Janice Y. (jai) - Reviews

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Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori, Bk 1)
Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori, Bk 1)
Author: Lian Hearn
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 54
Review Date: 8/27/2006
Helpful Score: 5


By the time I read a page of this book I was completely sucked in and completed it in a few hours. Set in a world similar to feudal japan but with magical elements, this story centers around a boy whose life is completely changed in one day. Outside forces and his birth ensure that his life will never be normal. I was very interested in the world that the author created - a tribe of assassins with special inherited powers, feudal lords, revenge, arranged marriages, and a young man coming of age. Well written characters. A little angsty.


The Adventures of Holly Hobbie
The Adventures of Holly Hobbie
Author: Richard Dubelman
Book Type: Unknown Binding
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/15/2009


The Adventures of Holly Hobbie was based on the character called of "Holly Hobbie", a bonnet and rag-dress wearing girl named after her creator. In this story the Dutton family is in mourning after the disappearance and believed death of Melville Dutton, an archaeologist working to find a lost ancient city in Guatemala. His daughter Liz is still unconvinced that her father is dead and one night the ghost of another girl, Holly Hobbie, an ancestor living in a painting at her family's farm appears and agrees to help Liz. Through some cunning and adults who didn't seem *that* alarmed about the missing girls travelling on their own, Liz and Holly manage to travel from Massachusetts to New York to Washington D.C, and then to Mexico and Guatamala investigating what her father was working on and discovering who could be involved in his disappearance.

Overall: Despite this book being a bit dated (it has lots of color illustrations that have people in very old fashioned clothes), and the strangeness (Is this a more paranoid view we have now?) of two teenage girls with so much independance, it was a pretty good read. I know why I liked the book so much - it's the type of book that teaches you along with having an exciting story. While Holly and Liz went about their adventures the reader picks up information about history and the Maya. I learned a few things reading it. It felt like the writer Richard Dubelman really researched his subject and wanted kids to learn about the Maya culture. It did not feel dumbed down either, and it was refreshing to have two smart girls as heroines. I also noticed that the writer had a film background as a producer, and I thought to myself that the book does read as an 80's kids adventure movie, sort of like "Escape to Witch Mountain" or something, I could see it in my mind's eye complete with a predictable bad guy. Still, this held up surprisingly well to time, and while it has a young adult audience it was well written and educational.


Airhead
Airhead
Author: Meg Cabot
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 38
Review Date: 3/13/2010


This is the first book in a series, and there looks to be a lot of set up for the next books. The story really feels like a beginning and I didn't feel as satisfied closing this book as I have with other Cabot stories. There seems to be more going on with this brain transfer than it would initially seem. There should be plenty of fodder there for an interesting series. I particularly like how Meg Cabot seems aware of the current celebrity news and fashion, and it's reflected in this story. I found myself wondering what real life teen idols Cabot had in mind while she created some of these characters.

Overall: Well, this is Meg Cabot, so the story is a light bit of fun. Cabot has a way of writing that's warm and entertaining and has the right voice for a young adult novel, but this one spends so much time setting up the premise for the series so I feel like I got just the beginning of a story. it made me feel unsatisfied, but maybe reading the next book will fix it.

My full review: http://janicu.livejournal.com/95928.html


Alchemy
Alchemy
Author: Margaret Mahy
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.5/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 6/30/2007
Helpful Score: 2


I really like Margaret Mahy's novels - they are about teenagers and strange things happen to them - sort of young adult contemportary fantasy. Seventeen year old Roland is a popular young man - prefect at Ault Academy, dating the prettiest girl in school, smart, good-looking and has a good relationship with most of his teachers. But underneath it all, throughout his life Roland has felt that something inside him is warning him to be "careful", that he has to keep up his wholesome, normal image. He thinks it is because his father left when he was 10 and Roland must be a good, strong person that his mother can rely on. Things begin to change for him when one day one of Roland's teachers asks Roland to make friends with and keep an eye out for Jess Ferret, a quiet, unnoticable girl in Roland's classes. Jess is hiding something and Roland wants to know what it is. In this story almost everyone is more than they initially seem. Roland finds out that he has supressed something from his past that is the key to what is going on and who he is.


