Monday, May 31, 2010

Hunger - Michael Grant

Title: Hunger (Book 2 of the Gone series)
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Harper Teen, 2010 (Paperback)
Length: 590 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction
Started: May 27, 2010
Finished: May 31, 2010

From the publisher's website:
It's been three months since everyone under the age of fifteen became trapped in the bubble known as the FAYZ.

Three months since all the adults disappeared.


Food ran out weeks ago. Everyone is starving, but no one wants to figure out a solution. And each day, more and more kids are evolving, developing supernatural abilities that set them apart from the kids without powers.

Tension rises and chaos is descending upon the town. It's the normal kids against the mutants. Each kid is out for himself, and even the good ones turn murderous.

But a larger problem looms. The Darkness, a sinister creature that has lived buried deep in the hills, begins calling to some of the teens in the FAYZ. Calling to them, guiding them, manipulating them.

The Darkness has awakened. And it is hungry.

After reading the first book in the series, Gone, I had hoped that the sequels would be just as good as the first one (I tend to get disappointed with series when the first one is amazing and the second or third one doesn't deliver). I didn't have to worry about that, Hunger is just as good as Gone, possibly even better. The Gone books rely heavily on plot, which is good because when the series is planned on being 6 books (3 already out), the plot has to be enough to carry the books alone. Not only is the plot wonderful and fast-paced, there are several perspectives happening all at once (Sam might be doing something with one group of kids, Lana's off in another area, Astrid's in Perdido Beach etc.). The constant switch from one group to another makes it easier to develop the characters, surprisingly. These novels have quite a few characters and they're all very well developed. Sam is under severe stress from all the demands placed on him, Astrid secretly hates having to take care of her autistic brother, Albert wants to improve life in the FAYZ and sees beyond the immediate concerns, Caine is still a power-hungry bastard, but loves Diana in his own way. Everyone can identify with at least one character, and you want to see how your character pulls through to the end, if they do (yes, characters will actually die).

Hunger is appropriately titled since it is the main theme of the novel. The kids are all happy to follow Sam's orders so long as they're all fed and happy. Once the food supply runs out, kids start getting desperate; the line between "freaks" and "normals" is starting to show, and of course there's the Darkness that starts calling out to certain kids, begging to be fed. This book has a darker undertone than Gone did, much much darker. Kids in the FAYZ start killing each other's pets when food runs out, the "normals" start attacking the "freaks" with the intent to kill, the mutated creatures the uncover are more and more deadly, and the Darkness hidden in the mine can control the children's minds and make them do his bidding. In my Gone review, I likened it to a modern version of The Lord of The Flies, but if you thought Lord of the Flies was gruesome, then don't read Hunger. These kids are more than desperate, and they commit almost every single horrible act you can think of short of cannibalism and rape (I'm just waiting for the older kids to resort to rape). The FAYZ is a microcosm for the adult world. Under the right circumstances, any good person can do horrible things that we can barely imagine, and Hunger illustrates this perfectly, sometimes to the discomfort of some readers. Some people won't be able to read this through, especially since it's children committing these deeds against other children, and I say again, Hunger makes The Lord of the Flies look like a kindergarten teacher in a Christmas sweater. If you can get past that though, you're in for a really thought-provoking read. Sam faces a lot of challenges as a leader, the main one being that he needs to order kids to work in order to harvest the last of the food in the FAYZ before it rots in the fields. The kids are reluctant to say the least, and expect Sam to solve all their problems without doing their part to contribute. It raises some good discussion points on what a good society needs to function.

If you can get past the violence, you're in for a wonderful book, probably one of the best series I've read this year.

Thoughts on the cover:
It's good to see the continuation from Gone's cover. Just like Caine and Diana were on the back cover of Gone and Sam and Astrid were on the front, Hunger's cover features the reverse with Caine and Diana on the front. It looks like they're keeping the same theme for all the covers, every two books feature two couples that switch positions on the covers.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Darklight - Lesley Livingston

Title: Darklight
Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Harper Teen, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 310 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: May 20, 2010
Finished: May 30, 2010

From the publisher's website:
Faerie can't lie . . . or can they?

Much has changed since autumn, when Kelley Winslow learned she was a Faerie princess, fell in love with changeling guard Sonny Flannery, and saved the mortal realm from the ravages of the Wild Hunt. Now Kelley is stuck in New York City, rehearsing Romeo and Juliet and missing Sonny more with every stage kiss, while Sonny has been forced back to the Otherworld and into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the remaining Hunters and Queen Mabh herself.

