Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I'm giving Fahrenheit 451 away for World Book Night this year, and since it has been many, many years since I first read it, I thought it was time for a reread. I would imagine most people are familiar with the story because it is required reading in so many schools, but just in case you aren't -- it is set in the future, in a world where books are outlawed and firemen burn down the houses where they are discovered. People are obsessed with their "parlor wall" TVs and go to sleep with "seashells" burrowed in their ears -- sound at all familiar? It definitely rang a little too true for comfort for me the first time I read it.
Fahrenheit 451 isn't really an enjoyable book to read, but it has an important message. And of course, book lovers will all agree that it is important to keep books, to keep the ideas alive, to not succumb to the mindlessness of meaningless pleasure-seeking.
Warnings: Some language
Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier
Okay, so I've loved all the Sevenwaters books so far, but Child of the Prophecy might be my very favorite one. (Although it is hard to beat Daughter of the Forest, if only because it was first and it was so near perfection). Juliet Marillier's writing is so beautiful and satisfying, and I love the world she has created/channeled (because it is ancient Ireland, with some magic thrown in). Reading her books feels like I am literally transported into the story -- I know that is a cliche way to describe a reading experience, but it became a cliche because it described the feeling so well.
Of course, all of these things refer generally to the trilogy. What specifically made me love this book so much was the fact that every character has two faces. Everyone is so complex, and the characters are forced to make difficult, difficult decisions. The protagonist, Fainne, makes some very serious, awful mistakes. Characters that are pretty universally seen as "the good guys" have some dark actions in their pasts. And even one of the slimiest characters in the novel does something so honorable and tragic that I felt guilty for thinking he was a sleazy guy. So basically, go read it. But read the first two books first.
Warnings: Rapey scene, violence
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
If you thought the last review was gushy, you should probably go ahead and just skip this one. Except don't, because I want to convince everyone in the world to read this book.
My first experience with Maggie Stiefvater was The Scorpio Races. And I loved it, despite the extremely bizarre subject matter. (Sean Kendrick may or may not have had more than a little something to do with that). After reading The Raven Boys, it is now official -- I will read anything that woman writes.
I finished The Raven Boys in a 24-hour period, mainly while rocking my son to sleep. And during that 24 hour period, I almost wanted him to wake up and fuss so I had an excuse to go back in and rock him some more. Honestly, The Raven Boys was a perfect book for me. The atmosphere was exquisitely created, this perfect mix of haunting, chilling eeriness and beauty. The characters were all so poignant and alive, despite the fact that the book really isn't that long. The leaped from the page (another cliche that I am using unabashedly, because after all, this is supposed to be a mini-review, so it's not like I'm trying to write epic literature here). And the plot was so unique and so awesome that I was dying to find out what happens next. Bring me The Dream Thieves, please.
Warnings: Language, violence
The Girl With the Iron Touch by Kady Cross
I can't get enough of the Steampunk Chronicles. They are honestly just some of the most fun books that I have ever read. There are bizarre gadgets and menacing, creepy otherworld influences and dashing heroes and spunky, fierce heroines and it is just full of awesome. Is it brilliant literature? No. Is the dialogue sometimes cheesy? Oh yes. But I dare you to not enjoy The Girl With the Iron Touch.
Warnings: Violence, rated PG fantasizing
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
I read this because there was a huge billboard of the movie right by where I live (gotta love LA) and because it was cheap on Amazon (so, so many book purchases happen because of this. They know what they are doing, those monopolizers). Anyway, I had no idea what this was about, so I'll summarize it for you in a brief fashion: Boy meets girl. Girl belongs to a family of witches. Witches are cursed and are "Claimed" for good or evil on their sixteenth birthday. Girl is sure she is going to be evil, but boy really likes her, so they decide to figure out how to change her fate.
I liked this -- I pretty much devoured it (and it is pretty beastly long). I have the sequel waiting at the top of my stack of library books. It has a unique setting, awesome atmosphere, and fun characters. At times it dragged, and Lena's constant freaking out grew old (which sounds harsh... I'd be freaking out too. But sometimes I got tired of reading about it). But for the most part, I really liked it, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.
Warnings: Language maybe? A little violence. It's pretty clean overall.