The Shadow’s Curse

Amy McCulloch’s sequel to The Oathbreaker’s Shadow had many of the elements I loved in the first installment. The unique ways she incorporates magic into her fantasy world continue to impress me. There remains something profound about being literally bound by your word and being haunted by broken promises. She takes this further in the sequel, with pieces of the ones who break the oath going to comfort and protect the jilted party. It recognizes that there are layers in people, and that a part of someone didn’t want to break their promise and would do anything not to hurt the one they have hurt. Beautiful metaphors all over this text.

I found the nomadic people’s view of the city dwellers and farmers interesting. The idea that they had captured and enslaved the land in an unnatural way makes the reader think about modern life from a new perspective.

Many of the characters are misguided and make foolish, selfish or reckless decisions. It’s didactic in the way they recognize their mistakes and in many cases atone for them. However, it’s written in such a way that it is not a boring lesson on keeping your word, or being careful who you offer your loyalty to. There are moments of suspense and exciting action.

I think this would make an excellent role playing video game. There would be shadows and consequences based on the player’s choices within the game. The setting would be beautiful and the fight scenes or sage tricks would be challenging.

I think with some editing this duology could have been one great novel. I’m not convinced it needed to be two and would strongly have preferred they work better independently if there had to be more than one book.

End of 2010 Survey!

The Perpetual Page Turner is hosting this survey. Go to her blog to link to the responses by tons of bloggers.

White Cat (Curse Workers, #1)1. Best book of 2010? This is hard! Since there are so many great books I’m going to interpret this as: best YA book published in 2010 to narrow it down. Holly Black’s White Cat was pretty incredible. It has action, mystery and suspense, not to mention character depth and all around awesomeness. I’m picking this book because it’s not just something I loved myself, it’s one that I confidently recommended to my younger brother, my mother and my friends. It is very rare that I think a book would appeal to all of them but Holly Black’s writing will be appreciated by a variety of audiences.

Dateable Rules, The: A Guide to the Sexes2. Worst book of 2010? I’m not usually a book basher, but there was this really terrible book I picked up at work. Dateable Rules, The: A Guide to the Sexes was really awful. At first I thought it looked pretty cool, but um no on closer inspection it’s incredibly sexist and makes me angry. According to this book men need to “conquer” and be in power in the relationship, and women need to “learn to shut up”. The fact that I disagreed with the religious nonsense just added to my general dislike of the book.

linger cover art3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010?  I was most disappointed with Linger by Maggie Stiefvater. I loved Shiver so much that I over-anticipated the sequel. It’s not that it was terrible, it just didn’t live up to the hype in my mind. I’ll still read the next book in the series but my expectations have gone down a few notches.

Generation Dead (Generation Dead, #1)4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? I was most surprised by Generation Dead. I forced myself to read a zombie book (I’m quite squeamish) because I was TRYING to have a zombie night at the library for teens (no one showed up but that’s a different story). I was pleasantly surprised by Daniel Waters! His book is a beautiful social commentary about discrimination, and I found myself loving the zombies and their friends. The book I was dreading turned out to my one of my favourites, and I’ve been recommending it a lot.

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010? I have a hard time answering this because I recommend things every day, at work, to friends, on the blog…I’be probably promoted Scaredy Squirrel the most but that’s not YA. My recommendations really depend on how I’m recommending it to.

The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset
6. Best series you discovered in 2010? The Hunger Games trilogy! I can’t believe I resisted reading it for so long. Everyone kept telling me to read it and I was like “kids killing each other? Ick!”  because I thought it was just violence for violence’s sake. Once I realized that Collins is critiquing violence, reality tv, and oppressive governments, I was all in. I love dystopia and social commentary. Plus there’s tons of suspenseful action, Katniss kicks butt and Peeta is a sweetie, how could you not love the series?

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010? Suzanne Collins, Daniel Waters, Gemma Malley, Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black, Kim Harrison, Simone Elkeles….

8. Most hilarious read of 2010?  The Feegles in The Wintersmith had me laughing pretty hard.

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?  The Hunger Games trilogy. I read it in 4 days and it would have been less if I didn’t have to wait to get the next book.

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010? I think it was Linger but I mentioned earlier how that worked out.

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010?


nightshade cover links to reviewRules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry, #2)Sisters Red cover art

12. Most memorable character in 2010?  I was most struck by Cassel from White Cat, Chloe from the Summoning and Haymitch from Hunger Games but so many more characters touched me this year

 13. Most beautifully written book in 2010? I love the Scottish and formal language of The Forest Laird. Laini Taylor’s Lips Touch Three Times was pretty poetic.

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? Most books have a pretty big impact on me, I don’t think I can choose.

 
15. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read?  The Hunger GamesI’ve already explained why

 Book Blogging in 2010 (optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2010? To be honest I just started really following any blogs in 2010. Jan 2010 my friend Erin opened my eyes to book blogs and I’ve been eating them up ever since. Some of my favourites are The Green Bean Teen Queen, Forever Young Adult, The Story Siren, Pure Imagination, and YA Bliss. I’ve also been reading Mark Reads  every day and he’s a good one to follow for a specific book but he has less variety.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2010?  I liked reviewing The Resistance, Generation Dead, and Sisters Red (I have a lot of trouble deciding)

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?  I wrote a post about why sometimes reading formulaic books is reassuring. I unfortunately haven’t had enough people commenting to work up a good discussion between people. It’s something I’d like to have next year.

