Archive for December, 2010

The Rebellion of Jane Clarke

[openbook booknumber=”0061782149″][rating:4/5]

For generations, the Winslow and Clarke families have been feuding over rights to the mill stream, but Jane Clarke has managed to stay removed from the fray. While she doesn’t doubt her father’s claims, she also does not harbor ill will towards the Winslows. Yet Jane cannot remain untouched after someone hacks the ears off Mr. Winslow’s horse. Everyone in Satucket believes Jane’s father is the culprit. Is her father the kind of man who could commit such a horrible act? Suddenly, Jane’s long-held placidity is shattered and her trust shaken. Adding to her distress is Phinnie Paine, the suitor her father wishes her to marry.

When Jane defies her father and refuses Paine’s offer she is sent away to Boston to care for a troublesome aunt. Arriving in the bustling city awash with Redcoats and rebellious fervor, Jane discovers she cannot escape the conflicts defining her life. Father against daughter, Winslow against Clarke, loyalist against rebel-the battles are complicated by her seemingly unbalanced aunt, the unexpectedly kind British soldiers, the townspeople who taunt them, and her beloved brother, a law clerk working for John Adams, who is fervently channeling his own frustrations into acts of sedition.

When Jane witnesses British soldiers kill five colonists on a cold March evening in 1770, she understands she has become engulfed in forces greater than herself, knowledge that forces her to question seeming truths… and face the most difficult choices of her life.

This historical novel takes place on the eve of the American Revolution. Jane is a young woman who lives in a world that is more in flux than she realizes. Families are facing off against families, revolutionaries against loyalists and even father against daughter as Jane questions her father’s beliefs and actions and ultimately decides to not marry the man he has picked out for her.

Read More »

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 16

[openbook booknumber=”9781421513812″][rating:5/5]

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

The brothers pursue fugitive May Chang to solve the mystery of why their alchemical powers were rendered inert while she and Scar continued to be able to wield them. Meanwhile, Scar enlists some unlikely help to delve into the secrets of his brother’s alchemical knowledge. And the newest, most horrifying homunculus makes an appearance…!

In volume 16 it is back to the action after the volume long flashback last time, but first there is going to be a change of scenery. The brothers want to pursue May and Scar to ask them about how the perform their type of alchemy, referred to as the purification arts. Things still start with a slow disengage from the heavy, raw and emotional revealings of the previous volume, but once the boys skip town things begin to take on a sense of urgency.

Read More »

Zombies vs. Unicorns

[openbook booknumber=”9781416989530″][rating:4/5]

Which is better, the zombie or the unicorn?

Justine Larbalestier says that zombies are our own walking deaths. Funny, grim, and terrifying, they cannot be escaped. Unicorns are sparkly and pastel and fart rainbows.

Holly Black says that unicorns are healers, arbiters of justice, and, occasionally, majestic man-killers. Zombies drool and shed and probably carry diseases.

Some of today’s finest writers have chosen their side, creating dazzling stories about both creatures. So read on, and decide for yourself:

Are you Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

Just for the record I am Team Unicorn all the way. I have loved unicorns since I was very small. I had stuffed animal unicorns, my little pony action figures that were unicorns, even unicorn wallpaper on the walls of my bedroom (oh yes, there were rainbows too, why do you ask?). I was a huge fantasy fan even then. Zombies have been a much more recent addition to my life and while I do find them frightening intriguing frightening, but in an intriguing way, I don’t normally get much enjoyment out of reading about them.

With this attitude I cracked open Zombies vs. Unicorns, a short story anthology edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black. The purpose of this book is to have a show down between short stories about zombies and short stories about unicorns to see which one would come out on top. Some of the best YA fantasy authors contributed to this collection and it shows. Even the stories that weren’t as powerful as some of the others still had a shine to them that I appreciated and I didn’t feel that there was a dull one in the bunch.

Read More »

Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 15

[openbook booknumber=”1421513803″][rating:5/5]

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical ‘auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that an restore his and his brother’s bodies… the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

The horrors of the Ishbalan campaign occurred years before Ed became a state alchemist, and had serious repercussions, which set the tone for the complicated dealings of present-day state politics. Lieutenant Hawkeye reluctantly tells Ed all the dread details of the role Colonel Mustang and the other state alchemists played in this tragic event.

In volume 15 we get one big, huge, volume long flashback. But, don’t worry, every moment is worth it. We hear about what the war in Ishbala was like for Mustang and his men and we get to see Hughes again! We also get some Mustang/Hawkeye back story. The scenes depicting the war were brutally realistic and heart breaking. The gravity of the war and it’s affect on both sides and in every rank was dealt with in a very serious and realistic manner. The parallels between this war and World War II were very obviously drawn, even down to the mass extermination and human experimentation. War is hard and cold and makes monsters out of us all.

Read More »

Snow White and Rose Red

The story Snow White and Rose Red is a more obscure Grimm fairy tale. While it has a Snow White in it, she is not the Snow White of Disney fame. She is a young girl that has recently lost her father and lives with her widowed mother and her sister Rose Red. This story is one of the few in the world of fairy tales that has a functional single parent family. The mother and the two daughters all love each other very much and work together without any issue even through the problems and trials they face.

While the sisters are very different their love and devotion to each other is plain to see and their mother describes them as inseparable. Snow White is a home body, she is quiet and reserved and loves the fall and winter when she bustles about to make the family warm, toasty, and comfortable. Rose Red prefers the outdoors, she is much louder and more boisterous than her sister and loves the spring and summer when she bustles about to bring the outdoors in for her family to enjoy.

The sisters often go off into the forest together where they never come to any harm. They commune with the animals and never have anything to fear from them. They talk to rabbits and deer and never lose their way. I thought this was interesting because I know Walt Disney adopts this later for his Disney Princesses, they all commune with nature and have the ability to talk to (and receive aid from) woodland creatures. It’s a sign of their purity and their goodness.

Read More »