When a terrifying encounter sends Kelley tumbling into the Otherworld, her reunion with Sonny is joyful but destined to be cut short. An ancient, hidden magick is stirring, and a dangerous new enemy is willing to risk everything to claim that power. Caught in a web of Faerie deception and shifting allegiances, Kelley and Sonny must tread carefully, for each next step could topple a kingdom . . . or tear them apart.

Since I loved Wondrous Strange, picking this up was a no-brainer, plus it helps that I have a signed copy at home!

Anywhoo, Darklight picks up 6 months after the events of Samhain in Wondrous Strange, Sonny is off hunting down the remnants of the Wild Hunt, and Kelley is practicing for the Avalon Grande's production of Romeo and Juliet. Then come the leprechauns...but not the cute little Lucky Charms type of leprechauns. In this world, leprechauns are the equivalent of scary biker dudes, and these ones are out for revenge. So amidst escaping from psycho leprechauns, more faerie politics are unearthed, which leads to readers finding out more about Sonny's past. Darklight had a different feel from Wondrous Strange, simply because the first book ran on Kelley's relationship with Sonny and finding out who she really was. In Darklight, Kelley and Sonny are established, Kelley's set as far as being a faerie princess (though she still has mommy and daddy issues), so the book's only really got the plot to move itself forward, whereas Wondrous Strange had subplots other than the whole Samhain Gate thingie. There is a fair bit of emotional angst though, which leads me to the one pet peeve I have with this book....spoilers abound below so please skip to the bottom if you'd like to remain unaware.

This in no way retracts from the book itself, so I'll say that outright, the book is wonderful, this is just a purely personal thing of mine. I hate, hate, hate when romantically involved characters say they don't love each other even when they really do, just because they believe that doing so will safeguard the other person from some kind of harm (being with them is somehow dangerous to their health). It happens in anime series all the time, and I just want to chuck the book/anime/manga/tv series out the window when a character goes down that road. All it does is cause undue emotional angst, and the characters always reunite after some strained time apart, so I feel that in a way it's cheating out on some real character development. I can't even let it slide because of their age, it's just a stupid move across the board whether the character is young or not. You either love the person or you don't, if you really love them you wouldn't want to hurt them by your admission whether you're lying or not, so you tell the truth and work things out some other way.

If you liked Wondrous Strange, read this!

Thoughts on the cover:
I love how the cover goes with the previous one, just using more pinks as opposed to the blues of Wondrous Strange's. Same model too, yay for continuity!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

For The Win - Cory Doctorow

Title: For The Win
Author: Cory Doctorow
Publisher: Tor Teen, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 475 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Started: May 21, 2010
Finished: May 26, 2010


In the virtual future, you must organize to survive.

At any hour of the day or night, millions of people around the globe are engrossed in multiplayer online games, questing and battling to win virtual “gold,” jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, others seek to exploit this vast shadow economy, running electronic sweatshops in the world’s poorest countries, where countless “gold farmers,” bound to their work by abusive contracts and physical threats, harvest virtual treasure for their employers to sell to First World gamers who are willing to spend real money to skip straight to higher-level gameplay.

Mala is a brilliant 15-year-old from rural India whose leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her the title of “General Robotwalla.” In Shenzen, heart of China’s industrial boom, Matthew is defying his former bosses to build his own successful gold-farming team. Leonard, who calls himself Wei-Dong, lives in Southern California, but spends his nights fighting virtual battles alongside his buddies in Asia, a world away. All of these young people, and more, will become entangled with the mysterious young woman called Big Sister Nor, who will use her experience, her knowledge of history, and her connections with real-world organizers to build them into a movement that can challenge the status quo.

The ruthless forces arrayed against them are willing to use any means to protect their power—including blackmail, extortion, infiltration, violence, and even murder. To survive, Big Sister’s people must out-think the system. This will lead them to devise a plan to crash the economy of every virtual world at once—a Ponzi scheme combined with a brilliant hack that ends up being the biggest, funnest game of all.

Imbued with the same lively, subversive spirit and thrilling storytelling that made LITTLE BROTHER an international sensation, FOR THE WIN is a prophetic and inspiring call-to-arms for a new generation.

After the stellar release of Little Brother and finding out that the author was writing another young adult book, this time about video gamers and MMORPGs, I knew picking this up was a no-brainer.

