Book Review – The Ice Dragon

TITLE: The Ice Dragon
AUTHOR: George R R Martin
FORMAT: Hardback
ILLUSTRATIONS: Luis Royo
PUBLISHED: 2014 (this edition – story originally 1980)

 

I picked The Ice Dragon up at a bookstore because it was cheap and also short.  I estimated it to be a novelette.  I love GRRM’s stories, but I’m not always a fan of his writing style.  In fact, the last thing of his I read I found incredibly boring.  But I quite enjoyed Fevre Dream in graphic form and Game of Thrones on the screen.  So I wanted to give him another shot.

Four dollars later, this was mine.

As far as I knew, I was reading a short story that he did, and I was a little surprised to see it in chapter form, but not totally.

The story follows Adara, who is different and also the reason her mother died in childbirth.  While her father adores her siblings, she gets left to mostly her own devices, and ends up befriending an Ice Dragon, which nobody does.

I liked the story.  It was written more simply than his normal stuff, which means I wasn’t bogged down by unnecessary words and overly-long descriptions.  I found out later that the reason was that it’s actually a children’s book (Note: the bookstore hadn’t specified that.  I found it on the internet when I tried to look up word count)

So I guess the key here is that GRRM needs to write for Children for me to want to read it.

Still, the ending was annoying to me.  It was predictable and went in exactly the opposite direction from where I wanted it to go.

So a rating.  Whatever genre you want it to be, it was a nice story up until the very end.  I’ll give it a healthy 3/5.  Go ahead and give yourself a bit to read it, but don’t expect the most amazing story ever.

 

 

 

Book Review – Z was Zapped

TITLE: The alphabet theatre proudly presents the Z was zapped : a play in twenty-six acts
AUTHOR & Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHED: 1987

I was talking to a friend of mine about a movie and discovered it was a children’s book first, so I looked the author up and came up with a whole list of titles. But this one is so far my favorite.
In fact, it’s my favorite because the thing reminds me a little of Edward Gorey, except with letters instead of people, which makes it a little more friendly for the masses. In each case, something happens to a letter of the alphabet. Really, there’s not much to say about this one. I hope it’s not too much a spoiler (it should be obvious!) that Z, for instance, gets Zapped.

My only issue with the book is the layout. On the right hand side of the page, we have the illustrations – black and white by the author himself. On the left, we have the text. But in this case, the illustration leads, so when you’re looking at a page that tells you what happens to P, the illustration is showing what happens to Q. When it’s telling you that B is badly bitten, you’re looking at the picture of C being Cut to Ribbons. I wish you were reading and seeing the same letter, you know?

In all, I think it’s awesome. I tried to read it to the baby and he even liked it (he’s seven months old).
If it weren’t for the layout issue, I’d give it a five. Alas.

4/5 pages.

Book Review – Warm Bodies… by Isaac Marion

Title: Warm Bodies

Author: Isaac Marion

Format: Paperback

Published/Written: 2011

Despite having already reviewed one book that has had a recent movie come out for it… I will say that it is not too often that I decide to pick up a book because a movie of it is coming out.  Yet, this was the case with Warm Bodies.  I fell in love with the story line from the first preview I saw in theaters.  I always thought it would be interesting to do a Zombie love story… I was excited to see  someone had done it even if it was just a film… I later discovered that the movie was based off a novel and I got even more excited… I knew I needed to pick up the book even if there was a forever long waiting list for it at the library…

When I sat down to crack the book open… I was surprised by how the story was conveyed.  One would not think that a zombie would make a good narrator for a first person perspective novel… but Isaac accomplishes a very realistic voice that is quite compelling and has a rather strong vocabulary.  (It enthralled me to read words that I hardly see in type let alone hear spoken.)  I know it seems bizarre for a zombie to be able to tell his story in such a way… but it works considering that the life of “R” before he became a zombie indicates that he was a well-educated man.

For me… the story gripped me right away and this book is what I would call something of an escapist book… every time I picked it up… I was lost to the world around me and entered into the post-apocalyptic America where zombies rule the world and the living are few and far between.  The root cause of this happenstance is uncertain… but not really important.  The focus isn’t so much on the how and why but on “R” as he deals with the issues of being a zombie and protecting Julie the girl he meets… after killing her boyfriend.  If you have seen the previews… you know the general plot of the story, thus I don’t feel it would be a spoiler to mention how the gradual change of “R” was masterfully done as it was so subtle… and quite powerful at times.

