Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rot & Ruin.

Title/Author: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry.

Genre: YA/Dystopian/Horror.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Tommy Imura.

Favorite quote:  "It was the same moon, but it looked different now. He knew it always would." ~about Benny.

All in all: Excellent. I would recommend this for anyone.

Synopsis: In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be

My Thoughts: This is NOT a zombie novel.

This is a novel about Benny Imura and how he grows up within a few short weeks. It’s about relationships and understanding yourself and having the courage to choose to do what you feel is right. The setting just happens to be an apocalyptic world with zombies. However, it’s not the undead that are the biggest threat. The biggest threat is ignorance and the people who profit from this way of life.

The plot kept me entertained and excited throughout the story. Everything weaves together in a cohesive thread and circles around to completion, from the events of First Night when the zombie apocalypse started to the differences between zombie “hunters” to the introduction of The Lost Girl to the Imura brother’s parents.

Benny’s growth is interesting to experience. He is at first any typical teen who is kind of whiny, a bit lazy, sullen and moody. During his apprenticeship with his brother he has a revelation and his world view changes. Then his world literally changes and he is forced to cowboy up, summon his courage and take action to protect people he loves.  I like how he then steps up to protect strangers because now he truly understands what it means to do what is right.  The action scenes are specific without being overly detailed, well thought out and I could visualize each move. I like reading fight and strategy scenes that I can envision clearly.

***SPOILER ALERT: At first Benny’s behaviors regarding Nix confused me. I couldn’t tell what his feelings were. But then I liked that, because I found it realistic and if memory serves me correctly, typical of a teen age boy. It seems to me he keeps his own feelings about her at arms length and his obsession for The Lost Girl right in front of him. I like that his actions weren’t cut and dried and I liked that he had to explore what he wanted and how he felt.  I ended up loving the romance thread in this book. :END SPOILER ALERT***

I also really liked his friend Chong. He didn’t have a large role, but he shines when he is present. He is the smart one of the group and gives astute commentary when his friends don't seem to "get it." My favorite character is Tommy. He is a swoonworthy hero and his stoic, calm demeanor reminds me of western sheriffs who know how to get the job done. He wasn’t all business though, he smiled and joked around with his brother, but I have to say I prefer him in his strong & silent type persona.

Also, I loved the format. Maberry has many graphic novels under his belt and I could see the influences in Rot & Ruin. The way the page numbers are angled, chapter titles - they all add to the unique look of this book. I also absolutely loved the trading cards, not only within the novel but the ones depicted at the end of the book. But I pictured Tommy a little different.

This is a really enjoyable, fun book that goes a little deeper into character, human behavior and dips it’s toe into social issues as well. It is the first one of a trilogy, but the story tied itself up neatly and still left a little bit to anticipate.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Browsing: Brick & Mortar, Online, Libraries.

 Yes, do! Then let me know so I can link to it in mine.

Ruby from Ruby's Reads wrote an excellent post regarding her feelings on browsing. Please check it out HERE.

In response to her question, Do I feel that online browsing is significantly different than in a bookstore?

When I browse in a bookstore, I love to be around all of those books!  I love to see the covers, pick them up and physically touch them.  I love to read the first page, thumb through them, maybe scan a passage or two to see if the writing and story will interest me.  I enjoy going to a section of the store to see what is new on the shelves.  So yeah, I do love to browse in a physical bookstore. 

Now I'm trying to stick with the question, which relates to browsing not buying.  However, it's very difficult for me to go into a bookstore and not buy any books.  If I walk out of a book establishment without a book in hand, I feel kind of...empty.  But buying books can be expensive and I'm super choosy about which books I am going to spend my hard earned money on.  I also don't have a ton of room, so for me to purchase a book, it's a big deal. 

Unfortunately, I've been disenchanted and frustrated with some of the larger chain mortar and brick bookstores.  I'm not going to badmouth any particular store or employee personally, but let's just say I have a lot of odd stories about bookstores.  This is just MY personal experience, but maybe it adds to my reluctance of going into bookstores.

This is when my practical voice reminds me that I can find a lot of the books cheaper online or better yet, free at the library.

Granted, online I don't have any of the perks I have in a bookstore.  However, I can still do quite a bit. I can find the first book in a series so that I can start from square one if I choose. I can see what else the author has written. I can read what other people thought about books. I can browse through an author's older work, not just new releases. I can look at people's lists and I can get lost in book cyberspace. I always, always, always discover some book of interest to put on my wishlist.  All this at my fingertips.  As for that empty feeling of walking away without any books.  I don't experience it when I browse online.  Maybe because I'm not physically handling the books.  I can simply leave the site.  I never had them in my hand to begin with, they were only in a virtual shopping cart that will still be there intact the next time I visit. 

