Friday, October 29, 2010

Ape House by Sara Gruen

Well I know what everyone is wondering... because every time someone saw me reading Ape House they asked the same thing.  "Is it as good as Water for Elephants?"  I hate to answer this in fear that it will discourage you from reading it.  No, it was not as good as Water for Elephants.  I am sorry, really I am; but can anything be as good as Water for Elephants? That was a book that comes around every so often and will be a book that lasts forever.  With that said, please read Ape House, it really is good.  Except the love for animals, it is so very different from Water for Elephants, but worth it.

Ape House is a fast read. Gruen's novel's always seem to be an afternoon read, but the character's are so well developed that the reader is immediately captivated and tied to their emotions, thoughts, decisions, and actions.  In Ape House, Isabel is a scientist who works for a language lab that works with apes. The lab is bombed and the apes are acquired by a film director who puts them on a reality television and internet show. Humans are either offended or transfixed by the animal cruelty or ape sexuality.  Isabel and her close friends work to have the apes released and returned to safety.  Throughout the story many interesting characters are introduced and of course the villain turns out to be worse than imagined; however, the "who it might be" could have been hidden a little better.  I guessed correctly at the very beginning of the story. The romance was weak and never really developed into anything big; however, it was still very good and I suggest you read it.  Please don't be hoping for a Water for Elephants experience, you will not receive it!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Impulse and Initiative by Abigail Reynolds

This is a Pride and Prejudice variation with an interesting twist. The idea behind this one is "What if Mr. Dary had set out to win Elizabeth's heart?" 

 So after Mr. Darcy is rejected by Elizabeth, he sets out to win her over.  He goes back to Netherfield with Bingley and the two seek out the Bennett sisters with a plan.  At first Elizabeth is guarded, but eventually she finds herself falling deeply in love with Mr. Darcy.  After being seen kissing by servants, the two are quickly engaged to stop improper gossip, but this frustrates Elizabeth greatly.  Later when she visits Pemberly with her Aunt and Uncle she becomes even more involved physically with Darcy, and the two are required to marry quickly.  Mr. Darcy still saves Lydia and the family from her inappropriate romp with Mr. Wickham, and Jane and Bingley have their happily ever after as well. The story ends with Elizabeth and Darcy being ever so close and open with each other, and are blessed with an heir to Pemberly.

 I enjoyed greatly the relationship that formed between Elizabeth and Georgiana, and also Elizabeth and the servants.  The description on the back called it "A lustful and very romantic story", which did not disappoint or misrepresent the novel.  What was missing was Lady Catherine!  I wish she had come in and gave Elizabeth her strong discouragement to distress her, and then Mr. Darcy could come in a sweep her off her feet and make everything okay. I kept waiting and it never happened. Other than that it was great. I love a good P&P adaptation every so often. Berdoll is still the best I have found... but this was decent, I definitely did not want it to end!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

City of Glass is the third installment in The Mortal Instruments series. Originally suppose to be the last; however, Clare plans to continue the series with a focus on Simon the powerful but cursed, daylighting Vampire. More on that after my thoughts.

This novel was more action packed than the previous two, with a clear main enemy and ultimate challenge with a new backdrop other than NYC. Clary and the shadowhunter gang find themselves in Idris, the City of Glass and homeland for shadowhunters, soon to be attacked by Valentine who escaped in the previous City of Ashes. Clary is attempting to find a cure to save her mother and is helped by a new friend Sebastian whose attraction to Clary seems strangely wrong. Clary must find a way to use her strong powers to bring shadowhunters and downworlders together to fight off Valentine planing to destroy them all; otherwise, they will never stand a chance.  Jace and Clary are still tormented by their relationship and it takes a good 500 pages to get the kiss the readers actually want.  With an interesting twist on a spy in the group and a slew of new characters City of Glass is involved and develops quickly. Simon, once locked in jail for being a vampire who can withstand daylight, becomes a main character with a pivotal role to play inorder to save them all.  I don't think these are the best written literary works of YA finction; however, they are fairly entertaining, quick reads with interesting twists and a great fantasy world. They are quite addicting, but you never get the romance that the story is building up to. In their defense though, they are YA fiction, so they are written appropriately, which should be commended actually, even though it can be frustrating.

