Sunday, January 29, 2012

Incarnate Fun!

Welcome to the Incarnate Theater Treasure Hunt!

This week, forty-eight bloggers celebrate the release of Jodi Meadows's Incarnate by participating in a treasure hunt with clues, activities, and lots of prizes, including signed books and handknit fingerless mitts.

You've reached an ACTIVITY blog, which means here at Libri Ago: Book Lives, you can gain extra entries for Jodi's grand prize drawing by completing our activity and filling out the accompanying form. Then head to the next activity for more Incarnate fun! There are nineteen Incarnate activities around. The more you do, the better your chances of winning the grand prize.

For more information on the Incarnate Theater Treasure Hunt, check out the link to Jodi's post.   Yeah, the one in the previous sentence. Sorry about The Vague.

In the meantime, squee over THIS!! Wondered what all those interesting little bits and pieces the Jodester's been knitting on the sly? Well, here you have them, in all their woolly glory!

Ana and Sam, rendered by Mrs. Meadows herself!

And now, let the activities begin! Remember, creativity and forethought really count in this one!

And for even MORE Grand Prize entering garnering activities, please visit these other Activity blogs (which will have yet more links you can make use of--up to nineteen activities!).

The Mod Podge Bookshelf

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Girl of Fire and Thorns


I loved that the author chose a Spanish-influenced culture for the story's backdrop. In most of the fantasy I've read, the cultures tend toward more English and French roots, with plenty of Norwegian and Viking-ish clones. I've also seen quite a few with Arabic and Egyptian accents, but Spain? I don't think I've read any like that before. That I find very exciting.

So it's refreshing to see that influence in the book, in the character's names, place settings, and even the flow of the language. The fact that I'd recently returned from a trip to Spain before reading likely influenced my notice of the language. As I read, the text flowed with a Spanish cadence through my head, the lull and rise of rolling syllables and the passion behind the words.

That said, I struggled with one element of the story, and it colored my overall impression of the book. The main character, Princess Elisa isn't skinny, not in the least. That's great; books need more characters who represent teens of all colors, shapes, and sizes. The problem I has was with the way Carson handled (treated? I can't think of the right word) Elisa's obesity. Yes, overweight women and teens eat a lot, or at least more than they're burning off through activity, but I don't know of a single woman dealing with weight issues who thinks of food all the time. Sure, Elisa's a stress-eater (I am too, though I've learned to temper it to a good extent), but focusing so much of the character's thoughts on food and eating—always hungry, need food—overstates it to the point of caricature. 

I'm guessing Carson didn't intend for it to come across that way, but with so much emphasis placed on the princess' eating habits (even once she begins to lose weight), it threw the story out of balance for me. It became the story of a fat princess who loses weight, and not the story of an awkward girl who does her best to save a kingdom despite some rather difficult physically and emotional limitations.

All that said, it's an enjoyable read, and I can see how it has so many devoted fans. The book was reminiscent of—and perhaps a tribute to—Tamora Pierce's Alanna series. So I'm giving this book 3 1/2 stars with the hope that the sequel will improve upon the first and make this a 5-star series.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy of this book.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Clockwork Prince

Somewhere in my brain, I'd already reviewed Clockwork Prince, the second book in Cassandra Clare's THE INFERNAL DEVICES (prequel series to Clare's hugely popular THE IMMORTAL INSTRUMENTS series), but maybe I just dreamed that, or maybe my brain referred to me mentioning the absolute hot-boyness of cover character James "Jem" Carstairs . . . because I would definitely have mentioned it, trust me.

But I guess, I didn't, and far be if from me to argue with the Libri Ago archives.  So! On with the review!

Needless to say, I bought the book. I'd have bought the book if I hated it, just for that cover, and buying it story-unread is next to the same thing, there's proof.

However, I did enjoy the story, though as is often the case, it took me a little while to get over my personal distaste regarding Clare's style of narrative. I generally love her dialogue, but many a narrative sentence is mentally tightened, de-passive-voiced, or unrepetitivized (yes, I'm making up words; I'm allowed) whilst I read. Also, as seems par for the course with a Clare book, the things I loved, I loved, but the things I disliked, I really disliked, so for the sake of keeping things straight, I'll divide the two.


*Will's vulnerability and subsequent hope. In the beginning, we only know Will's main goal in life seems to make himself appear utterly unlikable, forget lovable. We find out why, and we also find out that even though Will is forced to play the game with certain parameters, he's by no means given up changing things.

*Jem's fragility, backed by optimism. The boy is dying, and yet, he keeps himself open to the happiness to be had in his short life. Of course, the fact that Jem is so very good makes me suspect him of every foul betrayal in the world, but we'll see. Maybe Clare will cut us a break.

