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Page Turning Paula

A girl. Her dog. And books...lots of books.

SYLO - D.J. MacHale The premise of Sylo is such: Tucker Pierce is an average high school kid who is floating along. He is on the football team but he hates playing. He gets average grades. He doesn't have any idea about what he wants to when he grows up. And as far as he's concerned - that's all fine with him. Unfortunately his peaceful uneventful island life is quickly changed. During the big game of the season the star player drops dead on the field. As the island mourns the player- the military arrives and quarantines the island because of a mysterious virus (the suspected reason of the player's death). Something doesn't sit well with Tucker and his friends and they are thrown into the middle of discovering what the virus is, what the SYLO unit of the military is, and what exactly is going on on Pemberwick Island...

Why I gave it 3.5/4-
The Pace: I know first books of series tend to be full of exposition... but the SYLO did get a bit slow at points. But even with that being said- I still finished it in three days. And also characteristic of a first book in a series- I did not feel as though there was any sort of resolution. The main question of the book (who is SYLO/Why was Pemberwick locked down) wasn't answered until the last few pages. And now I have to wait a whole year to know just why these things are important.
The Characters: I can tell that all of these characters have the potential to be really awesome. I am excited to see how the next two books have them grow. Also- without being a spoiler- Tucker was warned not to trust anyone. at all. So now I'm anxiously awaiting and guessing who might be a secret bad guy or girl. I think I have an idea... but again have to wait a whole year ahhh!

Overall it was a very entertaining book. I am excited for next year to get here and read on and find out what happens to Tucker and his friends. If you need a mystery/dystopian/new series to check out, I suggest you go track down a copy of SYLO when it is released.

Review also on: http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com
Skippy Dies - Paul Murray 3.5 stars. A bit slow to get into but I really enjoyed it once I did.
Touching the Surface - Kimberly Sabatini Okay so I want to qualify this review with a warning that I hardly ever read Young Adult fiction so I am probably not the best person to review this book. Everything I say should be taken with a giant grain of salt. Also I am going to keep the review short and sweet.

I asked to review the book because the concept behind it sounded really intriguing. The idea behind the novel was that when you die you arrive at Obmil (limbo) and have to stay there until you figure out who you were in your past life and can grow and move on to whatever is next (be it heaven, hell, round 2 of life). I really like stories that present ideas of the afterlife so I was excited to see what this book had to offer.

Pros of the book:
-I liked the world that was created and the idea that the souls and people you know will always be connected to you.

Cons of the book:
- I found the characters really flat. This book deals with a lot of heavy ideas and I felt no connection to any character or reason to care about any of them. At the end of the book I didn't feel like I knew any of the characters and any aspect of their personality felt like an afterthought.
-The love triangle was really frustrating. It felt like Elliot (main character) would change her mind on who she liked every other page and depending on what mood she was in. So when she finally "realized" who she loved at the end it was not believable.
-The writing was pretty choppy and hard to follow. And what almost made me put the book down was that "OMG" was actually used in a sentence.

Review also on: http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com
The Sand Child - Tahar Ben Jelloun, Alan Sheridan started off really strong. the story was intriguing and the character's motives and interactions were fascinating. but then as the main character lost themselves - so did the whole narrative framework. I understand what the author was trying to do... with the whole idea of starting over from scratch and reinventing oneself ... but the story got lost and I lost interest. unfortunate because it was quite good for 3/4 of the novel.
The Well of Lost Plots - Jasper Fforde Probably my favorite Thursday Next book so far. And the end made me appreciate his other series (The Nursery Crimes) which I read before I started this one. Because he's clever and it's all beginning to intertwine.
Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking - Susan  Cain Found some parts fascinating. And then some parts were incredibly boring and I wanted to skip through.
The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett My epub file was missing the whole section where he goes to visit Death. And yet I still found the novel quite enjoyable (after I filled in the plot holes via the interwebs)

Ray Bradbury Presents Dinosaur Samurai

Dinosaur Samurai - Stephen Leigh, John J.  Miller not enough dinosaurs in this one. haraumph.
Lizard - Banana Yoshimoto So unfortunately I did that thing I always do where I don't write the review right after I read a book. And now it's 3 weeks later and I'm straining my brain to remember what I wanted to say about the book. Sorry I'm dumb.

This was the second book I read by Yoshimoto (my first was Kitchen which I loveeeed) and I really enjoyed it. That's saying a lot for me too because I don't usually enjoy short stories.

I'm not sure what exactly I can say that will properly imprint how the book left me feeling. Her writing is beautiful and exact. Short and to the point, and yet still capable of making me remind myself to breathe after a passage makes lose my breath. The stories in Lizard aren't exactly related to each other- rather they all are focused around the idea of hope. She gives us snap shots of someone despairing- either because a drab day or because of life in general - and then ends the story with a glimmer of hope that makes you smile. This whole book makes the attempt to show you that things will be okay.

