Thursday, March 27, 2014

Will o' the Wisp by Tom Hammock

After her parents' accidental death by mushroom poisoning, young Aurora Grimeon is sent to live with her estranged grandfather on Ossuary Isle, deep in the southern swamps. Joined by her grandfather's pet raccoon Missy, Aurora explores the fog-covered island of graves. Along the way she meets its sinister residents who care for the tombstones and mausoleums, living out their lives by the strange rules of Hoodoo magic. When ghostly things start happening out in the swamp and island residents start disappearing, Aurora thrusts herself into the middle of the mystery, uncovering secrets that might be better left buried.
This isn't the type of graphic novel I would typically read, but I was able to get an advance digital copy so I thought I would give it a try and I'm glad I did. It has a creepy feel to it without going in to any kind of gory territory, so I think this would be OK for younger readers (young teen/preteen). The story kept me interested and the drawings themselves were a bit different. I don't mean different in a bad way or anything, just the style itself isn't something I've seen a lot of. It seemed to be based on a certain color palette and I think that's how the illustrator gave it the spooky/mysterious quality.

I liked the characters a lot (and Missy the raccoon was really cute). The pacing and drawings were very well done. The story wraps up nicely at the end but I'm hoping there will be more to the story.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Runner by Patrick Lee

Published February 18, 2014
by Minotaur Books
Sam Dryden, retired special forces, lives a quiet life in a small town on the coast of Southern California. While out on a run in the middle of the night, a young girl runs into him on the seaside boardwalk. Barefoot and terrified, she’s running from a group of heavily armed men with one clear goal—to kill the fleeing child. After Dryden helps her evade her pursuers, he learns that the eleven year old, for as long as she can remember, has been kept in a secret prison by forces within the government. But she doesn’t know much beyond her own name, Rachel. She only remembers the past two months of her life—and that she has a skill that makes her very dangerous to these men and the hidden men in charge.

Dryden, who lost his wife and young daughter in an accident five years ago, agrees to help her try to unravel her own past and make sense of it, to protect her from the people who are moving heaven and earth to find them both. Although Dryden is only one man, he’s a man with the extraordinary skills and experience—as a Ranger, a Delta, and five years doing off-the-book black ops with an elite team. But, as he slowly begins to discover, the highly trained paramilitary forces on their heels is the only part of the danger they must face. Will Rachel’s own unremembered past be the most deadly of them all?
This book was so good! It was fast paced and exciting and I never knew which way it was going to go next. This guy (Dryden) is like a Jason Bourne level of bad-ass. While there isn't much hand-to-hand fighting, his smarts and skills keep you on your toes. Just when I think Patrick Lee wrote his character in to an inescapable situation, he makes an unexpected a move and the action continues.

Well done and exciting, I didn't want to put the book down.While the traditional parts of a "thriller" are there, there are also some sci-fi elements there as well. I don't want to give too much information because I don't want to ruin it for anyone. I went in not knowing much and I think that's probably the best way to read it. I can't say enough good things about this book. If you like a good thriller, this is one of the best I've read in years.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Troop by Nick Cutter
Published January 7, 2014
by Gallery Books*
Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins in this frightening novel written in the bestselling traditions of Stephen King and Scott Smith.

Boy Scouts live by the motto “Be Prepared.” However, nothing can prepare this group of young boys and their scoutmaster for what they encounter on a small, deserted island, as they settle down for a weekend of campfires, merit badges, and survival lessons.

Everything changes when a haggard stranger in tattered clothing appears out of nowhere and collapses on the campers’ doorstep. Before the night is through, this stranger will end up infecting one of the troop’s own with a bioengineered horror that’s straight out of their worst nightmares. Now stranded on the island with no communication to the outside world, the troop learns to battle much more than the elements, as they are pitted against something nature never intended…and eventually each other.

“Lean and crisp and over-the-top....Disquieting, disturbing,” says Scott Smith, author of The Ruins and A Simple Plan, The Troop is a visceral burn of a read that combines boldly drawn characters with a fantastically rendered narrative—a terrifying story you’ll never forget.
This book was... gross. But that was only due to the fact that scenes were described so well. I mean, they were pretty gory and I had a hard time reading some of the scenes. I actually had to skip some of them because I wanted to gag a little bit. It was weird because I can usually deal with gross scenes, but in this case I just couldn't do it.

The story splits between what is going on on the island where the Boy Scout Troop is and interviews conducted by the government about what happened that caused the events (for example, a scientist who created something bad that spread). I don't want to give away too much, but it makes people so insanely hungry that they will eat anything (though thankfully not humans- if there were zombies this would have been beyond horrifying) while quickly wasting away no matter how much they eat.

The content was good, but as I said before you probably need a stronger stomach to get through this. The story was fast paced and kept me coming back to see what would happen next despite the creepy shivers I'd get every time I got to a gross scene.

*I received a free digital copy to review.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh 

Named one of the Funniest Sites on the Web by PC World and winner of the 2011 Bloggies Awards for Most Humorous Weblog and Best Writing, the creator of the immensely popular “Hyperbole and a Half” blog presents an illustrated collection of her hilarious stories with fifty percent new content.
In a four-color, illustrated collection of stories and essays, Allie Brosh’s debut Hyperbole and a Half chronicles the many “learning experiences” Brosh has endured as a result of her own character flaws, and the horrible experiences that other people have had to endure because she was such a terrible child. Possibly the worst child. For example, one time she ate an entire cake just to spite her mother.

Brosh’s website receives millions of unique visitors a month and hundreds of thousands of visitors a day. This amalgamation of new material and reader favorites from Brosh's blog includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; the highs and mostly lows of owning a smart, neurotic dog and a mentally challenged one; and moving, honest, and darkly comic essays tackling her struggles with depression and anxiety, among other anecdotes from Brosh's life. Artful, poignant, and uproarious, Brosh’s self-reflections have already captured the hearts of countless readers and her book is one that fans and newcomers alike will treasure.
This was a highly entertaining book that didn't take me very long to get through. I love Brosh's blog Hyperbole and a Half and it was like reading her blog in printed form... The pictures from both her book and blog are probably the best part, by the way. I found her writing about her experience with depression to be touching and explained in a way that it makes it easier for people who have never dealt with it to understand.

OK, I'll be honest. You could skip buying the book and read the blog for some of the chapters in the book, but the book is highly entertaining and when you want to read it you don't need internet access. Also, it's very colorful and doesn't require batteries to read it... unless you're reading it at in the dark by flashlight. And if you really prefer a digital version it's available on Kindle and other electronical versions. But if you like her blog you'll like this book.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Before I Die by Candy Chang

Published November 5, 2013

What do you want to do before you die?

When artist Candy Chang painted the side of an abandoned building with chalkboard paint and asked her neighbors this question, she never expected it to become a worldwide phenomenon. Within a day of the wall’s completion, however, it was covered in colorful chalk dreams as people stopped and reflected on their lives. Since then, more than two hundred walls have been created by people all over the world.  This beautifully designed book is an inspiring celebration of these walls. Filled with our hopes, fears, humor, and heartbreak, it’s a reminder of our shared connections and a chance to ponder life’s ultimate question.
Candy Chang is an artist that (I think at least) brings people together with her interactive projects. This project specifically started as something for the community (in New Orleans) and it has since spread world wide. Some of the things people wrote were funny, some were sad, and some inspiring.

The book is filled with pictures and stories and, at the end of the book, it tells you how to make your own "Before I die" wall in your community. This is something that, with the help and resources, would be a great project for my town. While it's not the kind of book I typically read, it was a nice change and is something I'll probably leave on my coffee table and look at from time to time when I need some inspiration.