For The Win definitely has a different feel from Little Brother, that much is evident. Whereas Little Brother was about hacker kids and personal rights and freedoms in a world gone mad with paranoia about terrorism, For The Win deals mainly with MMORPG game players, economics, and unions. For those that don't know, MMORPGs are otherwise known as massively multiplayer online role playing games, games like World of Warcraft and all those annoying Facebook games we always see updates for on our news feeds. If you've ever played one of these games before, you know how much of a time-suck they can be. Almost everyone knows someone who's abandoned their real life in exchange for a virtual one, leveling up their character and accumulating in-game wealth and items. Some players don't have the patience for this level of dedication, so there are people that exist now that will play through the games and sell virtual money and items to these players in exchange for real money. For The Win calls these people Gold Farmers, and they are the main characters. Matthew, Mala, Yasmin, Wei-Dong, and Lu are all young gold farmers that work in various areas all over the world (mainly China and India). In a world where Coca Cola owns and operates some of the biggest economies in the world, and all of those are MMORPGs, people are making an insane amount of money off of the sale of virtual items (that's the first thing to wrap your head around, making a fortune on the sale of things that aren't even real). So like all businesses, they're contracted out to the Third World, paying teenagers piddling amounts of money to play all day in internet cafes. Sound like a good deal? Otherwise poverty-stricken children getting paid something to play computer games all day...sounds pretty good until their bosses start locking them inside the buildings until a high demand for a certain item is met, holding back their pay when they wish to leave the job, not getting paid at all when shady bosses take off, or getting raped by your higher-ups and not being able to say anything for fear of losing your job and being worse off than you were before.

For The Win takes place in just such a world.

The book begins with showcasing the lives of Matthew, Mala, and Wei-Dong (aka Leonard), and what they do as gold farmers and how they became involved in it. Part two shows all the characters becoming disillusioned with their jobs and being contacted by Big Sister Nor and being asked to help organize a massive worker strike to negotiate better pay and working conditions not just for the game workers, who call themselves Webblies, but for all workers everywhere. Part three shows how the strike is executed.

This author's young adult books are very interesting because although they're science fiction-y, they aren't really, because all the technology in the books is available now, just perhaps not employed in the same manner. The only way we know For The Win takes place in the near-distant future is because a reference is made at one point to World of Warcraft being the predecessor for all the games mentioned in the book. Just like Little Brother explains all its techie and hacker concepts so all readers can understand, For The Win explains all the economic concepts in a way that anyone can understand, which is good for me because though I can follow things pretty well, some of the economic stuff got way over my head at times. The book is a lot to wrap your head around, but not necessarily in a bad way, there was just a lot of characters and experiences and concepts to process, not the kind of thing to read if you aren't in the mood to or can't concentrate.

Unlike Little Brother where Marcus' views were contrasted with his parents' views, I felt that For The Win was very pro-union with not a lot of voices contrasting that idea. Granted, in my opinion unions sometimes cause more trouble than they solve, but given the context of the book and the areas of the world where everything take place, the one-sided pro-union message is appropriate. Parents and teachers should be prepared to explain the first world view of unions and how sometimes our reactions to them would be different than someone in India and China.

Just as with Little Brother, if you're looking for a must-read book for boys, or if you're a geeky, techie adult, read this! Even if you're neither of those things, For The Win transcends boundaries for readers, so I think everyone can enjoy this. In other words, For The Win FTW (yes, I couldn't resist putting that in).

Thoughts on the cover:
This cover is much improved over the one for Little Brother. I love the black and gold colour scheme and the image is very fitting.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Supernatural Tour 2010

The HarperCollins Supernatural Summer Tour 2010 was my first ever book tour/book signing, mostly because we're in Canada and when these kinds of things do come up our way, they go to Toronto...and like most Canadians that don't live in Toronto, we have an aversion to driving into Toronto unless absolutely necessary (going in via public transit is another story cause Toronto subways rock).

Anywhoo, I've never done one of these before tonight, and my first impressions were nothing short of spectacular. The authors were: Lesley Livingston (author of Wondrous Strange and Darklight), Aprilynne Pike (author of Wings and Spells), and Kim Harrison (author of Once Dead, Twice Shy; and Early to Death, Early to Rise). The staff at Chapters Burlington handled everything very well, the host (Connie) was great, and the ladies themselves had great chemistry amongst the three of them so the discussion was really fun. There was a general discussion, followed by Q&A, then the signing. The general discussion started off with all three authors reading a short passage from their books and then doing their own little talk for a few minutes before moving on to the next person. Lesley Livingston is hilarious, completely geeky and book-ish and sounds just like some of my friends do when they're fooling around. Aprilynne Pike is just simply cute, that's the only way to describe her, she's just really sweet and bubbly. Kim Harrison is a seasoned author and seemed very professional during her talk. Some of the highlights were: finding out that an author has little to no influence in the titles of their books (all publishing/marketing's doing), finding out the joys of getting your book licensed into a movie by Disney and getting no say whatsoever in the process, listening to music during the writing process, whether authors are truly normal people or whether they end up being just a little nuts, and seeing Lesley do her version of the "happy author dance". All the authors signed whatever was brought to the talk, so that was really nice that they didn't impose a limit to only the books being promoted at the event, which means I got 6 books signed tonight! When Lesley was signing my books, I told her I was an English teacher and loved her Shakespeare references in her books and she even gave me a hint (since she can't reveal the title yet) as to the Shakespeare play her next book in the series was going to revolve around (after I figured it out....The Tempest!). All the ladies were super nice, not to mention funny, and everyone really enjoyed the night. We even got freebie swag bags from the publisher (after spending $50+ in books, you'll take whatever you can get for free).