The next book in the series City of Fallen Angels it is going to focus on Simon's development as a character. City of Fallen Angels is set for release in March 2011. This is the released synopsis:
Love, blood, betrayal and revenge — the stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels. Simon Lewis is having some trouble adjusting to his new life as a vampire, especially now that he hardly sees his best friend Clary, who is caught up in training to be a Shadowhunter—and spending time with her new boyfriend Jace. Not to mention that Simon doesn't quite know how to handle the pressure of not-quite-dating two girls at once. What's a daylight-loving vampire to do? Simon decides he needs a break and heads out of the city—only to discover that sinister events are following him. Realizing that the war they thought they'd won might not yet be over, Simon has to call on his Shadowhunter friends to save the day — if they can put their own splintering relationships on hold long enough to rise to the challenge
Other NewsCity of Bones is suppose to being made into a movie. Hopefully the plans are to make movies of the series, as it sounds like it will be a franchise.  You can read updates about this on Cassandra Clare's Website and Blog here...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes is book two of The Mortal Instruments Series. The series is going strong and getting better. :) Clary, Jace, and Simon are still twisted together in a love triangle, despite Jace seeming to be her possible brother.  It gets more interesting as Alec becomes involved with a Warlock, Magnus Bane who seems to come through constantly to save the teens with amazing powers.  Simon turns into a vampire and feels drawn to another Downworlder Maia, interestingly a werewolf who likes Simon, despite his unrequited love for Clary.  The mash-up gang of Shadowhunters and Downworlders find themselves in a battle against Jace and Clary's "father" who has stolen two of the Mortal Instruments and plans to raise an army of demons to defeat the Clave and wield enormous powers.  Jace appears to be the criminal as he converses with his father behind the backs of his family and friends, but his choice to defy his father, creates an interesting end as he finds himself with new powers of his own. Unfortunatly it seems as though each person who know Jace's history ends up dieing or disappearing before they can spit it out. In the end the fantasy friends have the ultimate battle aboard Valentine's ship in the East River, which Clary destroys with her knew found rune drawing super power.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones is the first book in a three part series called The Mortal Instruments.  In a previous post, I read Clokckwork Angel also by Clare that is the first book in a pre-quel series to this one.  City of Bones was excellent for what it is, a young-adult fiction fantasy series. It is heavily addicting, and I breezed through the 500 or so pages in two days. The fantasy world Clare creates is strong with so many details, it sucks you in and you just want to stay there for hours.

Clary an ordinary New York girl, finds out that her life has all been a lie. Her mother and evil father had been shadowhunters, demon killers. Her mother ran away from her husband and erased Clary's mind in order to protect her from the fantasy world.  After her mother is kidnapped, Clary has to put the pieces back together and separate out the truth from the lies. She is not alone in her quest however; Simon, her best human friend who is secretly in love with her, and her new shadowhunter friend Jace, who saves Clary's life on more than one occasion, are there to help her.  The two battle for Clary's love, as the shadowhunters search for a mortal cup that her mother hid for only Clary to find.  Unfortunately the mortal cup falls into the wrong hands and Jace and Clary are left with a strange twist of fate that puts their growing relationship at a standstill.

Something to look forward to...

The Mortal Instruments Series
1.City of Bones
2.City of Ashes
3.City of Glass
4.City of Fallen Angels (out April 11, 2011)
5.City of Lost Souls (out May, 2012)
6.City of Heavenly Fire (out September, 2013)
The Infernal Devices Series
1.Clockwork Angel
2.Clockwork Prince (out September, 2011)
3.Clockwork Princess (out December, 2012)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

This American classic by Jack Kerouac was a quick read despite how long it has taken me to post.  Unfortunately teaching is seriously getting in the way of my reading time. :)  In On the Road, Jack tells of his beatnik adventures over the course seven years, traveling back and forth across America and even Mexico.  The main characters Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity, are based on Kerouac and Neal Cassady, another Beat writer who traveled the country together.

Although Kerouac was on the road for seven years, it took him only three weeks to write the novel. He wrote a continues draft on a type writer taping paper together to make one continuous roll.  Truman Capote mocked the writer, "That isn't writing; it's typing."  Kerouac was looking to create a new style of writing and indeed it is something very different. As he sought out to accomplish, he writes in a continual train of thought that never stops.  It is almost as Kerouac is in the room with you just telling a long story on a Sunday afternoon; it lasts some 300 pages, but it never really feels like there is a place to stop. It took years for Kerouac to be taken as a serious writer and accepted as creating this unique pose style of writing, but now On the Road is considered to be a great American Classic.

The story is very entertaining as Dean and Sal travel back and forth across the US meeting up, separating and starting over again.  Dean is a flat out crazy character who is always on the ultimate search for his father, also Dean Moriarty.  I loved being able to relate to some of the places they visited. For some reason this is what connected me to the characters the most. Fredericksburg, VA! (I live here), taking 301 to Washington, the Bear Mountain Bridge in NY, West 90s in NYC (I worked there a summer), Notre Dame South Bend Indiana (spent many summers twirling there), Long Island, Hudson Valley NY, Poughkeepsie NY (married there), Blue Ridge Mountains, Stonewall Jackson's Grave, and Denver, Colorado.  Just as interesting were the places I had never been; however, Kerouac's writing made you feel like you were there, as if you were "On the Road" with them.

The women throughout the novel, you became more and more sympathetic for. As you fall in love with the antics of the traveling men, you realized the hardships of the woman left behind in cities, who counted on Dean.  There is this growing love-hate reaction to Dean who drops everything, or really nothing, going on the road again. I have the urge to scream at Camille and Inez. Dean is a good for nothing looser who makes babies and doesn't take care of them. Why do they keep trying to keep him?  I think its a combination of the time period and that Dean is so charismatic and exuberant the woman just want him.

The road trip to Mexico City to achieve Dean's divorce from Camille is wildly entertaining and such a reward for reaching the end of the book.  Kerouac paints a picture of Mexico that could easily be translated to any old western film. The heat, the bugs, the booze, and the girls all make for the most entertaining of tales.

On the Road is currently filming for the big screen. As you know how I love to see movies of the books I have read, I can't wait.  So glad I finally got around to reading such an American classic of the Beat Generation.