*The revelation that husband and wife actually love one another very much, and have been victims of miscomunications.

*A certain warlock. 'Nuff said.


*Tessa's fickleness. I don't care if she's the heroine. I don't care of she's not entirely human, or if she's under a lot of pressure, or if yes, her choices of love interest are particularly amazing, I cannot buy her having the same intensity of feelings--especially physical--for both Will and Jem. Sometimes I felt as if I should see her being more drawn to Will, but it was a weakly written bit. I make no secret of it. I don't like Tessa, and I don't think she's a very well-developed character.

* Jessamine, but that's a no-brainer. How any girl could be that naive voluntarily . . . sheesh.

*Like I said, the narrative, which is sometimes wont to wander over hill and dale.

In general, the book definitely hit-it-off better with me than the first TID novel, and has accomplished garnering my interest in the conclusion, Clockwork Princess. I said of Angel, if you bought the other Clare books, buy this one out to complete your set. if you didn't, make use of you library card, and enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Emperor's Knife

There's a crazy, swervy border between subtle and vague writing, and it takes quite a bit of education and error before one lands on the desired side of it. In my opinion, Mazarkis Williams has pulled it off with the novel, The Emperor's Knife

While I don't mean to imply Williams plays it safe throughout the book--many bold moves and slightly-uncomfortable moments are to be had--the story plays out as a clear starter installment without falling prey to thinness or complete translucence. Or in less fancy terms, even though you go in knowing this book is the beginning in a series, and everything has that clear "set up for what's next" feel, it's still incredibly satisfying. Like a really good appetizer, or a small cup of loaded potato soup, the world-building comes across rich, intriguing, and what losses are to be had strike at the heart, despite so little (comparatively) time to become connected to all the characters individually.

I hesitate to summarize the book as being a sort of The Girl of Fire and Thorns for boys, because A). GFT appeals to boys too, and is not girl-liked-exclusive, and I think the exact reverse of Knife: it might *trend* more toward a male reader, but it will still have great appeal for female readers.

All that being said, here's the skinny: Take a well-done bit of Prince of Persia (yes, the video game, and no, I don't mean the movie, which was pretty, but not much else), some of  Tamora Pierce's awesome everything-development, wrap it in a nice, warm, Piers Anthony Adept Series, and add a Juliet Marillier pillow, and you're rocking out a pretty crafty "prophesied overthrowing of a corrupt monarchy" story, set in desert-ish lands, with sentient glyphs, evil spirits, and a sheltered kid brother heir.

I was lucky enough to get my eyeballs on an eARC through Netgalley, but I'd--*thinks*--yeah, I'd endorse a Buy on this one.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cry Wolf


Cry Wolf by Angela Campbell

Sorry, no rippling teen werewolf abs or sparklepire foes in this tale. Just a good old-fashioned story of a reporter out to debunk an urban legend.

I love that a modern story involving a werewolf can be categorized as a contemporary realistic book. Realism FTW! I'm so ready for the paranormal phase to be over and get back to the good old-fashioned ghost, monster, and urban legend stories. I prefer to outrun scary creatures, not date them.

Before getting to the heart of the review, I do have one confession to make*: I have a large weakness for stories involving reporters and/or editors from small-town newspapers, or from big papers sent to small towns. It has to do with some of my college-hood dreams. I majored in journalism, later working as a reporter and then an editor at a large metropolitan newspaper. Honestly, I'm still a reporter at heart. Even now I get all squiggly inside thinking about how much fun it'd be to spend a few years working at a small-town newspaper.** 

So when I saw that Cry Wolf incorporated a) a big-city reporter coming to a small-town to investigate an b) urban myth in the form of a werewolf, with a c) romance likely to develop, I was a goner. Absolutely perfect.

That said, it was a nice story on the merits of the writing and characters as well. I'll admit I don't have many nitpicks, but probably more so because I got lost in the story. Which, honestly, should be the goal of every writer. 

It's a fun read, with a romance that feels rather realistic (including sexy bits, if you're at all concerned about that), and a kitten. How could it not be good when there's a rescued kitten? I don't think it's possible. 

Joking aside, I liked this book. Four stars to the author for an enjoyable ride. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys light, fun romances with a touch of mystery.

*I mention this now because there is a very good possibility that other books of this nature will cross the pages of this blog, and fairly soon. There are a couple of them winking at me from my TBR pile. Those little minxes.

**It'll have to be a small one since most of the big ones are going kaput. Or being handed over to untrained bloggers, but I won't get into that. *tries not to grumble*

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bye bye 2011

Now that the holidays have flown on by, we'll be jumping back into our regularly scheduled programming here at Libri Ago. There are some excellent books up ahead this year, and we can't wait to tell you all about them.