Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sing Out

From the good folks over at VSL another fun website. This one is called Let Them Sing it For You. It was created for the internet platform of Src for Swedish National Radio. The idea is that you type a sentence in and the words are sung back to you. Each word is taken from a different song, with a different famous singer and a different melody.

The site is extremely simple looking a gray site comes up with the name, a red play button and a message telling you if the window doesn't pop up click here. The pop up window is even simpler a box for text with a play button on the bottom. You simply type in your words and hit the play button. Then it plays for you. Once your message has been played back to you, you have the option of e-mailing it to a friend.

The words you hear in any given sentence can come from 1989 Wicked Games by Chris Isaak to what could be a Def Leopard song. My favorite part of this program is trying to figure out what song each word comes from.

Legacy by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Lucas finds out that his father is wealthy billionaire Clayton Hartwell, who by night is the superhero Raptor. Clayton is getting on in age and looking for a replacement. When Lucas' mother is murdered by the Science Club he decides to try and take up the mantel of the Raptor to take revenge; however there may be more to what's going on then meets the eye.

My only complaint about this novel is that it's so short. They could have explored and gone further into several different elements of the story. The author really had the opportunity to explore good and evil and the shades of gray that exist in between them.

***Spoiler*** He also could have spent more time going into the Raptor's mental state and the explanation of his past and what exactly happened with his other children. ***Spoiler Ends***

This was an enjoyable book but it could have been so much better.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Invincible: The Ultimate Collection Volume 4 by Robert Kirkman

Invincible is Mark Grayson's tale. He is the son of Omniman, an extraterrestrial superhero. If you have read previous volume's then you know that Ominman was actually sent here to prepare the earth for takeover. When Mark found out he defeated his father and has since become a superhero in his own right, Invincible.

I love Invincible, it just keeps getting better and better. Even though this graphic novel doesn't hold back on violence, I think it's a great young adult pick because Mark is trying to deal with life as a high school and then college student; including trying to attend classes and having first loves. He is trying to figure out if going to college was the right decision for himself and a lot of people feel that way after they first start college. In the middle of this he is trying to keep the earth from being taken over by other mutants, aliens and super villains. The colors and artwork are vibrant and phenomenal as usual and I can't wait to see what's going to happen next.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman

Rick, a cop, gets shot and goes into a coma. When he wakes up, zombies have taken over the world. He miraculously finds his family and they and several other survivors ban together to try and make it through the end of days.

I love that they decided to do black and white illustrations, it really adds to the feel of the book and gives it the air of a zombie movie. The author states in the introduction that he is trying to look into the human spirit and how it handles situations such as these. He has definitely succeeded. This is not another goofy zombie book. This book is all about how it's characters interact with each other and grow as people (or don't grow, as the case may be.)

Lone Wolf & Cub, Vol. 2 The Gateless Barrier by Kazuo Koike

This book is just as beautifully illustrated as the first book in the series was. Unfortunately, like the last book it was mostly focused on showcasing individual adventures rather then how each adventure relates to Lone Wolf as a person/character.

The lack of closure in individual stories was also starting to bother me in this volume. We never learn what happens to the other characters involved in Lone Wolf & Cub's adventures, which was especially frustrating in chapter where Diagoro is accidentally captured and helped by a servant girl. I really wanted to know what happened to the servant girl after she was rescued.

I am not really sure if this manga series is supposed to have an over arching story line or not, and while there are certain really wonderful attributes to this series I don't think I will be reading anymore of them.

Raven Summer by David Almond

Liam and his friend Max find an abandoned baby in a meadow. Liam's writer father and artist mother end up making friends with the baby's foster family and eventually his mother decides to adopt her. Liam makes friends with two of the other foster children, Crystal and Oliver. When Liam finds out Oliver's true story, he must evaluate what he thinks about friendships and life in general.

This was an extremely quick read; however the subject matter is extremely heavy and thought provoking, so I recommend reading this when you have the time to devote to it. Although this is a very heavy read, it is written beautifully and in such a way that the heaviness of the subject matter doesn't detract from the beauty of the writing itself (if that makes any sense). Basically it is written well enough that I didn't feel boggged down by all of the depressing (if you think about it) subject matter.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Serendipity Market by Penny Blubaugh

I loved this book. Mama Inez knows that the tilt of the world is off and they need the power of stories to set it right. Mama Inez invites 10 people to the market at the end of the world and tell their stories to set the world right.