Alien Taste (Ukiah Oregon, Bk 1)
Alien Taste (Ukiah Oregon, Bk 1)
Author: Wen Spencer
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 80
Review Date: 3/21/2007
Helpful Score: 5


I started reading all of Wen Spencer's books after reading "Tinker" and I think I like this series even better than the Tinker series. Spencer's plots always seem very well thought out and I usually feel satisfied by the time I get to the end of the book. Her characters are very compelling as well - she always has an intruiging backstory, and this is no exception. Ukiah Oregon is a tracker who works with a private investigator, and he is an ununsual young man in that he was found in the middle of the forest eating a rabbit - he was raised by wolves (!!) and has uncanny abilities at tracking and a photographic memory. He has a young innocence which contrasts with his superior abilities. This story starts out with Ukiah tracking a possible kidnap victim but soon Ukiah gets tangled up in something much bigger which also involves his past and where he came from. I want to go on about Spencer's original ideas but I think its more fun to read the book and find out for yourself. I really enjoyed this one.


All Seated on the Ground
All Seated on the Ground
Author: Connie Willis
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 6/28/2009


This is a small hardcover novella and at 126 pages it's a very quick read. The jacket blurb says that the author is "a huge fan of the holidays and their accompanying frivolity and nonsense, and has written a marvelous array of Christmas stories". This is one of them. The story starts off in Denver where a space ship has landed on the Denver University campus, and six aliens have gotten out. Instead of doing anything expected like trying to take over the world or kidnap Earth women, these aliens just glare at everyone in disapproval.

Overall: I thought this was a cute, lighthearted, story with a tongue-in-cheek message. There's also a lot of Christmas and other holiday season songs, many versions of which I'd never heard of. Probably a nice story to read aloud closer to Christmas season.


An Accidental Goddess
An Accidental Goddess
Author: Linnea Sinclair
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 84
Review Date: 6/19/2008
Helpful Score: 2


Gillaine Davré is hiding the fact that she's a Raheiran from her love interest Admiral Rynan Makarian, a Khalaran. The Raheiran's are a more technologically advanced race with psychic abilities try not to interfere much with the development of other races. About 342 years ago Gilliane fought against her ancient enemies the Melandans, and was thrown into a time-warp which made her appear in the present where she learns the Khalarans have turned her into a goddess. She is horrified to learn that she is worshipped and that even Ryan is a follower. Things get even more complicated from there. There were a few amusing moments throughout the book which kept it pretty light, and a lot of other characters in the space station where the book takes place, which kept things interesting. I'm beginning to see these books as a guaranteed good time. Totally fun to get into.


Angel With Attitude
Angel With Attitude
Author: Michelle Rowen
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 188
Review Date: 11/15/2006
Helpful Score: 8


A light hearted story about an angel (Valerie Grace) who becomes a fallen angel seemingly out of the blue (first a note is shoved at her about the rules to abide by if you are a fallen angel, then she finds herself naked and in a killer whale tank). She is determined to find out why she was kicked out of heaven and to get back, but problems abound. First of all, she is assigned a Temptor Demon, Nathanial, whose job it is to tempt her to Hell, and she has trouble saying no. Then her friend gets turned into a rat by his witch girlfriend. Then she finds out that another demon, Julian, has the Key to Heaven and if he uses the key it could mean the end of the world, and she's the only one to stop him. Overall a cute, amusing story, though I found Val to be a little too cute or saccarine, even with her snarky remarks to Nathaniel and the faults other characters thought she had.


Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, Bk 1)
Review Date: 6/26/2007
Helpful Score: 5


Book 1 of the series. Class clown humor that made me snort unexpectedly a few times. Written as diary entries from the POV of a british schoolgirl. Georgia always seems to be surrounded by the weirdest people - her cat (Angus) is the size of a small pony and eats floor mats and terrorizes the neighbor's dog, her little sister hides her diapers in Georgia's bed, and her grandfather just speaks in non sequiturs (and that's just her family). Her best friend Jas is sometimes not the brightest girl and sarcasm just gets past her and the rest of the girls are similarly amusing. Georgia herself is rather silly - obssessed with certain features like her eyebrows (she shaved them off by mistake), her nose, her hair. Last but certainly not least is of course all the boys - particularly an older boy Georgia calls Sex God who Georgia is always trying to date. A fast read and not meant to be a serious book. A lot of british slang is used in the books, which some people may find annoying (I didn't), but there is a glossary at the end of the book which is amusing in itself to help. Fun!


Any Given Doomsday (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 1)
Any Given Doomsday (Phoenix Chronicles, Bk 1)
Author: Lori Handeland
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 163
Review Date: 3/15/2009


I thought the book was OK. There were fascinating world-building aspects like the Nephalim from the Book of Enoch, Liz's talent, and her dreams with Ruthie. There are also some hints of past history that I found interesting regarding Jimmy and Sawyer, but they were done in a way that I had just enough to understand it, rather than feeling like just enough was being held back to make me confused. The dialog is flippant at times, but flowed well, and it did seem to fit Liz's personality. The book does fit more under the urban fantasy genre than it does as a paranormal romance - there is no HEA, at least in this book, and the ending leaves a lot of room for further developments, but there are a few sex scenes and maybe more attention to relationships than I usually see in urban fantasy. Both relationships with Jimmy and Sawyer have a dark edge to them, mostly because everyone involved is pretty emotionally flawed. I am not sure who she will eventually end up with, but both of the men have not treated Liz well. I wasn't sure I liked either of them and sometimes I wasn't sure if I liked Liz either. Still, it does make the characters very interesting and I'd like to see how it develops. I'd like to see Liz more confident in her powers, which hopefully we will see in the next book. The author's letter to her readers in the back of the book mentions Laurell K Hamilton as an inspiration, and I could see maybe a hint of that regarding Liz's hidden power we learn about later. I have to say I sort of ... mmm, I don't quite like it, because I think it has a potential to make the books take a turn into territory that many people complain about with Hamiliton's books, but this book is a far cry from that, so I'll just wait and see.


Aphrodite's Kiss (Aphrodite, Bk 1)
Aphrodite's Kiss (Aphrodite, Bk 1)
Author: Julie Kenner
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 147
Review Date: 4/16/2007
Helpful Score: 3


A silly, cute type book. Written in a sort of chick-lit style with a protagonist who is a children's librarian and half-superhero, and about to enter a role full time as a Protector. That is, if she doesn't fail her test or decline the job - both of which means she will become mortal and suffer a memory wipe. Losing her memory will mean forgeting her superhero relatives (her dad and big brother). Her powers are x-ray vision, super strength and super sensitivity (chocolate makes her practically explode), but her ability to move objects is almost non-existent. Meanwhile she has met a man she is interested in, but he is mortal and she is afraid of entering a relationship with him, and her cousin (who is being tested the same time as she is), is doing all he can to make her fail her superhero test. Several characters with interconnecting threads as the evildoers scheme and maneuver while the good-guys are mostly blissfully unaware and bumble along.


The Architect of Sleep
The Architect of Sleep
Author: Steven R. Boyett
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 12/31/2006
Helpful Score: 5


A pleasantly surprising story. A hidden gem, very well written and very interesting. Jim Bentley goes about his business on a typical day: feeds his dog, makes plans to see a movie with his girlfriend, checks in with work at his nightjob at a 7-11, and then goes spelunking for the day. Then his life is turned upside down when he goes through some kind of weird portal in the cave. Everything looks different, species almost extinct on Earth are plentiful and he can't find a sign of his vehicle or anyone else. And then he meets a raccoon who is much larger than raccoons he knows, and who is much more intelligent - able to use sign language to communicate. Jim says "Need I say it? I was Charlton Heston. This was Planet of the Raccoons". I recommend this story because it was very well written - Jim's emotions are believeable and the pace in which he learns about the culture and assimilates the language and what has happened feels real. This is written from the first person objective of both Jim and Truck (the first raccoon he meets). A great deal of thought has gone into explaining the sign language of the raccoons and their verb/tenses, which I found to be fascinating. Their hierarchy and the tale of civil unrest and intrigue was fascinating as well. One warning - this book is the first part of a planned series and because of a disagreement with the publisher, there were no more books published. But Steven Boyett's website indicates that he is working on the sequel(s) and on publishing it/them. More on that here: http://www.steveboy.com/archetyp.html


Ariel (Change, Bk 1)
Ariel (Change, Bk 1)
Author: Steven R. Boyett
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 8/24/2009


Pete is a high school student in Florida when suddenly technology stops. Planes fall out of the sky, cars and electricity stop working. Riots begin, and Pete is cut off from his parents who work too far away from his home or school to easily walk. Civilization tumbles into its lowest form - pure chaos and everyone for themselves. Mythical creatures begin to appear, such as Ariel, a unicorn who befriends Pete. To survive Pete and Ariel journey from town to town, and living off the land for food and shelter.

Overall: The book really leaves an impact, even a year later I feel a bit haunted. It's not really young adult although Pete starts off as a teen when the book begins; there are some violent and sad things that happen here which are described rather matter-of-factly. There's a mixture of both hope and loss after reading Ariel. I plan to read Elegy which is the sequel to Ariel, thirty years later. Elegy comes out November 3rd, 2009.


Armed  &  Magical (Raine Benares, Bk 2)
Armed & Magical (Raine Benares, Bk 2)
Author: Lisa Shearin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 84
Review Date: 3/15/2009
Helpful Score: 3


Almost as enjoyable as the first book - plenty of action and Raine's usual humor to keep the book going nicely. As in book 1, the voice is light and more urban fantasy than straight fantasy, and a lot of surprisingly modern words are used in this world. That's refreshing for some, maybe not so for others.

I did have a couple of nits however. One was on page 108 (yes, I did write it down!). There was a paragraph describing Raine's relationship with Tam that I swear was word for word exactly the same as the first book. I wouldn't have noticed if I didn't read these books almost back to back, but it really threw me out of the story. After that I started noticing vaguely familiar sentences, though nothing like the same word for word paragraph. It was weird. Another thing is that I still didn't quite understand in the end why the songspell students were kidnapped by who originally kidnapped them. I hope the third book resolves some of the mystery.

Looking forward to book 3. Raine is amassing an awful lot of enemies in this one - book 3 will likely be teeming with people wanting her blood!


Around-the-Clock Protector (Ultimate Heroes) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1040)
Around-the-Clock Protector (Ultimate Heroes) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1040)
Author: Jan Hambright
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 29
Review Date: 3/15/2009


Carson Nash saves Ava Ross from russians in a mission mission with his team (a CIA rescue operation). He's shocked to find that Ava is who he rescued because she was supposed to have died in a plane crash 4 months ago. Now she's alive, with little memory of the last 4 months, and pregnant - with HIS baby!

OK. I believed in the romance between the two characters here and saw reasons for their attraction. There was more showing then telling and I liked Ava in particular. I was somewhat annoyed at the "raging" lust Carson keeps feeling for Ava though, even when she's unconscious and beaten and he just rescued her. Time and a place buddy. There were also big plotholes (or maybe I missed something and was just confused), like exactly how Ava wasn't on the plane when it crashed and how she had amnesia and didn't know who she was but walked around free without going to the police? I feel like I missed something? Did I? Finally - I didn't like this sentence: "Ava relaxed, letting the total-man-dominance thing sweep her into ecstacy". Total-man-dominance thing...?