Over all… I found the book to be very well written… Isaac is a master of short syllabic dialogue, communicating a lot through short conversations and prose.  On the whole… I loved this book, despite knowing most of what would happen based on the movie previews… I was surprised by the twists and turns the journey took to reach the end… I do have a few complaints about the book though.  In the book there are two different narrators, the first of course being “R”… and then a second additional one.  My problem wasn’t with the second perspective, as it gave a lot of depth to the story… the problem was that it was hard at times to realize the switch right away… it didn’t take me too long to discover the change but… it was enough that I had to go back and reread some.  I also took issue with there being a shortage of dialogue tags… most of the time it was fine… considering the brevity of the dialogue but there were a few occasions where I would have to sort of count to see who said what.  This would have been more problematic if the speech patterns between some characters weren’t vastly different from one another…  it did become an issue on occasion though. With that said… I am still going to give this book a 4 page rating…it is not too often that I find a book that I can’t really put down and can finish in about two days.  So… if you are looking for something unique, or are into zombies… this book is a must read… for those not so into zombies… you might still want to give it a try… but I won’t blame you if zombies aren’t your thing…

Book Review – Wonderland Alphabet by Alethea Kontis [and a double Alpha Oops Halloween BONUS!]

Title: The Wonderland Alphabet
Author: Alethea Kontis
Illustrator: Janet K. Lee
Format: Board Book
Written: 2012
Published: 2012

In the theme of Alice in Wonderland, Alethea Kontis has brought us the most adorable alphabet poem ever.  Janet K Lee’s  illustrations are amazing.  And the layout is incredible.  And there’s nothing about this I don’t like (except, maybe that our alphabet only has 26 letters…perhaps she could redo this with the Khmer alphabet, which is 74 letters long?) Have I gushed enough?

From thieves that run off with parts of letters to grins without cats and playing cards willing to deal the queen’s punishments (see what I did there?), there is nothing about this book that I dislike.  The colors are perfect, the artwork is gorgeous, and the rhyme has no sign of that sickening cutesy that children’s books so often suffer from.  In fact, I think this is truely a book designed for an adult to *want* to read to their children.  Or their cats, cause, you know, I don’t have kids.

I checked it out at the store and did something I don’t often do – bought it at its full cover retail price.  For me.

So the down-low on this book?  Buy it.  Find somewhere that you can display it.  Revisit it once in a while.  Love it, cherish it, share it.  This book would also make a great gift – for a new baby or an Alice fan, or someone who you want to remind to never grow up too fast.

In case you haven’t figured out by now, Five out of Five Pages.

Since it’s Halloween this week, I wanted to give y’all a little bit of an extra treat. (Also, I don’t want my blog toilet papered.)  Reviews of Alethea’s other children’s books!

Title: AlphaOops – The Day That Z Went First
Author: Alethea Kontis
Illustrator: Bob Kolar
Format: Hardcover
Written: 2006
Published: 2006

Title: AlphaOops – H is for Halloween
Author: Alethea Kontis
Illustrator: Bob Kolar
Format: Hardcover
Written: 2010
Published: 2010

I’ve known about these books for a while now, and it took me a bit to finally get around to looking into them.  I got H is for Halloween off a used book site, and it promptly became the book that sits on my hearth to round out my Halloween decorations this year.  They’re just that awesome.

In “The Day Z Went First” Z is tired of being stuck 26th in line and wants his turn at leading the parade.  The letters quickly decide that Z has a point, and A steps aside and lets them go backwards – Z Y X W P… um, P?  Yeah, so the rest of the letters get a little upset too, because, well, the letters in the middle are going to always be in the middle, and what if you don’t want to be next to the same letter all the time (or, even worse, what if you do and they won’t cooperate!?). H refuses to go anywhere other than where she should be.  Z starts getting testy, because really, all he wants is the alphabet to be over and with everyone all over the place, nothing’s getting done.  Then some of the letters decide they should stand for more than one thing, V tries for a second turn… One of the letters even gets stuck in the bathroom and has to be tacked on just before A, who steals the show in a most amazing way (see what I did there?!).

In “H is for Halloween” the same sort of chaos ensues.  It’s time to start the alphabet, but A isn’t ready, so they push H out in front because H has top billing.  The best thing about this book is that it’s not your typical letters and words.  In fact, there’s actually a page where J can’t always be a Jack-o-lantern.  While everything is going relatively smoothly at first, there’s a bit of a problem – you see, after K is for Kracken and P is for Pirate…  poor B has to change his costume because he’s dressed as a Buccaneer.     After Y is a Yeti, B has to give up on Bigfoot.  And what about X, who can’t be hardly anything?  (Serendipity! S has an idea!)

There are so many things I want to say about these books, but I don’t want to give everything away.  I like that this is a book about whether or not you can think outside the box instead of following the established order of things.  I mean does it really matter if G and H stick together or not if all 26 letters still make their appearances?

I think these books are great, and I really hope that she eventually makes her way through the whole series.

I’m giving both of them five out of five pages.

***

*****

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