Archive for January, 2011

The Ice Maiden

The Ice Maiden is one of Hans Christian Andersen’s longest fairy tales, and also one of his more depressing ones. It stars a young boy named Rudy who was born in the Swiss Alps. His father is dead and his mother journey’s to her father’s house with Rudy nothing but a baby in her arms. On the way she slips and falls into a deep chasm filled with snow. She and the child are buried in it and it is some time before the people they are traveling with can dig them out. By then the mother is dead, though the child miraculously survives.

The child is then taken to his grandfather’s and from there eventually to his uncle’s house where he grows up and becomes strong. He is a talented climber, an excellent mountain guide and a very good hunter. Being a good hunter ends up working to his benefit as it brings him to the notice of the upper class. Little Rudy has grown into a very handsome young man and he has his eyes set on Babette, the miller’s daughter. The miller is less than pleased at Rudy’s attentions and sets an impossible task for him, to climb up to a very dangerous mountain peak and fetch back a baby eaglet alive. Rudy has gotten this far and survived, while climbing and hunting in the dangerous and treacherous Alps, with the staunch belief that if he believes in his success that he will succeed and he takes the attitude to the top of the mountain crag and manages to get the baby eaglet without breaking his neck.

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Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 20

[openbook booknumber=”9781421530345″][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.

Betrayal and double-crossing are the order of the day. Greed, Pride and Envy prove to be formidable enemies, but one homunculus seems to be having pangs of – could it be? – conscience. Ominous news spreads quickly about a mysterious portal. Will this gateway help the Elric brothers regain their natural bodies? And will the gigantic underground transmutation circle be completed, leading to a major regime change? Plus, a moving reunion between Al and someone from his past!

We are now approaching the beginning of the end. The good guys have regained their footing and are starting a counter strike that is going to lead us right through the finale. Ed proves that he is a total bad ass. Again. Al meets up with someone from his past and gets some much needed answers concerning the history of the homunculi. And, speaking of the homunculi, some major things happen within their ranks as well. The humor is back and things start to take a much more positive spin as people realize they can bond together and with hard work can overcome their difficulties no matter how outnumbered or outmatched they are.

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Nightshade

[openbook booknumber=”9780399254826″][rating:3/5]

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

This book left me feeling half and half about it. On the one hand there is this super strong heroine with this wicked awesome back story and world built around her that is fascinating to read about. On the other hand, there were some unrealistic elements and some of the character building left something to be desired. The plot was super fast paced and it was an awesome page turner, but the fast plot left out some elements that could have made this story a lot better. So, I’m torn on a lot of it.

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Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 19

[openbook booknumber=”9781421525686″][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.

Ed’s clever plan to take out an enemy leaves him severely injured… Can he cheat death? One of our friends discovers the ironic secret behind Scar’s brother’s transmutation notes. And Major General Armstrong meets with evil homunculus President Bradley. Whose side is she on again…?

Plus, the disturbing origin of Ed and Al’s immortal father finally revealed!

Wow, holy back story, Batman! We get some serious history on the fall of the city of Cselkcess and some very awesome implications for what that means for the history of alchemy as a whole. I love how all these pieces are falling into place and it shows that Arakawa has been planning a lot of the story from the beginning and it is totally awesome to see it all come into play bit by bit as this story unfolds. I also really like the use of Jewish mythology, and Kabbalah, as symbols and metaphors to help explain the roots of various parts of alchemy. It ends up working out really well and giving real depth and meaning to the “science” behind the world built here.

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Incarceron

[openbook booknumber=”9780803733961″][rating:5/5]

Incarceron is a prison unlike any other: Its inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped.

Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner, can’t remember his childhood and believes he came from Outside Incarceron. He’s going to escape, even though most inmates don’t believe that Outside even exists. And then Finn finds a crystal key and through it, a girl named Claudia.

Claudia claims to live Outside – her father is the Warden of Incarceron and she’s doomed to an arranged marriage. If she helps Finn escape, she will need his help in return.

But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost far more than they know.

Because Incarceron is alive.

This book absolutely blew me away. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting going into yet another YA dystopian novel, especially one about prisons, but this wasn’t it. I was impressed by the depth and drive of the book and am glad this one joined the ranks.

Incarceron contains the story of a boy named Finn trapped in a prison where an entire colony of people have been kept for generations. Unlike the others though he has no memories of his youth there, instead he has flashes of a world completely unlike the prison, a world Outside that some in the prison don’t even believe exists. Meanwhile the warden of Incarceron lives in the outside world where people have deliberately chosen to live in a medieval time era, in the dark ages. His daughter Claudia feels trapped, by her skirts and her time, by her arranged marriage to the prince, by her father most of all who she both fears and loves. When Finn and Claudia both find a key that allows them to communicate they both immediately want to be free of their respective prisons, but doing so unearths more truths in their worlds of lies than either could have anticipated.

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