I found the beginning a little bit confusing; I had to reread parts of it a few times, but once I started meeting the story tellers it all comes together. The story's are familiar fairy tales, folk tales, and nursery rhymes but all with a twist. Sometimes the twist is as simple as telling the tale from another characters point of view; other times the tale is more drastically altered, changing the species, sex or sexual orientation of the character. All of the tales are entertaining, and it's definitely worth the read. This may be one of my new favorites.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Serious Dose of Cuteness

Zooborns is possibly the cutest website ever. They pull all new stories from other publications regarding the birth of new animals at zoos around the world and post them up on their site.

Having a crappy day? Check out the baby sea horses at Monterey Bay Aquarium. They are so tiny they don't even wrap all the way around a blade of grass. Who could be sad after looking at a cutie like that.
Also great for children, who will appreciate seeing other creatures their own age. It's updated on a regular basis, be sure to check back frequently.

Tarnished Angel by Kurt Busiek

Another great book in the Astro City series. Tarnished Angel is the story of Carl, a recent paroley that wants to go straight. He gets hired by the residents of Keifer Square to try and stop the murder of black masks, what you or I would know as super vilains.

The title refers to Carl himself who is also known as Steel Jacket and sees being a hero as being an Angel. The illustrations are spot on and just gorgeous. They complement the noir style of the story. The story itself is interesting and as usual we get to many different and interesting characters, including one of my new favorites Mock Turtle.

I just love this series and the way each book focuses on a different character and location within the city. I can't wait to read the next one.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jinx by Meg Cabot

Jinx has a problem back home in Iowa, so she is sent to NYC to live with her cousin Tory's family in NYC. This book pays serious homage to (or rips off, depends on how charitable your mood is the movie the Craft(1996). It's about girls who practice magic and don't pay enough attention to the consequences; then one goes to far.

There is romance and magic, and if you haven't watched the Craft, you might be surprised. Otherwise Jinx is just a little too good and Tory is a little bit too bad. There were a couple of things that seriously bothered me but they are spoilers so only read on if you don't care about having info on the story and ending.

*Spoiler alert* I do have a major problem with Jinx believing that she brought having stalker on herself. I understand that they are trying to send a message about consequences and being careful what you wish for, but they should have addressed the fact that no girl should ever feel like they bring being stalked upon themselves. My second major gripe is that at the end of the book Jinx basically replaces Tory, and Tory gets sent off to boarding school. This just rubbed me the wrong way and didn't feel appropriate either.

Betrayals by Lili St.Crow

In this book in the Strange Angels series Dru and Graves are at Schola, but nothing is going the way Dru thought it would. Dru is very isolated because of both her sex and because no one seems to be training her. Christian has pretty much just dumped them there and while Graves is assimilating really well, Dru is just left in the cold. Eventually when it becomes clear that there is definitely a traitor high in the ranks Dru, Graves and some new friends are forced to flee.

Dru spends the first half of the book being extremely introspective, which is fine excpet that whenever she comes close to trying to deal with the things that have happened to her, she backs off. This kind of leaves Dru stuck in a rut.

Graves on the other hand is changing quite a bit, but since this seems to involve him spending less time with Dru and the story is told from Dru's point of view, we miss out on that character development as well.

There are some interesting new characters like Dibs and Shanks, I hope we see all of them develop further. About half way through the book really picks through and I can't wait to see what develops next. I don't want to spoil anything but trust me, the end picks up; the slow beginning is worth it

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Read Your Own Books Challenge

MizB's Reading Challenges is holding a Read Your Own Books Challenge. Since reading more of my own books was part of my New Years Resolutions I have decided that I need to join in. I went through my goodreads account and I read 20 of my own books last year. This year I would like to improve so I am going to try and read AT LEAST 30 of my own books. Fortunately I started off the year by reading a couple of books I got for Christmas, including a few graphic novels.

1.Nemi by Lise Myhre
2.The Middleman: The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse by Javier Grillo-Marxuach
3.Strange Brew by P.N. Elrod
4.The Diamond Secret: A Retelling of "Anastasia" by Suzanne Weyn
5. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
6. Showcase Presents:Batgirl by John Broome
7. Monster High by Lisi Harrison
8. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
9. Grimm Sisters #1 The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley
10. Stitches by David Small

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn

This book is part of the "Once Upon a Time" series, a series that rewrites fairy tales for young adults. This story tells the story of Anastasia Romanov. My biggest complaint about this book is that it really was JUST LIKE THE MOVIE. The villain was Rasputin's assistant and there was less of a magical element, otherwise it was still the story of a girl found by two con men who wanted to pass her off as the Princess Anastasia. The personalities and stations of the two men were even the same, and although Ivan was a soldier and not a castle worker, he lies and tells Nadya that he was a castle worker.

