Review: Every House is Haunted by Ian Rogers

Every House Is Haunted by Ian Rogers How did I get it: Netgalley.

Why did I read it: I have to admit that this was initially a case of cover instant-love, but I also loved the concept behind it.

Summary: 

Ian Rogers explores the border-places between our world and the dark reaches of the supernatural. The landscape of death becomes the new frontier for scientific exploration. A honeymoon cabin with an unspeakable appetite finally meets its match. A suburban home is transformed into the hunting ground for a new breed of spider. A nightmarish jazz club at the crossroads of reality plays host to those who can break a deal with the devil for a price. With remarkable deftness, Rogers draws together the disturbing and the diverting in twenty-two showcase stories that will guide you through terrain at once familiar and startlingly fresh.

Review:  A reader’s expectations always have a way of coloring the actual experience of reading. I was really excited when I read the introduction, which presented the book as a collection of stories about haunted houses and/or haunted people. Because of that, and because the layout of the collection moves the reader further and further into a fictional house, I really was expecting the idea of haunting or being haunted to really stand out.

Many of the stories delivered on the premise, of course. Rogers has an enjoyable Lovecraftian/Night Gallery approach to some of his stories and a great dark sense of humor. However, I definitely felt that some of the stories seemed somewhat out of place or ill-fitting. Once I got to the author’s acknowledgements page at the end of the book, I discovered that Every House is Haunted was primarily a collection of the author’s previously published works. I really, really wish I’d known that upfront because, as dumb as this might sound, I do think it would have made a difference.

In conclusion, a good collection even if the packaging was misleading. I wouldn’t recommend reading it straight through, which is what I did. Instead, I think I would suggest just browsing and seeing what titles appeal to you. My personal favorites were “Cabin D,” “The Cat,” “The Currents,” and “Autumnology.”

How I would rate it: 3 out of 5 stars for the collection as a whole. My rating for each story would vary significantly.

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Review: iFrankenstein by Bekka Black

iFrankenstein by Bekka Black

How did I get it: The author was kind enough to send me a review copy.

Why did I read it: I greatly enjoyed iDrakula and I was curious to read a modern re-telling of Frankenstein.

Summary: 

Homeschooled teenager Victor Frankenstein is determined to write his own ticket to independence: a chatbot to win the prestigious Turing prize and admission to the high tech university of his choice.

He codes his creation with a self-extending version of his own online personality and unleashes it upon the internet. But soon he begins to suspect his virtual clone may have developed its own goals, and they are not aligned with Victor’s. The creature has its own plan, fed by a growing desire to win darker and more precious prizes: unfettered power and release from loneliness.

As the creature’s power and sentience grows and its increasingly terrible deeds bleed over from the online world into the real one, Victor must stop his creation before his friends and humanity pay the ultimate price.

Review:  A great deal of what I put in my review for iDrakula still applies and that has made this review somewhat difficult to write as I really don’t like to repeat myself or come up with new ways to say virtually (no pun intended) the same thing. But the fact remains that both books, while different, had similar strengths.

As with iDrakula, I felt the liberties and changes that made Shelley’s classic novel into a modern sequence of events worked in wonderful ways. The ideas of a cruise and a chatbot contest were amusing and clever both for those familar with the original work and those who aren’t. In the case of iFrankenstein, having Victor, Henry, and Elizabeth as teenagers made more sense and made the read more fun. Victor as a teenage shut-in with a really lousy father and Elizabeth as a girl desperately trying to get his attention was entertaining. I also liked that Elizabeth often relied on paintings to convey her emotional state. Poor Henry’s plight was less so, but I liked the way he was able to be such a good friend and to eventually get some indirect help from Victor’s creation.

Unlike iDrakula, I’m not sure using tweets, texts, and e-mails to convey an entire story and series of events worked as well for me in iFrankenstein. This time around, I did found myself really wanting to know what was going on since many of the actions and conflicts took place away from screens including the monster’s creation and the final showdown with him. I realize that the format wasn’t and couldn’t really lend itself to scenes outside of a more virtual space, especially since that’s where the monster lived. And yet I sort of wish there had been a way to add in other sorts of elements –even some dialogue provided via a security camera feed– that could have added more emotion or insight into Victor’s monster as well as his relationship with his father.

Some of this might not be the re-telling’s fault though because, to be honest, I cannot remember much of what actually happened in Frankenstein whereas I remember nearly every aspect of Dracula. So it’s possible that both the original and this re-telling just lack a little bit when it comes to either monster or father as characters.

In conclusion, a good, fun, and quick read. I prefer iDrakula to iFrankenstein in much the same way as I prefer Dracula to Frankenstein, but reading either book would be a great way to get into the Halloween spirit. I also can’t wait to see what classic Bekka Black will tackle next.

