The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

***I'm playing catch-up in a major way these days, so these reviews will be shorter than normal. Don't hold it against me. I am still only reviewing books I enjoyed - so the length of the review does not reflect my enjoyment level, just my memory and abhorrence for spoilers.)***

So I already knew I was going to like this, based purely on it being by the same man who brought us Coraline. Here's the premise: the book opens with the murder of the family of Nobody Owens, who manages to escape his crib and house and toddle up the street to the cemetery. Once inside the gates, the occupants of the cemetery (Ghosts and a corporeal guardian) decide to adopt and raise him. This is literally the coming-of-age story of a boy raised by ghosts. It's fascinating. There is sadness and suspense and a thrilling climax, but the overwhelming story is of this boys maturation. It's dark and witty and wise with the perfect amount of creepiness thrown in. A good October Book, I think.

From the NYT book review:

"The Graveyard Book, by turns exciting and witty, sinister and tender, shows Gaiman at the top of his form. In this novel of wonder, Neil Gaiman follows in the footsteps of long-ago storytellers, weaving a tale of unforgettable enchantment."

I agree with that last part. It's been months since I read it and I still find myself musing over bits of it. Well worth the read, I feel.



Queen of the Dead by Stacy Kade

***I'm playing catch-up in a major way these days, so these reviews will be shorter than normal. Don't hold it against me. I am still only reviewing books I enjoyed - so the length of the review does not reflect my enjoyment level, just my memory and abhorrence for spoilers.)

This is book two in the Ghost and The Goth series and I loved it. These two have great (if reluctant) chemistry and there is plenty of it in this book. Without giving away too much, let's just say that another girl is thrown into the mix and she holds information into Will's past and abilities. There is much peril, suspense, some hauntings, some exorcisms, and some good old-fashioned banter. The third book is out May 1st, if you're a fan of Alona and Will (or you're looking for some good beach reading) pick up this one and then that one (but start with The Ghost and the Goth if you're new to the series.)


Bossypants by Tina Fey

So, basically, Tina Fey sat down and wrote a book about her life. Hilarity ensues. (Full disclosure: I listened to the audiobook. I have found that the best vehicles for memoirs are the authors reading their own words. I feel like I get more from it.)

I labeled this as "edutainment" because it is full of life lessons, and if I were starting out in the world I would turn to it as inspiration for not letting presumptions about my gender keep me from succeeding. After all, if not for her persistence, SNL would NEVER have aired the hilarious Kotex Classic commercial.

She covers everything from her scar (questions about which say more about that asker than they do about her) to what it's like to say, in front of your father whom you admire so much, that your wonky little show has been picked up for a full season. Her prayer for her daughter is poignant and hilarious and true, and the images she includes for our viewing pleasure are honest and relatable.

This is one of those books that I'm telling all the ladies in my life to read, and if I had the funds, I would just buy everyone copies. (If you're a person who spends a lot of time in your car, get the audio. Trust me. But beware: at time I was laughing so hard I cried. That could be problematic.)



The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

So I was really reluctant to read these bad boys. I'm still not sure why I held off, but let me tell you that I'm a little glad I did - the first book will be fresh in my mind when it hits the theater. Because I will be seeing it in the theater. (I hope.)

I finished The Hunger Games in a day.
I finished Catching Fire in a day.
I finished Mockingjay in two.

This is not an easy task when your two-year-old wants to read what Mommy is reading. And trust me - I did not read these out loud to him. At any part.

What I did do was inhale them. And cry, several times. Not at the deaths - most of those happen off-screen, although there was one that I bawled through - but at the other moments. The moments that made Katniss and her fellow Tributes (those who are sent to the Games in order to fight to the death) seem like human beings. Not even that - Collins masterfully reminded us that these are children being sent to battle to their deaths. Children who have been forced (through war, a truly oppressive government, and circumstance) to grow up entirely too quickly and who have too much responsibility on their shoulders.

Hunger Games is a page-turner. Collins level of suspense is up there in the circles of the legends, and her restraint is just enough so that those of us suffering from constant morning sickness didn't need to put the book in the freezer. It ends with the perfect wrap-up/set-up. I honestly believe you could put the book down, smile at yourself for a nicely wrapped story, and go on your way.

But if you did that you would miss out on Catching Fire, which picks up a few months later and is chock full of tension and exposition and suspense. I have heard that it is not as good as the first, but I'm going to go on record and say that is true in the way that The Two Towers was not as good as The Fellowship of the Ring. It is the middle book of a trilogy - there to arc you from book one to book two. This one has the added bonus of a great story and it leads very nicely into Mockingjay.

Mockingjay wraps it up. It even has a nice epilogue at the end of the Harry Potter twenty-years-later variety. I was told that it felt forced, but I didn't see it. I did see a bit of Collins reminding herself that she needs to go out as strongly as she came in - and I feel that she succeeded. There is action and exposition and maturation...it's delicious.

To summarize: read these. They are awesome.

PS: I totally want this song to appear in the movie somehow:

and this one (but maybe a later movie?)

****spoilerish: there's a really great love triangle. It makes the Bella/Edward/Jacob triangle look ridiculous. It's resolved really well, too. Meyer could take a few lessons. Many, many, many lessons.****
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