Emily the Strange: The Lost Days

Emily the Strange The Lost Daysby Rob Reger and Jessica Gruner
Illustrated by Rob Reger and Buzz Parker

I’m not even sure how to go about describing this one.  I couldn’t even figure out how to tag it so I just tagged it “Emily the Strange” because there really is no way to categorize her.

Let me begin with some quotes:

13 elements you will find in the first Emily the Strange novel:

  1. Mystery
  2. A beautiful golem
  3. Souped-up slingshots
  4. Four black cats
  5. Amnesia
  6. Calamity Poker
  7. Angry ponies
  8. A shady truant officer
  9. Top-13 lists
  10. A sandstorm generator
  11. Dopplegangers
  12. A secret mission
  13. Earwigs

(front flap)

Emily finds herself in a mysterious town called Blackrock, which has no rocks of any sort around it, with no memories of who she is, where she comes from, or why she’s in Blackrock.  It becomes very clear early on that Emily is not actually from Blackrock so she sets out to solve the mystery of herself.  Hilarious antics ensue.

From the beginning:

I think I better take notes, cuz something super strange is happening to me, and I don’t know

  1. my name
  2. anyone else’s name
  3. where I am
  4. how I got here
  5. where I live
  6. how old I am (am I a kid or just short?)
  7. anything I’ve done since I was born
  8. whether I’m a cat person or dog person
  9. whether I actually believe people are cat people or dog people
  10. what might have been written on the eleven pages that were torn out of this book
  11. why this happened to me
  12. how long it’s going to last, or
  13. what I should do next

Here’s what I DO know:

  1. I’m human.
  2. I’m a girl.
  3. I’m wearing a black dress.
  4. I’m wearing black stockings.
  5. I have long black hair.
  6. I seem to like the color black.
  7. I recently stepped in gum.
  8. My skin is pale, so the bruises on my left arm show up really well.
  9. I have a notebook, a pencil, and a slingshot, and that’s it.
  10. I’m left-handed.
  11. I speak English.
  12. The Earth is round and travels around the sun.
  13. I seem to like the number 13.

(pgs 13-14, really 1-2)

If any of this sounds at all funny or interesting, you owe it to yourself to check out Emily the Strange or at least go to Amazon and “Look Inside”.

I found Emily hilarious.  The format is more of an illustrated novel, lots of pictures throughout, which would definitely appeal to reluctant readers.  The middle gets a bit slow and some things maybe could have been cut, but Emily just cracked me up.  She worked for my sense of humor.  I’ve ordered a few of her graphic novels to tide me over until her next novel, Emily the Strange: Stranger and Stranger, comes out, which is I’m not sure when.

Library Loot: June 24-30

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

This week’s books include:

I also rechecked out:

  • Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
  • Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis (I have a thing with this book.  I’ve checked it out a ton of times, have never read it but can’t possibly bear to part with it because I do want to read it.  Maybe it’s time I just buy the darn thing to read when I’m ready.)
  • Distant Waves: a novel of the Titanic by Suzanne Weyn

I currently have 71 items checked out (time for another clean out) and 8 items on hold.

Shine, Coconut Moon

Shine Coconut Moonby Neesha Meminger

The only family Samar, who goes by Sam or Sammy, has ever known is her mother.  It’s Samar and her mother against the world and, for the most part, that’s been enough.  Sure, Sammy sometimes gets jealous of her best friend Molly’s huge Irish family but they so often include her in their family’s activities that she almost feels like she’s one of them.  Sam’s feelings about family and about her history change with the sudden arrival of her long estranged uncle, Uncle Sandeep.  Uncle Sandeep arrives on her porch not long after 9/11 looking to reconnect with his sister and niece.  Uncle Sandeep is warm, kind, and funny, and Sam loves spending time with him.  The more time she spends with him, the more she wants to know about the parts of her heritage and her relatives that her mother has kept secret.  Sam goes on a personal quest to figure out who she is and where she comes from.

Reaction: I really, really enjoyed this one.  I sat down and read it in less than a day.  I thought Sam was a very believable and realistic teenage girl who just so happens to be going through a huge identity crisis.  I loved how Sam could switch between worrying about something as superficial as what clothes she was going to wear out to worrying about something as deep as her heritage, religion, and family roots.  I also loved how Sam tended to vilify her mother, suddenly going from completely trusting her mother’s decisions to blaming her and accusing her of wrongful neglect by keeping Sam from her extended family.  I thought this was another very teenage thing to do, to only see the situation as black and white, one person as right or wrong.  Sam eventually saw the shades of gray and began to understand her mother’s choices.  I also really liked how Sam was able to teach her mother something about forgiveness and perspective.

At times I thought the dialogue sounded a bit unnatural, a few times the writing seemed a bit forced, and I found some of the many similes a bit out of place, some jarred me out of the story, but none of these little things really mattered in the end.  As the story got rolling, I felt as though Meminger hit her stride and I just got completely sucked into Sam’s life.

One last thing that I loved.  Meminger mentions websites that Sam uses to learn about Sikhism.  I was wondering if they were real so I searched for pretty much all of them.  I found all but one and I’m sure that one was probably active at the time Meminger wrote the book.  On one of the sites, sepiamutiny.com, I found this post which I thought fit in nicely with one of the issues raised in the book.  If you watch the video you’ll have to read the book to see how it ties in.

Thanks: To The Happy Nappy Bookseller for her review that made me want to read the book.