 4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog? I really enjoy the discussions on the Forever Young Adult blog. They manage to be hilarious but bring up serious issues at the same time. For example their post about resolutions that makes some good points about changes I’d like to see in YA writing/publishing but is laugh out loud funny.

 

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? The Ontario Library Association Super Conference was amazing. It was my first conference and I was thrilled just to be on the expo floor getting autographed books, fighting stormtroopers and learning about new technology. That I got to go to informative sessions beyond that blew my mind. I can’t wait for more conferences.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2010? This is all really new to me and I’m pretty easily excited, so I have trouble picking a specific moment.

7. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Um I’m gonna go with book trailers, I don’t think I knew about them in 2009 and they are a great way to promote books. I also love my new Kobo.

Rules of Attraction

Today’s Review: Rules Of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry, #2)The Premise
Rules of Attraction is about Carlos, an ex-gang member who is sent to live with his brother to try to start a new life. At first he has no interest in following rules because he thinks his brother is conforming, abandoning his Mexican heritage and being whipped by his girlfriend. When Carlos is framed for drug dealing he is sentenced to live with a sponsor family and take part in after school therapy group for at risk teens.

This is a sequel to Perfect Chemistry but I didn’t read that I found that Rules of Attraction stands alone nicely

The Narrative

The chapters alternate between Carlos’ POV and the perspective of Kiara, the daughter of his sponsor parents. This is the most successful use of alternate perspectives I can remember reading. In Shiver it was an OK tool to see both sides but Sam and Grace (the characters in that story) did not provide the striking contrast that Carlos and Kiara do.

Carlos is hostile, suspicious, critical and stubborn. It’s very clear from his chapters how he feels about his situation. Carlos’ thoughts about the violence and poverty of the past are necessary to frame the story and explain his rebellious nature.  .

I think Kiara’s perspective makes this book more accessible for middle class or upper-class girls. I think a lot of the high school girls who read this won’t be able to relate to Carlos and the hostility of his POV, so seeing him through Kiara’s eyes helps them feel more connected to the story. 

Watching things unfold from both sides is a wonderful experience, especially because Elkeles avoids too much overlap.

Character Development

Even though I knew Carlos would be a tough guy who turned out to have a sweet side Elkele’s layering of his character was well written. The overall effect was predictable, but the intimate moments where he let down his guard were heart-renching! He felt like a real person, shaped by his experiences. He is incredibly flawed but an awesome person all the same. At first even though I felt bad for him I didn’t like him much. He was too cocky but at the same time had no ambition beyond maintaining his tough image. NOT someone I would normally be attracted to, but he won me over!

Kiera is someone I’d want to be friends with. She’s smart, self-conscious, a good sister, adventurous and brave. Carlos is surprised that she is not afraid to get her hands dirty when working on her car, cooking, hiking or playing sports.

Kiera’s father and Alex are the only two secondary characters that I felt were fully developed. Others like Madison (a girl interested in Carlos), and Brandon (Kiera’s brother) had some meat but many like Tuck were just token stereotypes. I think you get more about Alex in Perfect Chemistry.

Amazing things about this book

  • Carlos and Alex are proud of their Mexican heritage. Elkeles uses Spanish in their dialogue, talks about their homesickness for authentic Mexican food and they argue about what it means to be Mexican.
  • They are not exaggerating when they say the romance in this book is smoldering. The make out scenes are really sexy, the heat between the characters is believable
  • It does a good job at showing that moving and not wanting to be a drug dealer anymore isn’t always enough. I think people scoff at those who feel trapped in those situations, saying they could leave if they wanted, but the way Carlos is forced into the gang scene again is terrifying! Elkeles shows us the mindset of someone in that situation
  • The cover art is fantastic. I think I should make a mural or something out of gorgeous YA covers.
  • Carlos’ transformation doesn’t feel too forced. He doesn’t go from bad ass to good guy in a matter of pages, he makes connections with people, sees possibilities, dares to dream beyond the present because he’s given better options he hadn’t considered possible

Important to have in a library collection because

  • Deals with gangs, drugs and sex, and I think at risk teens or any teens really should be able to see these harsh realities in fiction. It’s also great for them to see that it’s not a dead-end if you want more
  • Diversity of characters. Mexican characters are prominent and gay characters are featured, I think having minorities represented in your collection is really important.
  • A female character who fixes cars and does typically masculine things while maintaining her femininity. I’ve gotten in a few feminist arguments this week haha so I’m happy to see a woman who doesn’t need to be rescued constantly in YA
  • This is going to popular and in demand, so libraries should respond to this demand

Fabulous book overall, even if I found the epilogue to be a bit much.

In My Mailbox

More holds coming in from the library before I’m finished with the last bunch!

This post is part of the IMM meme hosted by The Story Siren 

 
R2 Mail 2
I wish this was really my mailbox
This week’s books:

Rules Of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

“When Alex chose to get jumped out of the gang for a chance at a future with his gringa girlfriend, Brittany, Carlos felt shocked and betrayed.”

 A love story about ex gangsters, I think it has potential.

Twilight the Graphic Novel adaptation by Young Kim. I’ve been curious about this for a while. Honestly not expecting to like it because what I liked about Twilight was how easy it was to BE Bella, the way the narrative went. This won’t be the same, but I feel like I want to at least look at it.

book cover of   Freedom's Choice    (Catteni, book 2)  by  Anne McCaffreyFreedom’s Choice by Anne McCaffrey. I read it in high school but I like to reread things before bed because if I’m reading something new it keeps me up.