IF the reader can past the similarities between this story and the movie (or if you have never seen the movie), then the book is actually pretty good. Dialogue is interesting and the added drama of Sergei and his missing wife and child add an interesting side plot. My only other gripe was that the foreshadowing in Nadya's dream was a bit heavy handed, I mean we already know from the blurb on the back that she is supposed to be Anastasia, they didn't have to spell it out quite so much in her dreams.

This series is written by many different writers, and I am curious to see how other's in the series are. I might try to pick up another one

Strange Angels by Lili St.Crow

Since I am starting the second Strange Angels book Betrayal today, I thought I would post my review of the first book to refresh my memory regarding the story.

Dru and her father have been traveling the country exterminating paranormal bad guys for a long time. Since she has never been in one place for long, she doesn't really know anyone or have any friends in the area or any area really. Dru's father disappears and because of the way they have lived, she doesn't really have anyone to turn to. Until Graves, a new school mate takes interest in her. He is also now alone in the world.

Dru and Graves have an adventure in which they both become more then they ever imagined and barely escape with their lives. Now they are off to a school for people like them. Dru and Graves are great characters and I think that's what really kept me interested in the book. The way they interact with each other and how they tick kept me interested.

Lone Wolf & Cub, Vol. 1: The Assassin's Road by Kazuo Koike, Goseki Kojima

Lone Wolf and Cub refer to the title character and his child, a man who was once a samurai that performs assassinations as a ronin (a lordless samurai). The beginning chapters of the manga left me a little bit disappointed. It was action sequence after action sequence that had very little story, just how the main character became involved in the current debacle and the completion of the job.

The illustrations from these stories are what really make this manga worth reading and what kept me reading even though I wasn't into the story. The illustrator uses the illustrations to create tension and mimics how movies are shot. The illustrator uses long shots and close ups in a very dramatic way. The reader should pay careful attention to these illustrations because the author relies very heavily on the drawings to move the story along, with little to no text for long sequences.

The last chapter in the book finally starts in on the personal story of the ronin and his son. This was by far the most interesting story in the book. I am hoping it will be continued in the next book, in which case I might consider reading the whole series.

Magic Under Glass

Nim is asked by Hollin Parry, a wealthy sorcerer to come live in his house and sing with an automaton. Sick of her life making next to no money as a "trouser girl" performing in a bar, she decides to go. Parry tells her that previous singers have claimed the automaton haunted, but Nimira's life has been extremely difficult and she is unwilling to give up easily. The automaton isn't haunted but it isn't quite normal either, and Hollin Parry's home is not all that it seems either.

The story was interesting and fast paced, and ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger, so there will most likely be a sequel. There are a lot of strong characters that catch the attention of the reader, however I wish there had been more background on some characters, such as Miss Rashton and what the spirits had on her and how she was able to contact Mr. Smollings so quickly. I was also unable to figure out where the title came from. I am sure I just missed it some how, but if anyone knows please let me know cause it's driving me nuts.

Friday, January 8, 2010


So it turns out that the day I start my new blog is the day that Bloggiesta starts. Since I just started this blog, I am not really sure what kind of goals I should have. I would just like to get the hang of posting reviews this weekend, so I think I might post some old book reviews from my GoodReads account just to practice. Other goals will be added as I think of them.

I happened to finish two books this weekend so I posted those and added one old review since I am reading the follow up to that book now.

Laini Taylor's Lips Touch: Three Times

This is a book of three short stories that each include at least one important kiss. While the stories are definitely lovely and well written the real treasure in this book is the illustrations. Before each story is a series of illustrations which serve as almost a prologue to the story. Each series of illustrations tells it's own story that is further explained in the writing that follows it. The illustrations are all in shades of gray and pink and they are breathtaking. The people in the illustrations are just incredibly expressive.

The stories are beautiful and heartbreaking in their own right as well. Each tale revolves around a mortal girl's experiences with love and the pain it brings, and all of the tales involve paranormal creatures, however they are each very different. In Goblin Fruit Kizzy risks everything for love and the feeling of being wanted. The women in Spicy Little Curses Such as these go to Hell and back to keep their loves. Hatchling, the longest tale features both new, young love and a love almost older then time. This is definitely well worth reading, even if you aren't a fantasy reader.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Start the New Year Off Right

with some new wall paper. Smashing Magazine is a British publication that focuses on web design and developing with a serious focus on creativity. They also have a great blog.

As a way to inspire creativity in the new year Smashing Magazine will be providing several different wall papers each month. Each wall paper includes a calendar for the month. Artists are invited to submit their own designs for future wall papers. For January there are 35 different wall papers that will appeal to people with all different artistic temperaments you can access by clicking here. The wall papers are easy to download, just pick the size you want, then right click and select set as background.

Smashing Magazine also invites users to submit their own wall papers for future months. You don't need anything but your own creativity. Check out submission guidelines here.