Gwen's training. As the characters specifically mentioned several times, it didn't really matter how long it took in the future for them to go back because they could go back at any time TO any time. I really would have believed in their love more had it been given more time to grow instead of simply being "love at first sight."

If I'm reading the time travel/secret elixir shenanigans correctly, this is how things went down for Gideon on that last "day": Gideon travels from 2011 to 1786 with Gwen to drop her off and be threatened, and then back to 2011. Gideon then travels to 1912 to get Lucy and Paul's blood for the Guardians' chronograph, and while there, he drinks the elixir that he and Gwen produced when they closed their family's chronograph, and then he heads back to 2011. While in 2011, they put Lucy and Paul's blood in the Guardian chronograph, and Gideon travels back to 1786 to deliver the elixir to the Count. After Gideon leaves 2011, "Mr. Whitman" attacks the Guardians and locks most of them in the chronograph room to await Gideon's arrival back in 2011. What I don't get is, if the prophecy says that the person who was immortal stops being immortal when Gwen was born, why is Gideon still immortal? Is it because he went back in time from a time after Gwen was born and then took the elixir? And now his immortality will be unending because there's no more Ruby to be born to end it? I get that the point was for Gwen to have an immortal companion for the rest of her life, but how we got there could have been cleaned up a bit. Oh well.

I loved the bit in the epilogue where Lucy and Paul's new last name is Barnard! Does that mean it's their descendant who becomes the Montrose butler?? No wonder he knows so much and is so devoted to the family! I hope Gwen and family find that out so they can spend more time together.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sapphire Blue

Sapphire Blue Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If you haven't read book 1 in this trilogy, or even my review of book 1, I would highly recommend you stop reading here and check out Ruby Red. :)

I've said it once, and I'll said it again, and again, and again. This really should have been one big book. We've reached the end on the second book and it still doesn't really have any sort of separate, defined plot. That's often the problem with middle books in trilogies, but it seems especially pointed here. I'll leave it at that for now, as I really am enjoying this book series for the most part.

So, where are we now? Gwyneth, as the Ruby and the last Traveller, has the power of the Raven, which is most likely her ability to see ghosts of both people and demons. There are still only a few people that know she has this power, and even fewer who believe she's telling the truth. I'm not sure where Gideon falls on that scale, because when Gwyn was telling him about it, he was a little distracted, both by her being drunk and by wanting to kiss her. But her friend Lesley and Mr. George definitely know and believe her, and there's a possibility that the Count knows as well, though I can't figure anything out about the count and his intentions, really.

It's still unclear who is on who's side in this whole mess. I think the dividing line is going to come down to who cares more about Gwyneth's life than closing the circle and fulfilling whatever prophecy has been foretold, because I'm pretty sure the part that's been redacted by the Count and the reason why Lucy and Paul rebelled and ran away is that Gwyneth has to die to close the circle. I'm not sure why they would need more of her blood than the others', but that's the impression I've gotten.

It also seems important to the Count that Gwyneth be separated from Gideon, and I'm guessing it's because he wants to keep her closer to his side, and maybe that he didn't expect Gideon to actually fall in love with Gwyn. I'm pretty sure the Count gave Gideon instructions to make the Ruby, whether that be Charlotte or Gwyn, fall in love with him, because in his mind, a woman in love is controllable. The tables turned, though, when the Count realized that Gideon actually did love Gwyn, and that shifts the power towards Gwyneth and those who will want to save her (Paul, Lucy, Lady Tilney, probably others). I feel really bad for Gwyn because no one likes to be deceived, but you have to admit, she is very emotional, and she doesn't trust people easily (or at all, really).

Forgive my disbelief, but Gwyn and Gideon have known each other for maybe a week now. I have a hard time believing that they really are "in love" in a meaningful, forever type of way. That appears to be the path they are headed down, but speeding up the process just makes it feel less real and likely. As deeply as Gwyn claims to feel for Gideon, you'd think she'd give him a little benefit of the doubt. Only asking him a yes or no question isn't very fair, because it doesn't tell the whole story. Even if he went into meeting her with the task of making her fall in love with him doesn't mean everything he has said and done has been a lie, carefully constructed to win her over. Yes, it's hard to figure out who to trust, especially when your hormones and emotions are flying every which way, and people are hiding things from you at every turn, but in the end, you need to trust your gut, follow your instincts, and ignore what the creepy old guy is telling you.

My favorite part of this book has been Xemerius, the gargoyle-shaped demon-ghost who has quickly become Gwyneth's (and my!) best friend. He's so helpful and adorable and insightful, and he's become a great sounding board for Gwyn as she tries to figure out what the heck is going on. I just wish he could travel through time with her, because most of the danger to Gwyn seems to lie in the past, when she's visiting the Count & friends.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Be With You

Be With You Be With You by Takuji Ichikawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A gentle, thoughtful story that explores love and loss.