For example the first story shows us a man on the train who is disappointed with his life. He doesn't want to go home to his wife. He's considering just riding the train until the end of the line. Getting off there and starting all over. A random person sits down next to him and starts asking him about his wife and reminding him of the reasons he fell in love with her in the first place. This whole book is like that. There is nothing extraordinary happening. No big revelations. Just snap shots of people going on and making the most of what they have.

Since I'm not sure if I am doing a good job explaining this book, I'll leave you with my favorite quote. When I read it, I flipped the page back and read it again. And then I called my best friend and read it to him. I probably would have read it to anyone walking past my porch at the time too.

“Your love is different from mine. What I mean is, when you close your eyes, for that moment, the center of the universe comes to reside within you. And you become a small figure within that vastness, which spreads without limit behind you, and continues to expand at tremendous speed, to engulf all of my past, even before I was born, and every word I've ever written, and each view I've seen, and all the constellations, and the darkness of outer space that surrounds the small blue ball that is earth. Then, when you open your eyes, all that disappears.
I anticipate the next time you are troubled and must close your eyes again.
The way we think may be completely different, but you and I are an ancient, archetypal couple, the original man and woman. We are the model for Adam and Eve. For all couples in love, there comes a moment when a man gazes at a woman with the very same kind of realization. It is an infinite helix, the dance of two souls resonating, like the twist of DNA, like the vast universe.
Oddly, at that moment, she looked over at me and smiled. As if in response to what I'd been thinking, she said, "That was beautiful. I'll never forget it.”

All in all it was a quick and satisfying read. Pick it up if you get a chance. 3.5 stars

Review also on: http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com
Paper Towns - John Green Probably closer to 2.5

I tried to enjoy it. Yes some of the lines were pretty. and yes some other parts were thought provoking...But most of the time I was just rolling my eyes at Margo and John Green's constant use of the MPDG archetype.

The Long Earth - Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett Imagine you are going about your business one day and as you take your next step you find yourself in a field you've never seen before. When you step back, you find yourself back home. The Long Earth explores the possibility of parallel earths that are just a step away from our own. Once this phenomenon of "stepping" has been discovered- people all around Earth 1 "The Datum Earth" start wondering what is out there on the Long Earth and how it will change civilization as we know it. The main characters, Joshua - a natural stepper, and Lobsang - a super intelligent computer, in particular have a desire to explore the entirety of the Long Earth in an attempt to figure out why it's there.

My thoughts: There were a lot of really cool concepts in this book as well as a lot of things that didn't feel quite developed enough. The idea of The Long Earth and the consequences of its discovery is really awesome. Some immediate consequences were that people were stepping away from their lives to run away from their problems- one day they just stepped away from everything and just kept walking into the unknown. Other people and communities saw it as an attempt to restart civilization on a random Earth and see if they can do any better than what is on the Datum. The idea of an infinite number of Earths was really neat as well- because on each one, things were slightly different than the one before because evolution took a slightly different path.

But some things didn't feel like they were wrapped up completely... (and I cannot find evidence if there will be a second book or not). In fact, I really hope there is a second book because if this is a stand alone then I am pretty disappointed in the ending. If it is the beginning of a series/trilogy/something then I can see how this was just the setup for things to come.

Why I gave it a 3: As I mentioned above, the ending didn't feel resolved. Also, sometimes while I was reading I kept wondering "okay so where is the plot?" I get that Joshua and Lobsang were trying to travel to Earth Million (and beyond) to try and figure out why The Long Earth existed... but really that's all it was- they were traveling with small glimpses of the strangeness of what was below them. I don't know if maybe I was missing some greater point of "No really, what is the point of all of this" or if it really was lacking a bit plot wise. That being said it wasn't a bad book- the characters were enjoyable and so were some of the oddities they stumbled upon. I hope there is a continuation that really explores what has happened to the Datum earth now that the majority of people have fled to restart their lives. All in all, I think it's an interesting beginning to something- I just hope it's actually getting continued.
The Passage  - Justin Cronin The only thing that upsets me about this book is that I now have to wait until part 2 is released. I want it now.
Until I Find You - John Irving I never thought I would consider a John Irving novel a waste of time. But alas, here I am.
The Book of Heroes - Miyuki Miyabe First off, let me apologize for my absence on the blog. So far 2012 has been light on the reading front, I think I may have burned myself out a bit last year and so I'm trying not to over-read now. I know that's not an excuse to all you lovely readers, but merely an explanation. Anyway.. on to what you are actually here for.