Once Dead, Twice Shy

Once Dead Twice Shyby Kim Harrison

Madison Avery is dead but no one knows it.  On the night of her prom she was killed by a celestial being, a dark reaper, but somehow managed to snag his amulet and give her ghost self a corporeal form.  Now she is being guarded and taught by a light reaper named Barnabas.  Avery is a bit of an anomaly, even in the strange new world of which she is now apart, and Avery and those who are trying to save her must figure out what she is and her role in her new ghosty life before the dark forces find her once again and try to get rid of her once and for all.

Reaction: Wow, it was hard to write an understandable plot synopsis for this one.  Avery’s world is complicated.  There are light reapers and dark reapers.  Dark reapers decide to take the lives of people before their natural death time in order to stop something it is predicted the person will do in the future that the dark reapers don’t want to see happen.  Light reapers try to stop the dark reapers from prematurely ending a life.  Light reapers and dark repears are angels of sorts and are sent on their various missions by two timekeepers, one dark and one light, who used to be human and are not immortal.  A dark reaper was sent to and did kill Avery but somehow after she was dead she got a hold of the amulet of the dark reaper who slayed her and this gave her special ghosty powers, like a body even though it isn’t actually her body because the dark reaper stole her real body.  The story is about what Avery is supposed to do now, who is after her and why, and what her future as a dead girl holds.

These are the basics of this complicated story but it felt like basics are all we really get.  The story is more of an outline or unfinished, undeveloped full story.  Details are not explained or not explained very well.  I wanted to know more about Avery’s hinted to past — the whole story behind why she now lives with her dad.  I wanted more background on the light and dark reapers — what they were exactly, where they really came from, how they were assigned — and the timekeepers — how are they chosen, what are all of their jobs, powers, and functions.  And then there was Avery and Josh.  They had an odd history.  I wanted to know why Josh agreed to ask Avery to prom, I wanted to know why Avery said yes in the first place since they seem so different, and I wanted to know who Josh’s real friends were since he was so nice and his friends were such jerks.

Overall, I’m interested to see where this series* goes because it’s a unique and interesting premise but I just hope that there is a lot more development and explanation in the next book otherwise I don’t see this series going very far.

The cover, though.  The cover’s awesome.

*I’m assuming this is a series.  Her other books are a series and this one is very open ended.  I couldn’t find any information on other books but I didn’t dig too hard.  I guess we’ll see.

Library Loot: June 17-23

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Here’s what I checked out this week:

I currently have 65 items checked out and 9 items on hold.

My wonderful library system is in jeopardy as is every public library in the state of Ohio.  Check out Save Ohio Libraries and Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Save Our Library page for more information.

The Season

Seasonby Sarah MacLean

Lady Alexandra, or Alex for short, is destined to have her first London season, to see and be seen, and to catch an eligible and wealthy husband.  Unfortunately, Alex is not interested in the least in having a season or a husband.  Alex is independent-minded, strong-willed, and not afraid to say what she thinks — nothing any suitable bachelor is looking for.  She is sure the season will be a complete waste of time, that is until she stumbles upon a bit of a mystery.  The father of her longtime friend Gavin, now Earl of Blackmoor, died recently when he fell from his horse while riding at his country estate.  Despite the fact that his death looked very much like an accident, Gavin can’t seem to shake the feeling that there might have been something more sinister behind it.  Gavin is constantly on the lookout for clues that might lead to the truth behind his father’s death.  Alex and her friends Ella and Vivi begin their own search for clues after Alex overhears a conversation between two mysterious and dangerous-sounding men.  As both Alex and Gavin search for answers and as the season launches into full swing, Alex and Gavin begin to see each other in a new light.  Will Alex have found herself a husband after all?

Reaction: From the reviews I had read (and my summary even kind of makes it sound like this), I thought there was going to be more of a mystery element.  Really, the mystery was very secondary and pretty easy to figure out, but that’s ok because it served very nicely as a foil between Alex and Gavin — a way to connect them but also to keep them apart.  The center of the story, if you hadn’t guessed already, is the growing relationship between Alex and Gavin, and it was done very well.  I often gripe about how quickly characters fall for one another and the lack of development between romantic characters but I have no complaints in that regard here.  The whole story was crafted in a way that allowed these two characters, friends since childhood, to realize their feelings for one another had grown into something more, something special.  My only (very minor) complaint would be that I felt there may have been one too many times when Alex and Gavin waffled between their feelings or what to do about their feelings.  In the overall scheme of things, this complaint doesn’t even really register.  The Season was a fun and very well done historical romance.

The End of Bloggiesta

bloggiestaI have completed what I can for the Bloggiesta.  Here’s what I accomplished:

Total Time: 8 hrs 30 mins (30 mins longer than my goal, yeah!
Bloggy Stuff:

  • Set up and organized my Google Reader
  • Completed review and scheduled post for The Season by Sarah MacLean
  • Completed review and scheduled post for Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
  • Completed review and scheduled post for Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger
  • Completed review for Emily the Strange: The Lost Day by Rob Reger
  • Wrote 3/4 of a review for Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees
  • Participated in the Grade Your Blog minichallenge hosted by Bookish Ruth.

I also spent a lot of time on Twitter, updating my progress, learning about other people’s progress, and finding new blogs.  I commented on several blogs and added a few to my feed reader.

I am very happy with my progress.  I was able to complete almost all of the reviews I wanted to and have a good start on the one I didn’t review.  I didn’t complete my Katsa vs. Katniss post idea but it’s been waiting since last September, it can wait a bit more and will probably be more timely closer to the new book releases anyway.

I had a wonderful time participating in the Bloggiesta and look forward to future Bloggiestas!