This book did NOT end the way I expected! I figured that ghost-Mio was probably not a shared hallucination, but I've read enough magical realism to immerse myself in the idea that ghost-Mio was able to come back for a short time to help Takkun and Yuji move on and regain some semblance of normal life again. Yuji was able to let go of some of his pain over feeling responsible for his mother's death, and Takkun was able to fall in love with his wife one more time, even while knowing she had to leave again.

And then! We find out that actually Ghost-Mio had come from the past and was Timetravelling-Mio! Love how open she was while getting to know Takkun and her son again, even though she had no memories of them. You could see how much she was falling in love with them and their life, and wanted Takkun to look at her and see HER, the woman returned (or so they thought), and not the memory of his dead wife. I think by the end of their 6 weeks, he really did see her for who she really was.

I really loved her letter, and how in the end, it wasn't just loving him that determined her fate, even though she did love him deeply, but it was also her choice. She chose to enter that life and bring Yuji in the world and everything that came with it, even knowing she would die, because she'd rather be with them than live longer. And that is what they mean by true love. I could read Mio's letter over and over again, it really is that special. It alone earned one of the stars I give this book.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Squirrel Girl so much! She's funny and sassy and kind and smart and super strong and TALKS TO SQUIRRELS. What's not to love? The fact that this book is written by Ryan North is just perfect - I've loved so many of the things he's done, and I love the voice he's given to Doreen/SG. Erika Henderson's art is perfect - it really feels like a classic comic, almost Archie-style, but full of depth. Also, I love that Squirrel Girl isn't a perfectly formed bombshell, she actually looks like a normal girl - with a tail, of course.

I've loved all of Doreen's adventures so far - heading off to school, trying to make friends and fit in, her obsession with her villain collector cards. I love how she defeats and subverts villains in unexpected ways, prioritizing friendship and a happy future for all over actually kicking butts.

All in all, if you're wondering if you should read this comic, then YES. The answer is YES.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ruby Red

Ruby Red Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one moved quickly, and I wasn't ready for it to end! And that's mostly because it DIDN'T end. It just stopped, mid adventure. This is the type of trilogy that should really just be one really long book, because even if it's a series, each book needs to have some sort of narrative arc in and of itself. As it stands, this first book just ends, with no real conclusion for any of the many plot lines or mysteries. I would roll right into the next book of the series, but I have to wait for my hold request to go through at the library. This lack of conclusion itself is one of the reasons why this book is getting 4 stars instead of 5, because I'm rather enjoying the storyline and characters for the most part.

Time travel can become very sticky, especially when multiple people can travel through time, and you never know where people have been and who they've already talked to and how they've influenced the timeline. It can be really hard to keep straight, even as an outside observer, so I can only imagine how hard to is for the characters to wrap their minds around and keep track of.

This book actually reminds me a lot of the Chronos series that begins with Timebound - a girl has the ability to time travel through her genetics, and must use it to save the world/reveal some sort of unknown secret power, and she doesn't know who she can trust, even those in her own family tree. At least that series seemed to have a clear goal: stop the dude from taking over the world and changing the course of history bit by bit. This one, not only can't I figure out who the bad guys are and who the good guys are, I can't figure out what anyone's goals are. What is going to happen when the chrono-thing is complete? Do they even know? Why do some want to stop it? Why would it be bad if the count knows about Gwenyth's abilities? Is that the Power of the Raven?

The only thing I'm a little disappointed by is that the relationships don't feel very developed yet. Plus, it added to the confusion at the end of the book, because I turned the virtual page to see what would happen next, because surely that wasn't the end, to discover the epilogue. Uh, what? I had to go back to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I'm hoping in the next book we get a little more insight into their relationship, more than just "you're different from other girls. You don't do what I say. It's so fascinating."

I also am really looking forward to learning more about Gwen's powers. Seeing ghosts and gargoyles is pretty cool and unique, and I wonder what it means, in the grand scheme of things. I'm especially looking forward to ghost James teaching Gwen all about the past, and maybe she can even meet him while he's still alive sometime! There's other interesting characters, too, like the best friend and the teacher. I'm curious about them, but hopefully the development of the main relationships won't be sacrificed for their sake.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Stone Heart

The Stone Heart The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


At this point, Rat and Kai's friendship is well-established (I ship it!), so this book mainly shows them growing closer and opening up more and more. Rather than focusing on Rat and Kai, we dive more into the parent-child relationships in the book.

