Thursday, February 12, 2015

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

★★★★✩
Tsukuru Tazaki once had a group of friends that enriched his dull ordinary life. Without any explanation they told him they never wanted to see him again. A painful loss that has haunted and impacted the way he's lived his life. Tsukuru has become a man with a simple lifestyle and very few friends. The future he wants to create depends on facing his past and learning what truly transpired.      

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years Of Pilgrimage is a melancholy story that explores loneliness, friendship, and identity.

I really liked the story's retrospective take on the coming-of-age tale. The story highlights Tsukuru's sense of self during high school and college interwoven with his current mindset as an adult. It was interesting to see how Tsukuru navigated each of the transitional phases and how they shaped the person he became.

The mystery surrounding Tsukuru's past unfolds gradually with each new piece of information expanding upon it. It was interesting to see how his friends were affected and learn what happened to them through the years. The ending is open but I thought it gave a sense of closure to the overall story and the mystery it focused on.  

I loved the cadence of the prose and its ability to capture existential ideas and reiterate them through colorful concise metaphors. I thought it was interesting how the story used slight touches of supernatural surrealism to underscore introspective moments. I especially liked the story's incorporation of music and how it enhanced the themes of the story. 

Overall, I enjoyed reading the story and look forward to reading other books by the author.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Revenge Of The Witch by Joseph Delaney

★★★★✩
Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son, gifted with an awareness of the supernatural. Arrangements have been made for him to become the next apprentice to the Spook. He'll learn how to combat and trap frightful creatures in order to protect the countryside. When he unknowingly releases a powerful witch from her imprisonment, he must rely on his limited knowledge to defeat her. This is the first book in The Last Apprentice series.

Revenge Of The Witch is a middle grade, young adult story. It's an engaging blend of fantasy and horror. It manages to create an eerie undertone that enhances the suspense.

I enjoyed reading this story and was surprised by how creepy it was at times. The settings were wonderfully portrayed and atmospheric. I especially enjoyed the large amount of paranormal and supernatural elements packed into the story. It has everything from hauntings, possession, ghasts, boggarts, witches, and gruesome magic. All while remaining appropriate for the intended audience.
 
I loved the ink illustrations by Patrick Arrasmith included throughout the book. Each illustration enhanced the tone and mood of each chapter beginning. I also liked the map and journal entries included at the end of the book. I especially liked how they mirrored information given within the story and felt like they came from the main character.  

I really liked how Thomas' character demonstrates the concept of bravery by facing his fears. Each new frightful encounter further develops his character and I couldn't help rooting for him. I also liked that the story touched on different ideas such as loneliness, tolerance, independence, and compassion through his character.

The story is a quick read with interesting characters and exciting adventures. I did lose a bit of interest towards the end because I didn't care much for the extended storyline with Alice but I'm curious about what role she will play in the future. The story sets the foundation for the series and I definitely plan to continue reading The Last Apprentice series.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

★★★★✩
Victor and Eli were best friends during college. They were rivals in everything and shared a common ambition to put their research into practice. Systematically playing with death they were able to become ExtraOrdinary, gaining amazing abilities once only attributed to superheroes. Ten years have passed since then. Victor has just broken out of prison and is determined to get revenge against Eli for putting him there. Meanwhile Eli has been enacting his zealous mission of ridding the world of other EOs by personally hunting them down.     

Vicious is a compelling tale that explores the darkness of jealousy, revenge, death, and morality. There is no clear hero or villain and both main characters are wonderfully flawed. 

I loved the story's prose and found it thoroughly engaging. It was vividly descriptive with concise word usage often found in short stories which enabled it to invoke the sense of a graphic novel.

The story is set in the near future on a parallel world where super powers are conceivable. It's told through short alternating chapters that weave the past and present together from different perspectives. I appreciated that each chapter was clearly labeled and I liked the graphic design details included in the book's formatting. It made the overall story easier to follow and heightened the suspense in the second part by emphasizing the countdown.

I liked how the characters were portrayed. I enjoyed reading how they navigated through the dark themes within their different story lines. I really liked the concept behind how they became ExtraOrdinary and the different ways their powers manifested.

Vicious is an engaging story with dark undertones, vivid prose and dramatic characters.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Double Blind by Tiffany Pitts

★★★★✩
Delilah Pelham's brother has gone missing in Hong Kong while negotiating a classified business deal. She isn't too concerned because his charming persona and shady schemes often get him into trouble. The only one worried and insistent they find him is Carl, who has a personal stake in the business and has discovered obscure messages that suggest her brother knew he was in danger before disappearing. Together they retrace his steps through Hong Kong and try to solve the clues left for them while dodging the people intent on stopping them. This is the first book in the Thanatos Rising series.

Double Blind is an amusing story that blends action and mystery with a bit of romance and science fiction. The story has an engaging narrative that remains witty and upbeat throughout the course of the book. 

I liked that the story included advanced technology with interesting consequences. The enthusiasm for the science behind the technology made it a fun addition to the story without overwhelming it.

The story has two interconnected storylines that take place in different locations. Seattle and Hong Kong were wonderful backdrops to the story. The detail and focus given to the layout of each location gave a better sense of place and movement through the story. I also liked that each setting was reinforced through the chapter titles.  

The characters were memorable and endearing with clever dialogue. I liked all the small characterization details that made them more dynamic. It was also fun to see the different relationships between the characters play out.

Delilah was an interesting contrast to Carl's character. I really liked how the action scenes incorporated their different capabilities and knowledge. The fight scenes were lively and well written. 

The promise of a cyber-cat was the main reason I chose to read the story. As a result Toesy quickly became my favorite character. I loved the way his mindset and behaviors were portrayed. His side story with Carl's friends was engaging read and added depth to the overall story.  

Double Blind is an amusing, action packed mystery with wonderful twists and revelations. I look forward to reading its forthcoming sequel. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

★★★★✩
Artemis Fowl is a young criminal mastermind determined to revive his family's dwindling fortune. He's finally found a copy of a revered fairy book and has decided to kidnap a fairy in order to extort their society for gold. Through a dangerous game of wits and force, Artemis must go up against the fairy tactical retrieval team and keep his hostage from escaping. This is the first book in the Artemis Fowl series.

Artemis Fowl is a middle grade, young adult story. I tend to avoid books with faeries but this one came highly recommended. The fairies in the story are a technologically advanced society that have been driven underground by humans.

The world building was richly detailed and gave a fun, modern twist on faerie lore. I liked that the story focused more on advanced technology and minimized the need for magic. It was fun to read about the different fantastical creatures and the daily operations of the fairy police force .  

The story tends to focus more on Captain Holly Short's attempts to escape and the lengths her unit goes to in order to rescue her. The story gives a sympathetic look at the fairies' plight to remain hidden and survive along with a prominent message on environmentalism. I thought it was interesting how Artemis Fowl became the primary antagonist as the story progressed. Though it was odd that as the title character he seemed more of a background character.

Overall, the story is a fun adventure with great action scenes and amusing moments that made me laugh. The story reinforces the fact that it's part of a series and hints at future fun adventures to come. I liked that the series has it's own hieroglyphic writing system and included a decipherable short story that ran along the bottom of the pages. It gave a fun interactive quality to the book and made me curious about the other books in the series.