The story is thus: Yuriko is a normal elementary school girl. Her family is average, etc etc. Then one day she is called out of class because an incident has occurred. It turns out that her brother went to school that day and killed and injured two classmates. Everyone was shocked because he was a model student. Yuriko quickly learns (from talking books no less!) that her brother has been possessed by The Hero. The Hero (and The King in Yellow) is the manifestation of every hero story ever told, while he is everything good, The King in Yellow is the other side of the coin and represents everything bad. In order to save her brother (and stop him from bringing chaos into the world), Yuriko must become the allcaste and journey to defeat the King in Yellow.

There were really fantastic elements to it. My favorite part (that I mentioned briefly) was Aju, a dictionary that befriends Yuriko and travels along side of her. There is the nameless land filled with nameless devout who keep the stories of the world in motion. And crazy monsters like giant floating eyeballs or tornado like hands that come down from the sky and tear up everything in their path.

I really don't know how to describe everything I enjoyed about this book. It created ideas behind books, stories, readers, and authors that I would never have dreamed of before. For a large part of the novel, the group travels into a "region" which turns out to be a fantasy novel. Yuriko travels with a character from the book in order to follow after The Hero's incarnation of that story. Because if she can stop his progress in one story, she can stop his progress in her world, because then his story stops being told and his chaos can't happen. Are you following? I promise it makes sense.

The only way I can properly describe this book is that the whole time I was reading it, I wanted to be reading it out loud to someone. It had this magical quality to it that I just wanted to share with someone. But instead of just shoving the book in their hand and telling them to read it, I wanted to experience it along side with them. Does that make sense?

My two problems with this book (which aren't really the books fault anyway) were that:
1. I kept comparing it to Brave Story. I caught myself doing this far too much. They are similar themed books - something awful happens, kid gets gathered up in a magical land to try and fix it, awesome adventures ensue. With that being said, they are entirely different books, and it was not fair of me to compare one to the other. But I found it fairly distracting and I found that The Book of Heroes did not stand up as well as Brave Story. That's why it wasn't a 5+ for me.

2. Sometimes Yuriko could fall flat as a heroine. I say this - and then let me qualify it. I would find myself disappointed in how she acted and then have to remind myself that she was acting exactly like a 10 year old would. When she was confronted by a giant floating eyeball... she started screaming. So here I am wondering why she wasn't busting out some crazy move to defeat it and then I have to stop myself and think "..wait a second... I would be screaming and crying too, and I'm not 10" So it wasn't the books fault- if anything Miyabe did a good job of capturing how freaked out a little kid would be by an experience like this.

I highly recommend this book. And Brave Story. And... if nothing else the cover is gorgeous!
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green probably more like a 3.75
The Demi-Monde: Winter (The Demi-Monde Saga, #) - Rod Rees I got this book a few weeks ago and I just finished it the other day. I wont blame it being a slow read on the book completely - there were holidays going on and I had life and work distracting me. Sadly with life being frantic, every time I looked at the book sitting on my bedside table, I sighed. Anyway- on to the review.

The Demi-Monde: Winter is hard to classify genre wise. I'm not sure if it should be considered Cyberpunk or Steampunk, although it is certainly dystopian.
The premise of the novel is that in the Real World, the military has created a computer simulation to help prepare soldiers for war. Once you're hooked up you are completely immersed (think similar to the Matrix). The world you are sent to in the simulation is the Demi-Monde, which is a world filled with all of history's baddies, and so it constantly on the brink of war. However, one of these baddies has retained some of his old consciousness and wants to get out - so he steals the President's daughter and holds her hostage in the Demi-Monde. So the government finds Ella and promises her a lot of money in order to enter the Demi-Monde to save the President's daughter.

I thought the over all concept of the novel was pretty cool. I love history, so the idea of bringing a lot of history's evil psychopaths together was highly entertaining for me. And what you get is a world filled with a lot of hatred, persecution and oppression. And you have a lot of revolutionaries trying to fight the system who become just as crazed as they tyrants they are against (i.e. the character Trixie Dashwood)

I enjoyed the main character Ella, she is thrown into this world with no briefing what-so-ever and just runs with it. She has a lot going against her in this world: A. being a "shade" (being black) and B. being a woman. But she is unstoppable (mainly because she wants to get out of this awful place) and it's really fun to see what plans she comes up with to try and save Norma.

The only thing I found irksome in the novel was the lack of established time period. The military says that they stopped the technology at around 1890, so you have a steampunk aspect to the book, but then you have sections of the world that seem to exist in the 1920s and others that seem stuck in the Tudor era. I understand that since Rees was throwing characters from all over the time spectrum together things like that might happen, but it was just really hard to imagine what people were wearing and how they should be behaving. That might have been one of the reasons it took so long to read, because his world building wasn't quite complete.

I am looking forward to the next one and hopefully little quirks that didn't quite work in this one will have been worked out. Overall: 3.5 stars