Friday, June 28, 2013

Etched in Clay

Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet
by Andrea Cheng
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Lee & Low Books (first published October 1st 2012)  
Dave was a lucky slave, at least as much as there could be such a thing. Dave was owned by pottery-makers. The owners quickly learned that Dave had a special talent for making their wares. As the business transitioned from one family member to another, Dave went with the business. His wives and children were sold off, but he was always retained due to his skills. Dave also learned to read and write, which was quite dangerous for a slave to know. He was proud of his accomplishments and began to carve little rhymes and statements or just his autograph into his pieces of pottery despite the threat of losing a finger. Dave's inspiring story is told through poems in his own voice or various others in his life. The author also did the gorgeous woodcuts that add to the mood of the book. 


by C. K. Kelly Martin
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers 
I really wanted to give this four stars, but I couldn't for one big reason. The information dump towards the end when she visited the hypnotist. I like to learn about new worlds and governments throughout the story. Sprinkled throughout the beginning were a few hints, but then all of a sudden she is relating everything from before the attempted mind wipe and clear. It was interesting but just way too much all at once. The end was good though. I like that it was self-contained, no need for a sequel - though it seems like there always is even when not necessary.
The language was a little too much for a young adult book. I know I have said it a million times, but I will say it again: It really bothers me that there are ratings and language restrictions in movies, but in books it doesn't matter. I don't enjoy reading about teens who frequently drop the f-bomb. It just really disrupts the flow of the story for me and really flaws the character. I don't expect all characters to be completely clean of language, but sometimes it is a little excessive. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Curiosities

The Curiosities
A Collection of Stories
by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Lerner Publishing Group 
Summary from
  From acclaimed YA authors Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff comes The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories.

- A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.
- Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.
- A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream).

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction.

But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie, Tessa, and Brenna have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing—all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author's comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors.

So, are you curious now?
I was intrigued by this collection solely because Maggie Stiefvater was involved. I have absolutely loved everything of hers that I have read. I was completely unfamiliar with the other two contributing authors. I will admit right off that I read every single one of Maggie's stories, and quite liked all of them in their diversity. However, I only read a few of the others. Some were okay and others not so much. I understand the origins of this collection and it is fairly unique. Yet I was quite bothered by the notes and commentaries "handwritten" in the margins. The comments before each story were okay but the other little notes I just found annoying. I probably would have liked it a little more if it weren't for that factor. It was just too cutesy for me and detracted from the impact of the stories.  

I realize this was an "experiment" of sorts, but I would have preferred the stories on their own.