A Monster Calls

8621462A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

If I were a movie, what would I be rated? PG

Any spoilers in this review? A few. They’ve been blocked out with black highlight. Highlight it again with your mouse to read it.

Summary: The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

My eyes were watering by the end. This is incredibly well done. I was impressed by the writing style. It wasn’t over the top and did such a good job of actually showing and not telling that it packed this story to the brim. The characters were great and you could tell so much about each one because of the writing. The plot isn’t a plot so much as a hard and aching truth that grows in you the way some truth does that you have to face when young.

Everything came together in the most bittersweet way possible. The art added little pieces to the story too. One scene in particular showed the monster hitting Harry, only it showed Conor shoving Harry, not the monster. It was never touched on in the book, but it makes one wonder if the monster was real or not. Especially with lines like this.

There are so many layers to this story that I don’t want to touch them and disturb how perfectly done they are. The writing, characters, and plot were are so intrinsically combined. Wonderful, wonderful job, Ness. I didn’t need my heart, apparently.

I picked up this book because I saw the trailer and it looked really good. Now I can’t wait for the movie! I hope they do the book justice!

What some people might be uncomfortable reading about in this book because of personal opinion or belief: There’s a minuscule amount of cursing. There’s anger and helplessness and this story is very, very heavy and could be depressing for some. There’s no romance or sex.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1)

17675462The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), by Maggie Stiefvater

If I were a movie, what would I be rated? PG-13

SummaryEvery year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her. His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore. 

Guys. Guys, I don’t even know what to say. I feel like I accidentally finished this book, because it wasn’t my intention to read it in two days. And everyone in this book won my heart over. So, on the one hand I’m like, “This is so amazing! I love them all! Look at them! So real! Look how true and complex and realistic their relationships are!” and the other hand I’m wailing in a corner, clutching at my heart because these stupid raven boys.

I don’t think you’lll get a very articulate review out of me. The summary was rather “eh” and I wasn’t ready to be so emotionally compromised. Gah. There feel like there are literally too many things to address.

I was actually yelling, “What does that mean!” after finishing the book, though. And then the summary for the next book explained things.  Anyway, great book. Amazing job. I didn’t need my heart, apparently.

What some people might be uncomfortable reading about in this book because of personal opinion or belief (beware of spoilers below!): cursing is mild. There were a handful of inappropriate sexual comments (love you too, Ronan) and there’s a murder. Two of the characters find the bones of a human being. There’s ghosts. The main character is a daughter of a psychic and lives with psychics, all of whom are touted as real. One of the characters is in an abusive family and, since the POV switches sometimes, you get a chapter where they’re beaten by their father. It’s violent and disturbing. On screen, this may rate an R rating. As it is, precede with caution.

~

Miscellaneous thoughts:

1. I think Persephone is the famous psychic named Leila that was mentioned in passing.

2. The more I read of Adam and Gansey, the more I saw what I imagined Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin would’ve been like. I mean, look:

Maura continued, “You’re avoiding a hard choice. Acting by not acting. You’re ambitious, but you feel like someone’s asking some of you you’re not willing to give. Asking you to compromise your principles. Someone close to you, I think. Your father?”

“Brother, I think,” Persephone said.

“I don’t have a brother, ma’am,” Adam replied. But Blue saw his eyes dart to Gansey. (Page 145)

I read that as was like, “This. This is Godric and Salazar.”** It’s a Slytherin in a tough situation that the Gryffindor wants so desperately to fix, but both have different types of pride, and so neither can really move farther. It was amazing. And the characters all stayed consistent throughout the book. I’m also pretty sure Adam is an INTJ or ISTJ, as some of his thoughts and reasoning was rather exactly what I would think in his situation. Adam is my favorite and needs to be hugged.

~

Quotes of interest:

Blue never grew tired of feeling particularly needed, but sometimes she wished needed felt less like a synonym for useful. —Page 11

Gansey preferred Ronan to his elder brother Declan, and so the lines had been drawn. Adam suspected Gansey’s preference was because Ronan was earnest even if he was horrible, and with Gansey, honesty was golden. —Page 48

Ronan’s expression was still incendiary. His code of honor left no room for infidelity, for casual relationships. It wasn’t that he didn’t condone them; he couldn’t understand them. —Page 49

“I could cover you until you found something.”