How I would rate it: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Posted in E-book, Review, Review Copy, Teen Book | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

General Update

Lately I’ve been having one heck of a time finishing books and reviewing them.

There are two reasons for this.

The first is I tend to prefer finishing books I’m genuinely excited about. If I stick with a book, my hope is that I will gush about it in the end. That doesn’t always pan out, but that is the initial intent.

The second is I derive no pleasure whatsoever in finding problems with books and writing bad reviews of them. Unless a book was so painfully ridiculous that it was actually entertaining, it’s frankly very difficult to write  I really see no point in taking a milque-toast middle of the road read to task. Or trying to write a review that will wind up being basically a long-winded way of saying “This is a book I read with my eyes. Other people with eyes might enjoy it. My eyes did not.”

As a result? I’ve really been struggling with what to do with this book blog because I want to keep doing it and I want to keep enjoying it but the truth is I rarely enjoy the sort of books everyone enjoys and I have no interest in pretending to. At the end of the day, I don’t want to jump ship. I want to keep working to make this work.

So I hope you’ll bear with me despite the slow speed at which I’ve been updating. If my reading morale doesn’t improve, I think I will make posts about books on a particular theme, bookish memories, book recommendations for young readers, and possibly PS3 game reviews since I finally got a new gaming system.

Posted in Bookish Announcement, Librarian's Lament | 6 Comments

Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) by Libba Bray

How did I get it: The library. I ordered a copy for my YA collection.

Why did I read it: I saw the book trailer while I was attending School Library Journal’s SummerTeen Conference. I liked the spooky vibe, and I couldn’t resist a book about supernatural crimes in 1920s New York.

Summary: 

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces!

Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult–also known as “The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies.”

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer–if he doesn’t catch her first.

Review:  In most respects, I am glad I did and –although the book is on the long side for a Young Adult novel– I finished it in no time. The setting seemed very believable to me and the chapters from the point of view of Naughty John’s victims were tragic and creepy. Similarly, I liked the gruesome nature of the evil demonic killer that the characters faced against. I also loved the way real bits of history were used to provide proof for more fascinatingly ficticious concepts. I was very pleased by the range of character types, personalities, and motivations. And I think the focus on friendships, relationships, and abilities rather than strong romantic themes was a really excellent choice.

That said, I was not a fan of the main character Evie O’Neill or the overwhelming use of 1920s slang. Neither aspect soured my reading experience too terribly, but I would say they’re both something to be aware of. Continue reading

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Highlights from the Book Horde #59

Highlights from the Book Horde is a weekly post where I list the awesome books I’ve recently purchased, borrowed, received in the mail, or checked out of the library.

In the Mail:
Always October by Bruce Coville Gravediggers: Mountain of Bones by Christopher Krovatin Invisible Inkling: Dangerous Pumpkins by Emily Jenkins Scary School: Monsters on the March by Derek the Ghost The Whispering House by Rebecca Wade
Review Copies of Middle Grade titles geared towards Halloween from Harper Collins: Always October by Bruce Coville, Gravediggers: Mountain of Bones by Christopher Krovatin, Invisible Inkling: Dangerous Pumpkins by Emily Jenkins, and Scary School: Monsters on the March by Derek the Ghost, and The Whispering House by Rebecca Wade.

Birthday Presents:
Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger
Gnomes by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet
The Leviathan Trilogy (Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath) by Scott Westerfeld
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Bought:
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

From the Library:
The Diviners by Libba Bray

Posted in Book Horde, Shiny New Books, To Read | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Review: Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
How did I get it: The library. I ordered a copy for my YA collection.

Why did I read it: I first heard about this book through The Book Smugglers. While their review made me a little wary, I wanted to read something Teen Ficthat was more about Horror and less about Romance.

Summary: 

When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don’t know is that their aunt’s life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries — before it’s too late for little Mimi.

Review:  While I loved the sense of history and the eerie qualities/backstory given to the titular character… I was really disappointed by my inability to connect deeply to any of the characters, the “Same Monster, Different Day” feel to the story as a whole, and the bizarrely frequent point of view shifts in Long Lankin. Continue reading

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Highlights from the Book Horde #58

Highlights from the Book Horde is a weekly(-ish) post where I list the awesome books I’ve recently purchased, borrowed, received in the mail, or checked out of the library.

In the Mail:
Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein
A Review Copy of Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein (October 2) from Penguin/Roc.

From the Library:
Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
False Memory by Dan Krokos
Kill Switch by Chris Lynch
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Redshirts by John Scalzi
Secret Letters by Leah Scheier
This Hotel is Haunted! by Geronimo Stilton
Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
Zoo by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge

Posted in Book Horde, Shiny New Books, To Read | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments