Michelle’s Paper Garden: Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy


Title: Hemlock Grove
Author: Brian McGreevy
Publisher: FSG Originals
Year: 2012
Type: Paperback
Genre: Horror, paranormal, mystery, werewolf, urban fantasy

Summary:
The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues—though the authorities aren’t sure if it’s a man they should be looking for.

Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family—their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel—where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he’s a werewolf. Or perhaps it’s Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.

At once a riveting mystery and a fascinating revelation of the grotesque and the darkness in us all, Hemlock Grove has the architecture and energy to become a classic in its own right—and Brian McGreevy the talent and ambition to enthrall us for years to come.

[http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12510849-hemlock-grove]

Review

I watched the tv show before I even knew it was a book, so one would assume that I have spoiled the book and all of its mystery, but that’s not completely true. I have only read about 100 pages and so far they are keeping more or less true to the book. However, the book tells us what the characters were thinking, while a televised version could never do that unless you have Sookie Stackhouse around. Their thoughts and even some of the backstory that the show left out are very interesting and give the characters a slightly different feel. For example, in the show, Peter is motivated in his quest to stop the murders by fear of being locked up s everyone suspects him, while in the book he is motivated by not only fear, but also pity.

Anyway, onto the actually book! I haven’t finished it yet, but so far it is pretty good. It isn’t as confusing as the tv show, well at least not yet. Things are given more of an explanation in the book. The author can write very well, which is evident through his character Shelley who is mute but writes beautifully in her emails to her uncle. However, there are some points when he completely loses me and I have to reread the paragraph and figure out what he’s talking about. Some of his wording is awkward and there were a couple of words that I had to look up because I hadn’t the slightest idea what they meant. Also, the dialogue is weird to say the least. I didn’t think it overly realistic.

The constant reference to Peter’s balls was a little awkward for me. I don’t have any, but I am pretty sure they aren’t supposed to be able to sense trouble. They are not supposed to have spidey sense!

So far it’s a good read. I haven’t given up on it yet. We will see what happens.

Michelle’s Paper Garden Presents Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile


Title: Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile
Author: Bill Willingham
Illustrator:Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton, James Jean
Publisher: Vertigo
Year: 2002
Type: Paperback
Number of Pages: 128 pages
Genre: Graphic novel, fantasy, fairy tales, urban fantasy, mystery, folklore

Summary:
When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters have created their own peaceful and secret society within an exclusive luxury apartment building called Fabletown. But when Snow White’s party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Fabletown’s sheriff, a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf (Bigby Wolf), to determine if the killer is Bluebeard, Rose’s ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.

[http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21326.Fables_Vol_1]

Review:
I love fairy tales and mythology. If I could spend all of my time studying and reading mystical magical stories of heroes and monsters, I would be the happiest person in the world. For this and many other reasons, I fell completely in love with Fables. The idea of taking my favourite storybook characters and tossing them into a modern setting was exciting and new (well at least it was when I first read Fables). The characters had to adapt to living in the modern human world, and those who couldn’t were sent to the Farm which is basically made up of talking animals.

I liked Bigby (the humanized Big Bad Wolf turned detective) because he reminded me of those hard drinking, short-tempered detectives from all those old movies my dad used to make me watch. I like that style, so I thought he was cool and the ridiculous lines he has fit that style. His backstory is pretty interesting and the y later explain why he can blow houses down with his breath. The jokes were a little lame, but I like cheesy stuff so I giggled and moved on. Snow White was not what I expected. I figured she would be the annoying, high-pitched damsel from the Disney movie, and instead I got a hardass ice queen. Oh and Prince Charming is a dick, but that’s to be expected seeing as he has married virtually all of the princesses in Fabletown.

The cover art is beautiful! The art beyond that is pretty good, but of a different style.

The actual story is okay and the murder is meh, but I liked the book anyway, mostly because I kept fan girling over characters.

Okay, the only problem I had with this series is that by the fourth volume I had already figured out who the Adversary was. I am not gonna spoil anything for you, but it’s a little obvious.

I give it a 4/5

Michelle’s Paper Garden: The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

Title: The Friday Society
Author: Adrienne Kress
Publisher: Dial
Year: 2012
Type: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 440 pages
Genre: young adult, steampunk, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy

Summary: An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all.

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

[http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5623269-the-friday-society]

Review:

I was really excited about this book when I first came across it on Goodreads. I was so excited that I stopped reading A Clash of King just to read this. I figured it would be League of Extraordinary Gentlemen minus the gentlemen and Batman-esque gadgets. So far, I have none of the above and it makes me very sad.I haven’t even finished this book yet and I don’t think that I will finish it. Firstly, it is supposed to be steampunk. Where is my steampunk?! They sort of mention airships and steamcabs in passing; it doesn’t feel like a steampunk book.

Secondly, I am not a big fan of the main characters. The three main girls were ridiculously beautiful, intelligent, and more than capable of handling things on their own… sort of. Cora falls in love at first glance, Nellie causes men to fall all over her reminding me of Alisha from Misfits, and Michiko is constantly pitying herself. I was hoping for awesome female leads and instead I get them. I am not against flawed characters and anyone who tries to argue against that should take a look at the other books I have reviewed because I am all about tormented antiheroes. These girls felt like young adult cliches.

Thirdly, the dialogue and narration was terrible and I think this is the biggest reason I probably won’t finish it. I really get into books when I read them. I slip out of reality and fall into the world the author has created. The way this author writes bothered me. This was supposed to be a HISTORICAL fiction, but the author uses modern slang like smokin’ hot and crush. It threw me off and pulled me out of the book world. It is making reading this thing a whole lot harder. The modern slang feels wrong so it sort of ruins the book for me.

So in conclusion, I am probably not gonna finish this book.

So far I give it a 2/5.

Nostalgic Tales : Sweet Tooth

Title: Sweet Tooth
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Author: Ian McEwan
Type of Book: Trade Paperback
Pages: 320
Genre: Spy thriller, romance, historial fiction, mystery

So before I start off this will perhaps one of hopefully few books where I am required to have two different ratings. The reason for this is because at the end of it I truly am not sure where my vote lies, or maybe in the end of it all, once I’ve regurgitated my feelings I will look on this book and give it a permanent mark in my mind.

Let’s begin.

Ian McEwan, at the beginning of the description of his novel Sweet Tooth, it was written: In this stunning new novel, Ian McEwan’s first female protagonist since Atonement is about to learn that espionage is the ultimate seduction. – By Goodreads.

I wish I had been more mindful to the words: Ian McEwan’s first female protagonist, merely because ladies I feel this author does us women no justice, this author… presented me with the most pathetic, useless, and frivolous female leads that I have ever come across. Makes me wonder…why write such a character?

Serena Frome a gorgeous, gorgeous girl with long blond hair, big blue eyes and rather big on literature is a floosy. This well-rounded person, has a feminist for a mother who forced her to make more of herself academically, a Bishop for a father whom she does not have a close relationship with, and the wild sister who is the total opposite. Overall she be an okay gal, but once gets to university now that’s when things unravel.

Again in the few 100+ pages she throws herself from one relationship to another all because of her undeniable need to possess all which is not hers. She seeks constant approval for all her deeds and pretty much…opens her legs without even knowing a person long enough, once more all in the act of needing to possess a person. What made me curious is that while you’re reading, all this in her POV she does make it a point to remind us the reader that she does need to be praised and for me while reading that I still had to ask “but you’re a babe! You should be able to make men beg for you!!” later on you do find out why she is like that.

Daddy Issues…plain and simple.

This book, bore me to death, I perhaps had too much hope when I heard it was a spy-thriller, I expected my female lead to be cunning and daring and strong. She was weak, confused, the life she lead and career path (the secret service) was not of her own volition, but she still continued on to make her past-lover content, even though he did end their relationship and left her in a random location. She felt very 16. But then again during the course of everything she may have been only 25-26 by the end of it all.I had to forced myself to get threw it because it was just very me-on-a-rainy-day-lazy. The first 100+ cover her life and time in the agency, her friendship with Shirley who I rather liked a lot and wished more of her was showcased.

There are many historical terms and facts which are thrown about and all the men are pompous, egotistical, machos who think women only need to be around to look at. Anything else, they’re not cut out for it. So it wasn’t until she was assigned her mission to recruit a fellow writer Tom Haley, later on lover to work on behalf of her undercover agency that things looked to be picking up. But Serena was still sucking for me. Even when she had her new lover, that didn’t stop her to be flirty and pompous to her ex-lover, who broke with her and later on it comes to bite her in the ass.

Nevertheless, the flirty-jealousy bit I do not mind, he is one crazy guy.

So that concludes the first rating and review = 1.5/5. I don’t like things to be rushed but I am not riding a camel in a desert either.

The second half of my review, cover chapter 18 (20 if I want be really generous) till the end of the book. This was the highlight of my long suffering, the ending had my jaw open and I could not stop saying “oh damn”. Up until that point I would have never suspected who the real spy was in the end. Serena does not get better, her only brownie point would have been when word of her cover blew up and she silently told her superiors to “screw off”. The only time in her life where she finally decided to do something for herself, which was to stay with Tom—awww romantic gesture, it did nothing to console me nonetheless. And perhaps, it was nice that her long questions of whether or not her older-lover truly loved her or not, was finally answered. She spends a huge amount of time obsessing over it.

Total rating for this section = 4/5, it wasn’t perfect but considering everything I went through it was.

Meli<3

Book Wish List: Strands of Bronze and Gold

Title: Strands of Bronze and Gold
Author: Jane Nickerson
Type of book: Hardcover
Genre: Historical Fiction, fantasy, fairy tale, mystery
Pages: 352

Nothing says trouble more than a young girl, down on her luck with no money, no home and no family suddenly receiving a letter from a man you haven’t seen in years. This particular man invites you to live with him and suddenly you are saved from your desperate situation. Already her circumstances give me grave anxiety, the girl is all alone, just 16 years old and is forced to embrace a world and way of life unlike anything she has experience. Boys and girls if you are hoping for a happy-go-lucky-tale you will not find it here.

She finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her.

This is supposed to be a retelling of the fairy tale Bluebeard and for those of you unfamiliar; it is a tale of a aristocratic man who repels all women because of hideous Bluebeard. Although he has had many wives they all end up disappearing. He eventually gets himself a new wife, but soon leaves her to attend important matters in another country, and before he does he gives his new wife a set of keys which opens many doors. Bluebeard tell her that she may go anywhere those keys allow her to, except the smallest room. It was forbidden and she promises him to be a good wife and not open that room. But like any other heroine, she doesn’t listen and learns the secret of her husband’s strange hobby, as well as the mystery of his past wives. Frightening story I must say, so to have a retelling I can’t help but nibble on my curiosity and wonder what will be different and the same. WILL THERE BE A HAPPY ENDING? . I know I have an addiction so sue me… actually, please don’t, my name has yet to reveal any monetary value teehee

And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world..

Goodness I get chills at that, could he possibly trying to re-create the image of a past love with all these girls with this one repetitive feature? That is such a typical sign of a serial killer based on a lot of Law and Order.

When you are given everything when you use to have nothing what do you do when faced with a terrible secret? I know I would run for the hills, but this 1855 so obviously my solution is a lot less possible. I have heard from other reviewers that this author is rather good and the general public have been pleased. I am hoping to end up having a similar reaction and feel that my hard earn 5$ plum points will be well spent.

-Meli <3

Michelle’s Paper Garden: The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Title: The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1)

Author: Kady Cross

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Year: 2011

Type: Hardcover

Number of pages: 473 pages

Genre: science fiction, steampunk, young adult, historical fiction, mystery

Summary: In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one…except the “thing” inside her.When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no “normal” Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch….

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of “them.” The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help–and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on–even if it seems no one believes her.

[http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9166877-the-girl-in-the-steel-corset]

Review:

I was so excited about a steampunk murder mystery story with a badass heroine that as soon as I got this book for Christmas, I dropped my schoolwork and the other book I was reading to dive into this tale. Then I started reading the thing and it held my attention for the most part. I was a little annoyed with the love at first sight thing because I am so very tired of that idiotic concept. Griffin King, the super rich and handsome hero, accidently runs over Finley Jane, the supposedly badass heroine mentioned above, and just like that they are attracted to one another. Bleh. Oh, and then there is a love triangle that includes a devilishly handsome criminal mastermind who is very obviously a nobleman as he gains and loses his cockney accent. He also falls in love with her very quickly.

To top it all off, there is an almost second love triangle going on between three secondary characters, who are honestly more dynamic and interesting than those mentioned in the previous paragraph. The attraction is more believable and sweet than the instantaneous love experienced by the others.

Enough with the mushy stuff and on to the murder mystery! The mystery is kind of lame. Now, I may have been slightly ruined after reading A Game of Thrones and trying to wrap my head around that complex web of a plot, but the twists in this book were pretty easy to solve. It took one or two clues before I guessed the whole evil plot and before I guessed most of the supposedly shocking twists about the characters, as every single one of them has a twist. Maybe others will find the mystery more challenging, but I thought it could have been concealed a little better.

The actions scenes were interesting. The main characters have powers and these powers make for some really cool fight scenes; they were usually well described fight scenes too that most likely involved at least one murderous automaton. On the topic of automatons, the steampunk theme was well done; it was always present, though sometimes the machines were only mentioned in passing.

Overall, I liked the book. They explained most of the mysteries that popped up throughout the book and for the most part the characters were interesting. The main character was a butt-kicking, abnormally strong girl, which was a nice reprieve. However, now this might just be me, but I think the author could have finished it all up nicely in one book. There is no reason for not one, but two sequels. I will read the sequels because I want to know why she is dragging on the story for another two books, but my expectations are not too high

3.5/5

I’d recommend it, but don’t expect too much. It’s a young adult mystery novel, not Sherlock Holmes, so it may be very easy to figure out.

Words for Dessert: Diary By Chuck Palahniuk

Words for Dessert is my little home for Book Reviews. :)

Diary
Chuck Palahniuk
Anchor, 2004
Trade Paperback
262 Pages
A Genre that can only be described as Palahniuk’s flavor…
Dark Humor/Mystery/Suspense/Contemporary

Misty Wilmot has had it. Once a promising young artist, she’s now stuck on an island ruined by tourism, drinking too much and working as a waitress in a hotel. Her husband, a contractor, is in a coma after a suicide attempt, but that doesn’t stop his clients from threatening Misty with lawsuits over a series of vile messages they’ve found on the walls of houses he remodeled.

Suddenly, though, Misty finds her artistic talent returning as she begins a period of compulsive painting. Inspired but confused by this burst of creativity, she soon finds herself a pawn in a larger conspiracy that threatens to cost hundreds of lives. What unfolds is a dark, hilarious story from America’s most inventive nihilist, and Palahniuk’s most impressive work to date.
GoodReads Summary

I first read this book back in 2005 or 2006 when I was 15 years old, again in 2008, and I recently skimmed through it trying to remember if I enjoyed it or not. While it’s not my favourite, it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

“Can You Feel This?”

I did.

This book with its angst filled existential nihilistic narrator is the one that introduced me to Chuck Palahniuk’s style of storytelling (not Fight Club?! I know…). This was also the first book I chose for myself (and not forced upon in school) outside of the Teen/YA genre (and I’ve had a hard time looking back since).

Diary can be a hard read for new comers to this genre/Palahniuk’s writing… or at least, I found it a little hard but at the same time, it’s still a quick read with only 262 pages. This book stirred quite a bit of an internal struggle for me. There were some points (graphic in gore-y disturbing details and imagery) that made me want to put the book down and take a breather and at the same time push through because I needed to know more. I think that’s just how Palahniuk works though, it’s a little fascinating how his dark tales can affect you.

I was really interested in the art and history aspect of this novel because it was brought into the story in such a strange and kind of freaky way. Misty Wilmot’s struggles and suffering really put me on edge and as the story unravels… well… without revealing anything I can only say, it’s seriously messed up. And I can understand why Palahniuk uses his character’s talent for art and personal struggles to his advantage. Most artists (successful or not) use their darker thoughts and struggles as inspiration for their art as well as an outlet to let go of these demons. It was clever.

The book also has a few moments that caught me off guard leaning forward on the edge of my seat with my mind screaming “WHAT?!”

I smile just thinking about it. Ahh… Good times.

This was the first book that gave me the whole “What the hell did I just read” reaction and I’m quite happy for it. I’d definitely recommend it for someone who wants to step into a new genre. I can’t guarantee that it’ll be everyone’s cup of tea but all the same, still an enjoyable read.

My 15 year old me would have probably rated this book a 5 out of 5. But nowwww…. I think I’d rate it a 4. Why? Well I’m still a squeamish person and some of those visuals I could have lived without haha. Petty… I know.

Have you read this book or any of Chuck Palahniuk’s books/shorts? What did you think?
Any recommendations (of his writing or writing similar to his style/genre) to give me? (Other Palahniuk flavors I’ve read are Fight Club, Choke, Tell-All, and Guts.)

Until Next Time~!
Sam