Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Museum of Extraordinary Things - Review

Title: The Museum of Extraordinary Things 
Author: Alice Hoffman

Synopsis:    “Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River.
      “The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor’s apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.”

Review: Hoffman has an art for taking the ordinary and making it seem magical. At first I was jealous of Coralie. How awesome would it be to grow up surrounded by fantastical objects like “the hand with eight fingers, the human skull with horns, the preserved remains of a scarlet-colored long-legged bird called a spoonbill, rocks veined with luminous markings the glowed yellow in the dark, as if stars themselves had been trapped inside stone . . . . the jaw of an ancient elephant called a mastodon and the shoes of a giant found in the mountains of Switzerland” (2 & 3) as Coraline describes them. It would be like growing up in a natural history museum combined with items that belong in a store like Obscura Antiques & Oddities (if you haven’t seen the television show Oddities check it out here). My jealousy tapered off as Coralie’s father made more of an appearance and I realized that she is as trapped as the one-hundred-year-old turtle in The Museum.
      Eddie’s story truly brought to light the working and living conditions for the working classes during the early part of the 20th century. I learned about it in school, in several different classes in fact, but it somehow seemed so far away. Even though The Museum of Extraordinary Things is a fiction novel, it is based on some major historical events that did happen during the early 20th century. I took pleasure in watching both characters grow emotionally until they are eventually both right for each other and come together with violent results for those around them. Fans of magical realism, the television show Oddities, and those looking to breathe some magic into their everyday lives will love The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

Publisher: Scribner
ISBN: 978-1451693560

If you like this book you should definitely read: 

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (ISBN: 978-0425190371)
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (ISBN: 978-0553384833)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Farm - Review

Title: The Farm
Author: Emily McKay
Series: The Farm #1

Synopsis: “Life was different in the before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are – holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…
      “And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible. “Lily and her twin sister, Mel, have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else does – like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears of out nowhere, offering to help…
      “Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race…”

Review:   The Farm was wonderful. I read it in one afternoon, in one sitting. Seriously, I didn't even get up to eat or pee. Mel and Lily are great characters faced with a tough decision. Lily doesn't always make the right decisions but everything that she does is because of her love and concern for her sister. I love books with strong female characters. Women don’t always need to be rescued by a man. It’s nice to have another person to lean on occasionally, no one can be strong alone forever, but having a man swoop in to save the day is just insulting. Author Emily McKay allows Lily to be strong. She leans on the people around her when she needs to, but she doesn't have to.
      In my opinion there is an obvious flaw in The Farm. I was a bit turned off by the “head hopping”. If you have read my other reviews then you know that I do not like first person narratives that jump around between more than one character. If you’re going to write in first person then pick a character and stick with them. If you can’t tell your story that way then first person is not the correct point of view for your story! That said, I was able to overlook that flaw and enjoy The Farm. I look forward to reading more in this series.

Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 978-0425257807

If you like this book you may want to read:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

 The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle see BookGirlR’s review here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gil's All Fright Diner & Monster - Reviews

Title: Gil’s All Fright DinerMonster
Author: A. Lee Martinez

Synopsis: Gil’s All Fright Diner : “Duke and Earl are just passing through when they stop at Gil’s for a quick bite to eat. They aren’t planning to stick around – until Loretta, the eatery’s owner, offers them one hundred dollars to take care of her zombie problem. Given that Duke is a werewolf and Earl’s a vampire, this should be easy money.
      “But the shambling dead are just the tip of the iceberg. Seems someone’s out to drive Loretta from the diner and is more than willing to raise a little hell on earth if that’s what it takes. Duke and Earl suddenly find themselves facing such otherworldly complications as undead cattle, an amorous ghost, a jailbait sorceress, and the terrifying occult power of pig Latin,
      “And maybe – just maybe – the END OF THE WORLD, too.”

Monster: “Monster runs a pest control agency. He’s overworked and has domestic troubles – like having the girlfriend from hell.
      “Judy works the night shift at the local Food Plus Mart. Not the most glamorous life, but Judy is happy. No one bothers her, and if she has to spell things out for the night manager every now and again, so be it.           “But when Judy finds a yeti in the freezer aisle eating all the Rocky Road, her life collides with Monster’s in a rather alarming fashion. Because Monster doesn’t catch raccoons; he catches the things that go bump in the night. Things like ogres, trolls, and dragons.
      “Oh, and his girlfriend from hell? She actually is from Hell.”

Book GirlR's Review:  Looking for something a little different? Something fun that doesn't take itself, or anything else, too seriously? Look no further! I loved both of these books. If I had to pick, I like Gil’s All Fright Diner a little bit better, but only because I enjoyed the story a bit more. They are both well written with a wonderful sense of humor. Monster was fun but I didn't particularly care for the characters of Monster or Judy so I found it hard to get into the story like I did with Gil’s All Fright Diner. I’m always on the look-out for something a bit different and both of these novels are just that. I plan of reading more A. Lee Martinez’s novels in the future and I recommend that you do the same.

Publisher: TOR and Orbit
ISBN:   Gil’s All Fright Diner: 9780765350017
             Monster: 9780316049917

If you like this book you may want to read: 

Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez (ISBN: 978-0316049924)

Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin (ISBN: 978-0575085435)

1500+ Books Take A Lot of Boxes To Move (And Are Heavy)

Have you ever moved 1500 books? Plus all the other household essentials like furniture, clothes and dishes? I can now say that I have (I had lots of help). It was not fun, but it was worth it. BookGirlR now lives in a larger apartment in the upstairs of a house with her fiancé, instead of in an apartment complex. Yes, that’s right, since the last time I blogged I have moved, and gotten engaged. This is a huge change for the woman that does not particularly enjoy change. But now that we are mostly settled in (the books are back on the shelves) I’m back.