Booknotized

A place to think, reflect, and talk (mostly to myself) about books I love…and a few that I don't.

Calling All Cassandra Clare Fans –> Clockwork Prince #Giveaway! November 23, 2011

 
 

At BEA this past May, I accidentally got into a line for a very special set of items.

I didn’t realize until after I just what I had stumbled upon:

 

Instead of keeping them to myself (which wouldn’t be very nice!), I’d like to share the love.

Clockwork Prince – vol. 2 of Cassandra Clare’s much-anticipated Infernal Devices series – is out in just two weeks!

 

I know that some of you are just itching to read chatpers 1-3 ahead of the game…
and to proclaim your affection by sporting this collector’s t-shirt.

(You know who you are!)



 
 

Priority mail shipping on this to any state in the USA (sorry, no international), so you’ll be sure to have it right away.

Here’s how it works:

1. Like Booknotized on Facebook = 1 point
2. Follow Booknotized on Twitter = 1 point
3. Tweet about it (be sure to tweet @Booknotized) = 1 point for every tweet
4. Share Booknotized or this giveaway on Facebook = 1 point for every share
4. Subscribe to Booknotized via email (see right sidebar) = 1 point
5. Find a book review on this site that you enjoy and leave a thoughtful comment = 1 point for every comment
6. Leave a comment on this post = 1 point

 

Tally up of your points and email them to me along with your twitter/facebook handles so I can track your points.

 

booknotized[at]gmail.com

 

Ends at noon on Monday the 28th.

 

I’ll announce the winner via Twitter that evening and contact them via email.

 

Have fun!

 

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Series Review: Incarceron / Sapphique by Catherin Fisher November 4, 2011

Publisher: Dial
Release Date: January 26, 2010; December 28, 2010
Age Group: YA (utterly gratuitous mature language; mild graphic violence)
Pages: 448; 480
Rating: Idea 5★; Execution 2★
Genre: dystopia, sci-fi, & (some) fantasy with overtones of steampunk
 

★★1/2

Claudia lives in The Realm—a place where an Era of Victorianesque habit and aesthetic is enforced by a malevolent monarchy. She dreams only of escape from the life that has been planned for her. Her only solace is her tutor, Jared, who has been more of a father to her than her own morose parent, John Arlexa the Warden of Incarceron. At least she is Outside.

Inside, Finn lives, and has lived for the three long years of his life that he is able to remember. He, too, longs to Escape from the miserable existence within the great sentient, malevolent Prison to which he—and all others deemed undesirable or superfluous by the aristocracy—have been sentenced.

All too quickly, as age-old plots and schemes come to fruition, Finn and Claudia’s fates are thrust together. The future of both worlds, it seems, depends on their ability to unlock the secrets that lie deep within.
 

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As I tweeted the other night, I have rarely been as frustrated or disillusioned by a book or series as I was when I closed the cover on this one.

The idea is magnificent—something like The Matrix, something like The Scarlet Pimpernel, and still something like Mad Max and Blade Runner.

However, the idea’s execution in writing was deplorable, cheap, and utterly unsatisfying. You know how it was with Lost? Where the opening was fairly explosive and mysterious, but as the seasons dragged on it slowly became apparent that the writers had no long-term plan for the plot? No real ingenious answer to the mystery?

And everyone remained hopeful, despite being dragged on for eons by endlessly convenient twists, turns, and dramatic fluff, because they thought there surely would be some masterfully big reveal to tie it all together in the end?

★★1/2

Well, that was exactly my experience with these books, except without the hunky actors and special effects to tide a girl over. Full of fluff; unartful writing; and bad, see-through dialogue; impromptu/incongruous twists when the plot looked sure to dead-end; flat characters who neither were fully explained nor grew a millimeter over the course of 928 pages, and were often self-contradictory…

And, then, like the Lost finale, no questions answered. If anything, more were introduced, as if to cover the tracks of an MIA direction—yet again.
 
I am almost angry at myself for reading it. I knew at the end of Incarceron (bk. 1) that the execution was shoddy (I even tweeted my feelings), but was so curious about how the idea would come together that I convinced myself to keep going. I remained hopeful to the very end—past elements that didn’t really work in the world (the “Incarceron” beast; the “chain gang,” children born—as opposed to healed or reconstructed—with metal parts), or with the characters (Keiro’s fickleness; the Queen’s pseudo-evilness; the Warden’s loss of the key vs. the trio’s ability to keep the glove; the Prison’s simultaneous omnipotence and impotence, whichever suited the moment; etc), but were instead just convenient to the goose-chase of a plot.

I even clung on through the last few pages when things got really weird, and it seemed impossible that it could ever be satisfactorily pulled together, all the while thinking, Surely; surely no one would have published an idea this ambitious without a real, clever, mind-blowing ending.

This book has gotten lots of buzz. Taylor Lautner is starring in the movie, for goodness sake. Surely they wouldn’t…

But they did.

 
I think—if someone figures out how to salvage the plot/ending—it will be a truly wicked movie. But, as a book?

There are so many good, strong, dystopian/steampunk novels out there—The Hunger Games (bk 1), Birthmarked, Fever Crumb, etc. I would normally never do this—I am a book champion—but I suggest spending your reading time on the above and waiting to see Incarceron on screen.

 

Steampunk Dream Home August 19, 2011

Filed under: Steampunk — Booknotized @ 11:10 am
Tags: , , ,

 

It’s for sale. Only $1.75 million.