There was a very long silence as Adam continued scrubbing his fingers. He didn’t look up at Gansey. This was a conversation they’d had before, and entire days of arguments were replayed in the few moments of quiet. The words had been said often enough that they didn’t need to be said again.

Success meant nothing to Adam if he hadn’t done it for himself. —Page 132

A wrinkle formed between Adam’s eyebrows as he looked away. Not at the double-wides in the foreground, but past them, to the flat, endless field with its tufts of dry grass. So many things survived here without actually living. He said, “it means I never get to be my own person. If I let you cover for me, then I’m yours. I’m his now, and then I’ll be yours.” —133

 

 

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)

8150021Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1), by Jim Butcher

If I were a movie, what would I be rated? R

Summary: Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting. Magic. It can get a guy killed.

One of my best friends loves this series and recommended it. But what ultimately made me pick it up was someone else I know also liked this series. So, I figured, “Hey, one of them is one of my best friends and I know the other semi-well. That’s two people liking the same book. Let’s give this a try.”

So I did. I wasn’t super impressed. I’m glad I saw Jill’s comment on Storm Front’s page, though. This book gets your feet wet. It introduced its main characters, obviously, and gave you an idea of how magic works in this world. It’s interesting. My reaction was mostly “eh” with a bit of “I will stick this out because I think it’ll find its feet and get really good.” The second reaction is mainly because I trust the opinion of one of my best friends. Jill’s answer sold it in terms of academic interest as it were, though.

The most interesting line to me in this entire book—there were one or two that tickled my fancy, but this is the one I actually folded the corner of a page down for (and it was a library book, so shhhhh)—was this one on page 291:

A man’s magic demonstrates what sort of person he is, what is held most deeply inside of him. There is no truer gauge of a man’s character than the way in which he employs his strength, his power.

So, it’ll be interesting in seeing what the rest of the series holds. The characters were okay in this. Hard to get a read on**. The characters will all develop more in future books, I presume. The writing could’ve done more showing instead of telling. I really could’ve done without Harry pointing out again and again that he was old-fashioned. It rankled. (Show, don’t tell!) A few info dumps took away from a scene that could’ve been more heart pounding. Plot was average. Like I said, I think I’ll settle in for the long haul.

What some people might be uncomfortable reading about in this book because of personal opinion or belief: while not delighting in describing sexual scenes or gory details, they are said scenes. Harry never has sex himself in this (although it was kind of hinted at in one sentence in the last few pages?), but there is sensuality and others do off screen. It’s urban fantasy. He’s a PI investigating grisly murders. Proceed with caution.

**Ha. Do you like my pun?

The Martian

18007564The Martian, by Andy Weir

If I were a movie, what would I be rated? R

Summary: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth. As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

This was a very interesting book to read because, as far as I know, it’s all accurate. It seems realistic. But I also feel like I must acknowledge that I wouldn’t know if it weren’t. This is a good thing for the author. As a reader, you just assume the author knows what they’re talking about. And the amount of math and sciencing Watney does to survive is impressive as all get out, but do I have a way of knowing if the math and science is realistic and accurate? No. No, I do not. The amount of math and science thrown at you in this book is enough to make one’s eyes cross at times. I can only assume it’s all accurate. Otherwise, Weir pulled a good one over me.

Hilarious at times, Mark had a good, strong voice. Sadly, most of the third person scenes weren’t as great as they could’ve been. But they did offer a break when reading about Mark felt a bit much, which it did for me towards the end.

I freely admit to watching the movie before reading this. I think the movie had a stronger ending but, overall, this book was good. Considering 75 percent of the book relied on one person all alone with their thoughts to keep you invested, Weir did a great job.

What some people might be uncomfortable reading about in this book because of personal opinion or belief: enough f bombs to make this rated R. Otherwise, there were only five or less sexual comments and it was generally just about Mark surviving Mars. Pretty clean read, considering.