Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review: Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher

Title: Knightley Academy
Author: Violet Haberdasher
Genre: Juvi, Younger YA readers, fantasy, steampunk, adventure, friendship
Perfect for: those who enjoy the 'Harry Potter' or 'Vampirates' series

Henry Grim is an orphan who for most of his thirteen years has worked as a servant at the local boarding school.  When a loop hole in the system allows Henry and other commoners to take the exam to gain acceptance into the posh and highly exclusive Knightley Academy, Henry does everything he can to pass the test and, to his great surprise, is chosen above all other test takers to attend!

School life isn't all that is cracked up to be, even in a school where 'chivalry' is the basic code, as he and his roommates, fellow outcasts Adam and Rohan, learn that someone is sabotaging their chances of staying at Knightley Academy.  With the help of the headmasters daughter Frankie, Henry, Adam, and Rohan must find out who wants them out before they really are expelled.

The first thing that grabbed me about 'Knightley Academy' was the title.  It's just a great title.  Along with that, the cover is nicely put together and should attract attention.  It caught mine pretty much instantly.  While the page count looks a bit hefty, don't worry.  The text is large and the story moves along in such a way you won't notice anything but the story.

Author Violet Haberdasher has put together a story that should attract anyone who enjoyed Harry Potter.  The style is similar in the fact that this is a fun read about friendship and confidence and is filled with so many possibilities for future storylines.  By no means is this book a stand alone novel.  There will be sequels-- sequels that I am very much looking forward to reading.

The characters are fantastic.  We have Henry, the main character, who is confident and bright, but  has drawn the short end of the straw when it comes to lineage.  A common boy, he is the character that keeps us, the readers, from being confused about this new world.  His voice is easy to read and he's just an overall great character.

Along with Henry, we have Rohan, Adam, and Frankie.  Rohan comes from a proper family, but as he is biologically the son of a dark skinned servant, he is shunned due to his color.  Rohan is the logical one of the group.  Adam, son of a banker, is Jewish and brings a fantastic sense of humor to the tale.  Frankie, daughter of the headmaster, wants to learn many things-- far more than the stitchery and languages her grandmother deems appropriate for girls.

These four heroes make for fantastic friends and a fantastic story that has some steampunk influences and lots of adventure.  While the main storyline in this novel has an ending, it is definitely apparent that this is the beginning of a great series.

If you are or know a Harry Potter or Vampirates fan looking for something new, this is it.  It's fun, adventurous, quirky, and humorous.  Highly recommended!  'Knightly Academy' is available now from your local bookstore and online!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Review: Twilight: The Graphic Novel by Young Kim

Title: Twilight: The Graphic Novel
Author/Illustrator: Young Kim, Stephenie Meyer
Genre: Graphic Novel, Romance, YA, Supernatural
Perfect for: Shoujo and Twilight  fans!

I'll be honest, I used to be a Twihard.  I read all the books within a week of their release, went to a few midnight releases, and even have a hardcover (signed) and a paperback (travel copy) of the original printings of "Twilight".  I thought I had overcome this Twihard thing, until I found myself face to face with the fantastic cover of "Twilight: The Graphic Novel".  As well as being a recovered Twihard, I also choose books by covers and this cover drew me in instantly.

Let me start with the story.  If you've read "Twilight", there are no surprises here.  The story follows Bella as she starts life in her fathers home town of Forks.  There she meets Edward Cullen and and her life changes in ways she never imagined.  The graphic novel is adapted quite nicely.  Those who found "Twilight" slow or to 'inside Bella's head' should like its fast paced narrative.  Most of the essential bits from Bella arriving in Forks to seeing him 'sparkle' in the meadow are translated effortlessly to the graphic novel format.  Key lines are kept intact, while, for good reason, others are paraphrased.  The novel stops with the meadow, so don't expect this to be a complete adaptation of "Twilight".  Expect each book to be broken up into at least two graphic novels, if not three.

The greatest thing about the graphic novel is not the fine adaptation, but the fantastic artwork by artist Young Kim.  The Bella and Edward he created are more like 'my' Edward and Bella than the movie ever  will.  The glossy black and white illustrations with occasional color thrown in are pleasing to the eye.  The drawing style is a good mix of traditional disney-esc and manga.  Kim's drawings really help readers see Bella's and Edwards emotions, as opposed to telling us with text.  The illustrations really were the main thing that drew me to picking this title up.  I'm sure you'll love them!

The only problem I have with this book is the binding and price.  Twenty-One dollars is mighty high for a comic book, especially one that is only volume one of many.  While I usually love hardcovers, it seems a bit much to bind comics in the hardcover  format in volume form.  Why not wait till all the volumes of "Twilight: The Graphic Novel" are out and in print?  It's rare for me to even want to pay ten dollars for a paperback manga these days, let alone twenty for a hardcover that isn't a compilation.  I would have preferred this to be in a more affordable format (ie paperback) than in the (however nice) hardcover/glossy one Yen Press decided to go for.