We have Kai, who grew up with a strong mom and an absent father. I appreciate that Kai finally told Andren how he felt about his abandonment, that even if Andren told himself he was doing it for Kai's good, the result was the same: Kai had no relationship with his dad until he arrived at the city, and he hasn't yet earned the right to be respected as his father. I always wondering how Kai's parents came together, and why they lived so far apart. Theirs is definitely a sad story.

Rat's parents seemed very loving, and it's unfortunate that she lost them so young. I wonder who she would have grown into without that event shaking her life.

The saddest relationship was that between Erzi and his father the General. I knew Erzi was unhappy, entitled, whiny, and angry about "losing his birthright," whatever the heck that means, but (view spoiler)

I'm still trying to figure out Mura. I kind of liked her in the first book, but now that we're seeing behind the curtain into her twisted past, she is definitely a sneaky snake. She clearly has resentment towards the monks for kicking her out as a kid (I'm guessing what she'd tried to steal was that book?), and feels some sort of loyalty/devotion/love for Erzi, who saved her from the streets. I can't tell if Mura is manipulating Erzi or the other way around. Either way, sometimes she has a seriously crazy look in her eyes.

At this point, all we can do is hope that Andren and Kai's plans succeed.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this one - it was a great mix of action, adventure, mystery, and thoughtfulness. It's obvious to us as readers pretty much from the start what Melanie is, and it's fascinating that it takes her so long to recognize it herself. Maybe it's because, although she's extremely smart, she only knows what she's been taught. She's been told for years that she's a little girl, and so she believes that. She knows what a hungry is intellectually, but doesn't really she IS one until she truly feels the hunger. Once she realizes the danger she poses, she is the first one to suggest extra precautions to protect against her.

I love her relationship with Helen Justinbeau. It wasn't her intelligence that won Helen over, it was her obvious love and clear emotions. Those 2 were so devoted to each other, and I loved how they protected and helped one another.

Parks was an interesting guy - in many ways, he was just doing what he was taught, trying to keep as many people safe as he could. As he spent more time in proximity with Melanie, he was slowly won over by both her humanity and her obvious intelligence, and started to trust her more and more.

Dr. Cauldwell was so frustrating. On the one hand, her research was vital to figuring out how the hungry disease was spread and what the next step was. Without her findings, Melanie wouldn't have known what to do to help reboot the world, so to speak. To Dr. Cauldwell, the cost was worth it. But is the cost ever worth it when innocents are experimented on and killed in the name of progress, in the name of science? It sounds a lot like what the Nazi doctors did in WW2, what early researchers did across the world while conducting illegal research on uninformed and thus non-consenting human subjects.

I did appreciate how much the science made sense, the reasoning behind how and why Melanie and the other kids were different from the normal Hungries. I feel a little bad for the life Miss J will be leading from now on, but I think she will probably look on it as penance for the wrongs she committed, and as more and more hungry kids start awakening emotionally, she'll start to love them as much as she loves Melanie. Hopefully that's enough.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

The Nameless City

The Nameless City The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm so not shocked that I loved this - I have been enjoying Faith Erin Hick's work for years now. I picked this one up at comic con last year, but 2016 was quite the reading lull for me, so I hadn't read it yet. Luckily, book 2 comes out tomorrow, so I decided to finally read this one tonight.

I love how Kaidu and Rat's friendship develops. She is quite wary of him at first, but Kai's persistence and consistent friendship not only brings her to eventually trust him, but also to rethink the way she looks at Daos as a whole people. Kai gains not just a friend in Rat, but a really awesome and amazing friend. From Rat, Kai learns to be bold, work hard, and question what's going on around you.

This is such a fascinating look at the different way culture groups interact with one another. The Nameless City has a million names, yet no name at all. To the Dao, the Named city-dwellers are Skral, Not-Dao, not a person. To the Named, the Dao are conquerors, oppressors, murderers, thieves, invaders. Some of the Named hope to merely drive the Dao out, but who will fill that void? Kai's father, Andren, hopes to establish a council where all the surrounding countries and the Named run the city together. While it seems quite idealistic (and therefore far-fetched), the General seems convinced to at least hear him out, and we can thank Rat and Kai for that. (view spoiler)

The character who confuses me the most at this point is the General's son, Erzi. He clearly is not prejudiced against non-Daos - His bodyguard Mura is not of the Dao, and not only does he trust her with his life, he knows she the best fighter and that is right to defend her. Yet he is adamant that their army needs to be stronger to protect their hold over the city, and seems absolutely shocked and dismayed when his father says he'd like to meet with representatives from the city.

Just to briefly mention the art - I LOVE Faith's style, so it's not a shock that I love the art in this book. It's so lush and details and sweeping. The colors by Jordie Bellaire are just perfect, setting the tone in every scene, from the dusky early morning runs to the richly warm festival.

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