 

*shakes piggy bank.*

*jingling ensues*

 

 

I’d like to imagine this is something like the inside of the Leviathan. Or, maybe Godshawk’s head

 

 

(Click photos for link to original Yahoo article. And here to see a slideshow by the WSJ.)

 

 

…or maybe just my summer home…
 

 

According to the original Yahoo article, “The bathroom is divided into two sections accessed by a pulley.”

 

Click here for photos of a costume party held in the apartment.

 

$$$ Click HERE to BUY. $$$

 

Book Review: The Art of Steampunk by Art Donovan June 27, 2011

Filed under: Books,Nonfiction,Steampunk — Booknotized @ 3:43 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Release Date: August 1, 2011
Publisher: Fox Chapel

★★★★

I received a copy of this book as a courtesy from the team at Fox Chapel after running into them at BEA2011 this past month in my professional capacity. I’m not sure they knew I was also a book blogger, but this one was too exciting not to talk about.

A fan of steampunk literature, I was immediately intrigued by the content. So used to building the worlds in my head, coupled together from snippets I’ve seen of Victorian technology and fashion, tidbits of old Jules Verne and the more recent Wild Wild West (1999) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) films, I was psyched about seeing some of the world come to real, hard life. After all, imagination has its limits. What better way to flesh it out than with photographs?

And, in The Art of Steampunk, the steampunk world really does take full form. Inside are well over 100 full color photos of some of the most intricate and finely crafted oddities you’ll ever see. From Eric Freitas’ exquisite and ethereal clocks, to Kris Kuksi’s detailed warships—oh, and don’t miss Richard Nagy’s fully-functioning brass, leather, and copper laptops—the 17 artists showcased here have really populated the world of idea with extraordinary reality. Their pieces, all exhibited at Oxford University’s Museum of the History of Science 2009-10 Steampunk show (curator, Art Donovan), will make you catch your breath. The intricate delicacy, brassy trim work, and tongue-in-cheek aplomb continually snagged me between the urgent desire to linger and the giddy itch to flip to the next discovery. Truly, whether chuckling or scrutinizing, you can’t help but marvel at the all-around genius of their painstaking handiwork.

The only flaw I saw in the book was its overemphasis on preserving the details of the Oxford exhibition, which I fear may give shelf-browsers the impression that it’s more a commemorative booklet of the event than a printed showcase of the art. However, as redundant as the forward, introduction, and introductory essay become by page 33, the front matter does contain some truly enlightening information about steampunk subculture and its art that explicate in enough detail to enlighten both newcomers and die-hard fans alike.

Verdict? A must for the avid steampunker.

 

Book Review: Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve June 20, 2011

Original Release Date: May 4, 2009
Publisher: Scholastic

★★★★

Natural disasters, civilization-searing wars, a tumult of regime changes, and a host of other catastrophes have resulted in the loss of much of mankind’s technical knowledge. With glaciers slowly moving south, what was once Great Britain is now a host of nomadic tribes, subsisting on plunder as they move from place to place in land barges coupled together from recycled machines of the past.

The people of London (perhaps the greatest remnant of what once was), however, have managed to recreate something of the old world. Salvaging, studying, sometimes reinvigorating, but never reproducing the ancient technologies that lie beneath their streets – computers, engines, ‘lectric lamps, scraps of plastics – they are entirely post-pre-industrial. In the midst of it all, lives young Fever, an orphan (or so she’s told). Brought up by the very rational old engineer, Dr. Crumb, beautiful young Fever shaves her head (hair is non-necessary), spurns emotion, and is always, always reasonable – whatever the situation. After all, it is up to her to prove to the stoic Order of Engineers that female minds are capable of rational thought.

But, when archaeologist Kit Solent appears, requesting her help (an honor she accepts with what a non-rational mind might call “excitement”), more than petty emotions are dredged up: Fever begins to recall an entire existence that she knows is not her own – one filled with grisly experiments; a strangely beautiful, oddly familiar face; perfumes; genetic anomalies; and scenes from London’s most recent regime change, the bloody Skinner riots. Before she knows it, Fever is herself branded a traitor in a battle of old against new, humans and Skinners vs. genetically anomalous Scriven (self-dubbed “homo superior”), and must work to unlock the secrets lodged inside her head – or risk losing herself entirely to someone else’s design.
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In keeping with the style of his Carnegie Medal-winning Here Lies Arthur, Reeve delivers a strikingly dark and different, yet enveloping and fully realized world in this prequel to his Mortal Engines Quartet. Expertly repurposing current-day pop culture with a sly and satiric humor (“That’s a load of blog,” shouted Ted Swiney…”Cheesers Crice!”), Reeve fuses signature steampunk (technomancers who create Stalker armies of ‘lectric and wirework-brained corpses, gingerbread man-type armies made of paper, land barges and fuel-guzzling mono-wheeled vehicles), with what author Scott Westerfeld calls “old-fashioned derring-do,” to create a sometimes-light, sometimes-heavy, always fast-paced tale full of as many twists and turns as the Victorianesque London streets through which it runs.

Suitable for a younger audience (9-12), this book will also appeal to older steampunk, action-adventure, and perhaps even historical fiction/historical scifi fans. A fully-realized, strong female protagonist, Fever’s strength and resourcefulness, coupled with the story’s shying away from the usual romantic angle and touch of raucous battles, will make it a satisfying read for boys and girls alike.

Sequel A Web of Air coming October 1, 2011.

 

 
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