My very favorite place to browse for books?  The library.  It is the best of both worlds.  I can physically touch the books and they're free.  I know libararies weed out older books and those that don't get circulated frequently, but in my library I always seem to discover a treasure.  More often than not, I can find the first book in a series, sometimes even if that first book was written over 10 years ago.  Sure, I can't keep them forever, but it's okay.  I don't have to be choosy or picky or worry that I spent my money on a book I won't enjoy.  I can still do all the things I can do in a bookstore and then I can take them home and read them and hold them and love them before returning them to let someone else do the same.  I can start them and if they don't hold my interest, I can return them.  If I'm slow to read them I can renew them.  What I also like is the "green" factor of libraries.  One book, many people.  If I do happen to have a question at the library, I can either look it up on their computer or ask a librarian who always seem to have the answer within a few strokes of the keyboard.

So that's some of my browsing experiences and thoughts. What are yours?

Monday, July 25, 2011


Title/Author: Horns by Joe Hill.

Genre: Horror/Supernatural.

Publisher: Harper.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Terry.

All in all: Solid, creepy, tragic story.

Synopsis: Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with a pair of horns growing from his temples.

At first, Ig thought the horns were a hallucination, the product of a mind damaged by rage and grief. He had spent the last year in a lonely, private purgatory, following the death of his beloved, Merrin Williams, who had been raped and murdered under inexplicable circumstances. A mental breakdown would have been the most natural thing in the world. But there was nothing natural about the horns, which were all too real.

Once, the righteous Ig had enjoyed the life of the blessed. But Merrin's death damned all that. The only suspect in the crime, Ig was never charged or tried. And he was never cleared. Nothing Ig can do or say matters. Everyone it seems, including God, has abandoned him. Everyone that is, but the devil inside. . . .

Now Ig is possessed of a terrible new power—a macabre talent he intends to use to find the monster who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. It's time for a little revenge . . . it's time the devil had his due . . .

My Thoughts: Wow. I mean…Wow.

I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved. This story is just remarkable. All the twists and turns, the metaphors and symbols, the dread and foreshadowing, characters and motives. It is rich and deep and thoughtful, but not so much as to be confusing. It was a pleasure for me to read and become involved in the lives of Ig, Lee, Terry and Merrin. Right away I was drawn in by Ig, his plight and his frustration. One tragic event took all his happiness and his future away from him and he became a different person, an unlikeable person, a pariah, ostracized.

And this is before he grew horns.

The horns just drove it home. The powers he gets with them are not always controllable and in a way make him vulnerable. His discoveries into the minds of people around him, especially people he loves is poignant and to watch him struggle with their suspicions and their own demons is painful.

The secrets intrigued me and when a clue is hinted at or revealed, I felt like I had fit a puzzle piece into the picture. Elements of the truth are swirling around and then as you read, you’re finally grasping them. I loved how everything came back around, something mentioned at the beginning or along the way suddenly had meaning.

My favorite symbolism are the horns themselves. Ig’s father and brother are musicians. Horn players. Ig could never play because of his asthma. I found it ironic that he grew horns instead. I also loved the metaphor of the Treehouse. The events surrounding that treehouse are eerie and reading about their experiences regarding it gives meaning to the term someone walking on my grave. It reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. I liked the theological symbolism too. The crosses. Good and evil. Who is who? What is what? What does evil really mean? Other recurring themes I found intriguing were water and fire. Did anyone else who read this notice that?

I thought the characters were complex and believable. I wanted to know their motives and thoughts and Hill delivers. 

I thought it interesting that Merrin is a character the reader never meets. She is seen through everyone else’s eyes. This gives her, in a way, a status that is not quite real and fits with the symbolism. Is she a sinner or Saint? Is she perfect or simply human? What was she thinking when she sent Ig Morse Code or texted Lee (her and Ig’s friend) or confided in him?

***SPOILER ALERT-Please highlight to read: What I really didn’t like is that the bad guy died at the end. That was too good for him. I wanted him to be found out for who he was and for Ig to be vindicated. I am also disappointed with Merrin's choice. Yes, her sister succumbed to cancer and she was diagnosed. But the medical industry makes strides and progress every year and just because her sister passed away from the disease, didn’t mean that Merrin necessarily would. I know that this was Merrin’s decision and it is extremely personal. She didn't want to go through what her sister did and didn't want her family to suffer. But it just made me sad. I also understand that if she behaved that way, there would be no story. I had also kind of thought that maybe Ig would come across one person who would be kind to him and be good and pure even under the influence of his Horns. I bet this person is Merrin. :END SPOILER ALERT***

The writing is also excellent.  I visualized the settings, the events and related to the character's feelings.  I think Hill uses amazing vocabulary without being pretentious.  It flowed naturally for me. 

If you like theological questions, thrillers, mysteries, scary stories or just well written stories, I encourage you to check out Horns.  


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