Art Geeks and Prom Queens
Art Geeks and Prom Queens
Author: Alyson Noel
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 26
Review Date: 8/7/2006
Helpful Score: 2


This book reminded me of the movie "mean girls". I think because both had main characters who arrive at a new school and are pretty enough to get into the "in" crowd and then aren't sure if that's where they want to be. In this case, Rio is the daughter of a famous model, so she has the genes to infiltrate the beautiful crowd, which is what her mother would love her to do, but initially she feels more comfortable with the art geeks. Soon she gets very popular but there are consequences (similiar again to the movie mean girls), and eventually Rio learns who are her real friends.


The Assassins of Tamurin
The Assassins of Tamurin
Author: S. D. Tower
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 8/17/2007
Helpful Score: 3


This story starts off with the sad life of Lale, an orphan found on the banks of a river in a poor community. Treated abysmally by the village that found her, she finally leaves. It is no surprise that when she is taken in by a woman who grooms her and other orphans into spies and assassins, that Lale becomes very loyal to Makina (aka Mother), the ruler of Tamurin. Lale finds her family with the other girl trainees and works very hard for Mother's approval. Mother has very ambitious plans for Lale: to kill the King. Lale thinks she has no problems obeying, but after meeting and growing closer to him, it becomes harder and harder to go through with it.
I thought this was a very absorbing straight fantasy with strong female characters. And an interesting dilemma for the main character, especially reading about everything Lale experiences. I'd like to read more by this author but I haven't found anything else published by them yet.


The Au Pairs (Au Pairs, Bk 1)
The Au Pairs (Au Pairs, Bk 1)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 26
Review Date: 8/24/2006
Helpful Score: 3


Teen beachy read. Mara - good girl, Eliza - spoiled rich girl, Jaqui - exotic confident girl. Sort of stereotypic story about the Hamptons and au pairing for a rich family. Rather predictable plot - "lessons learned" by each girl, lots of references to people and places in the Hamptons. Fast reading.


Austenland
Austenland
Author: Shannon Hale
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 89
Review Date: 3/15/2009
Helpful Score: 3


This was a fun read. I found it a bit short though, only 194 pages in my copy, which is more of a young adult length, but it was still a good read. Jane is an amusing character - very forthright with her feelings and quite quick on her feet. Some of her dialogue made me laugh. The book was segmented by short paragraphs about boyfriends Jane has had in her life (13 so far), which added to the amusement and explained some of Jane's character. Because her love interests in this book were both actors (a Mr. Nobley who finds her "impertinant" and Martin Jasper, who breaks role and secretly watches basketball with her in his room), we don't see very much about their backstory, except for a bit when Jane uses her journalist friend's connections. I think that adds to the surreal feeling of - is she really doing this? Pretending? And the oddity of a whole household of people pretending to be in the Regency era for a few rich people's amusement. Jane struggles with this throughout the book, but manages to still be herself while in the ridiculous surroundings.

A complaint I see a lot from people when reading this type of book is how cliched it is - repetition of the same stories created by Austen in the modern world, or trying to continue her books in a bad fan-fiction way. I admit, if that's not your thing, you may not like this book, because this had a lot more references to the BBC adaptations than to the actual books. I'm not sure that accuracy is the point though. This is just a fun story, and I think it does point out the value or real life over fantasy. And while Jane she does meet someone who she at first considers rather Darcy-esque, we don't have an as obvious Lizzy/Darcy parallel as in other books. OK there is one, but it's not bad. It was a fresh spin and I enjoyed it.


Avalon High
Avalon High
Author: Meg Cabot
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 55
Review Date: 8/7/2006
Helpful Score: 3


Elaine has just moved to Annapolis while her professor parents are on sabbatical. In the first few days she meets Will while running in the park, and feels an instant connection. Later she notices a lot of similarities between Will and his friends and the story of King Arthur and the knights of the roundtable. Elaine seems to fit in as the reincarnation of the lady of Shallot. This was a very enjoyable contemporary twist to King Arthur; things move very quickly as Elaine has to move fast to find out what is going on and to prevent tragedy. Quite gripping and worth reading. Probably my favorite Meg Cabot book.


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