Overall, though, regardless of what I think of the price, I am happy with this adaptation.  I'd even say I prefer this to the movie versions that are so popular at the moment.  Enjoy this read!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Books Arrived!

I'm super excited about two of the arcs I have waiting to be read because they happen to be from two of my favorite authors!

Well, most recently, I received DJ Machale's 'Morpheus Road- The Light'.  I've missed my DJ Machale books.  Since 2002, the year I picked up the first Pendragon book, I've had a book to look forward to every year.  When the final book came out of Pendragon, well, I was a bit sad!  My fingers are crossed that this highly anticipated new series will be just as great as Pendragon!

The second book I have waiting is 'The Thin Executioner'.  It's written by Darren Shan, author of 'Ciruqe Du Freak'.  I'm hoping to enjoy this book, as Demonata never really did anything for me.  Speaking of Cirque Du Freak, I watched the movie...  I'll write a bit more about it later, but here's my short opinion of it-- adapting three books into two hours is a tough job.   The movie didn't turn out that bad-- just expect a new adventure and not the adventures we found in the books.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sick-- be back soon!

I'm under the weather and will be back next week to post some reviews!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Forever Favorites: Aliens Ate My Homework by Bruce Coville

We all have our favorite books, books we can't imagine not reading over and over again.  Here's another one of my 'Forever Favorites’...

Title: Aliens Ate My Homework
Author: Bruce Coville
Genre: Juvi, sci-fi, humor
Perfect for: kids looking for humorous books with a sci-fi theme

From all accounts, Rod Allbright is your normal, slightly pudgy, 100% truthful kid.  Living with his mom and two twin siblings lovingly called 'Thing 1' and 'Thing 2', life is pretty much as expected.  That is, until the good ship Ferkel crash lands in his science project while hunting intergalactic bad guy, BKR.  The aliens enlist Rod to help in their search and soon finds out that the universe is a small place, a place wehre your bully could in fact be an alien of intergalactic proportions.

I love 'Aliens Ate My Homework'.  It's a funny romp perfect for any reader looking for light middle school space fun. The characters are fantastic.  Rod is instantly likable and has a fun voice to read.  The aliens, especially Grakker and Madame Pong, are quirky, unique, and very well thought out.  Talking in terms of all the characters, none come off as flat or boring.  For those worried about 'scary' characters, the villain BKR doesn't cross the line from mean to scary..

Coville is a master storyteller when it comes to middle school fiction.  'Aliens Ate My Homework' is one of his best.  The school, sci-fi, and coming of age elements spread throughout 'Aliens Ate My Homework' are executed very well and will entertain a wide variety of readers.

Also adding to its excellence are the illustrations throughout the book.  Illustrated by Coville's wife Katherine, the images help define the characters in way text alone could not.

The best part of 'Aliens Ate My Homework' is that it's a series! Under the series heading 'Rod Allbright and the Galactic Patrol', three other books follow, 'I Left My Sneakers in Dimension X', 'Search for Snout', and 'Aliens Stole My Body'.

'Aliens Ate My Homework' comes highly recommended.  Take a peek at this classic middle school sci-fi title today!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Review: Stargazer by Claudia Gray

Title: Stargazer
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: YA, Supernatural, Romance
Perfect for: a rainy Saturday read

It's the start of a new school year at Evernight Academy, a school to help vampires become acclimated to the current trends.  Born to two vampires, Bianca isn't a full vampire-- that doesn't come until she makes her first kill--, but is slowly feeling less human and more vampire. While dealing with her growing blood thirst, Biana also another problem.  Though her parents don't know it, she is still love with Lucas, a black cross vampire hunter who infiltrated the school the year before and grew to love her, too, knowing full well she was part vampire.  With Lucas' cover blown, Biana is forced to meet him in secret between his hunts with Black Cross and her weekends off campus (with the help of Balthazar, a hot, evernight-type vampire).  When ghosts start attacking students, especially Bianca, she soon discovers that there is more to her than her parents ever let on. 

If you remember my review of "Evernight", it was a little harsh.  "Stargazer" was much better than it's predecessor.  Focusing less on the school activities and more on character development was a great choice by the author.  Getting to know more about Balthazar and seeing he and Bianca's relationship made for a quick, fun, page turner of a book.  And the new revelations in this book about Bianca?  Fantastic.  I'm looking forward to seeing what will happen to her now that she knows what she really is. Claudia Gray also did a great job with the flashbacks.  I was a bit worried about remembering the first book, as I found it lackluster, but my worries were uncalled for.  Gray put in flashbacks when needed, but never obsessively. 

Overall, "Stargazer" was a good sequel to "Evernight" and a good addition to the series.  It seems Gray has finally hit her stide with this series and I look forward to "Hourglass", the next book in the series.  Just like before, this book is perfect for a quick weekend read.