This was the first stop in the Supernatural Tour period (it doesn't hit the US till next week), not to mention the first stop in Canada, so we felt pretty proud about that. We got two very famous American YA authors who'd never been to Canada before (so hopefully we made a good impression), plus a Canadian author who's just pure awesome. I'm still coming down from the high of tonight, I've been so psyched about this for the past month. So I got to meet my first authors and get some really nice signed copies for my classroom's going to be really hard to loan these out to the kids now that they're signed, I don't want to let them out of my sight!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Things That Keep Us Here - Carla Buckley

Title: The Things That Keep Us Here
Author: Carla Buckley
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 404 pages
Genre: Adult; Realistic Fiction, Dystopian Fiction
Started: May 12, 2010
Finished: May 20, 2010

From the inside cover:
How far would you go to protect your family?

Ann Brooks never thought she’d have to answer that question. Then she found her limits tested by a crisis no one could prevent. Now, as her neighborhood descends into panic, she must make tough choices to protect everyone she loves from a threat she cannot even see. In this chillingly urgent novel, Carla Buckley confronts us with the terrifying decisions we are forced to make when ordinary life changes overnight.

A year ago, Ann and Peter Brooks were just another unhappily married couple trying–and failing–to keep their relationship together while they raised two young daughters. Now the world around them is about to be shaken as Peter, a university researcher, comes to a startling realization: A virulent pandemic has made the terrible leap across the ocean to America’s heartland.

And it is killing fifty out of every hundred people it touches.

As their town goes into lockdown, Peter is forced to return home–with his beautiful graduate assistant. But the Brookses’ safe suburban world is no longer the refuge it once was. Food grows scarce, and neighbor turns against neighbor in grocery stores and at gas pumps. And then a winter storm strikes, and the community is left huddling in the dark.

Trapped inside the house she once called home, Ann Brooks must make life-or-death decisions in an environment where opening a door to a neighbor could threaten all the things she holds dear.

Carla Buckley’s poignant debut raises important questions to which there are no easy answers, in an emotionally riveting tale of one family facing unimaginable stress.

The Things That Keep Us Here is a pseudo dystopian story for adults. Ann and Peter Brooks are a couple on the brink of divorce living in Ohio while raising their two daughters. Peter is a university researcher and stumbles upon the emergence of avian flu (H5N1 in the novel) in North America. The virus then makes the jump from birds to humans and the country shuts down: air travel is suspended, schools are closed, fuel is scarce, food is scarcer, and utilities aren't working. Worse yet, this strain of the flu is killing half of the people that get it, which makes everyone beyond paranoid.

This book was frightening to read, simply because the subject matter hits close to home after the whole swine flu episode this past fall. The reason I classified this as realistic fiction is that it's very possible that we could find ourselves in a similar situation under the right circumstances, which makes this all the more freaky. Although, as the novel points out, in such a dire situation as the one described, it's not really the virus you need to worry about, it's the people you know and how quickly they abandon their humanity in the face of crisis. Aside from trying to juggle irrational behaviour from neighbours, Ann and Peter are trying to simply in lockdown in their own home. It makes you realize that no one can really prepare for something of this scale, you need months worth of non-perishable food, alternative cooking/heating sources for when electricity is out, gallons of bottled water for when tap water is not an option, candles, basic medical supplies in the event you can't get to a hospital, litres of gasoline for when fuel is impossible to find, not to mention medications and other specialized supplies for pets and babies. It's staggering. I went grocery shopping in between reading sessions, and I realized afterwards that reading the book affected what I was buying, it made that much of an impression. The novel deals with issues around letting yourself care about and love other people, and also issues of community and trust, a real eye-opening book in the age of pandemics.

Don't read this if you scare too easily or are prone to lie awake at night due to anxiety you can't shake. It's an awesome book but some people just won't enjoy it because of the subject matter.

Thoughts on the cover:
Once you realize what the book is about, this cover is just creepy and unsettling. I think the little girl is supposed to be Maddie, the family's youngest daughter, and her holding a feather makes for a beautiful image, but still creepy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Once Dead, Twice Shy - Kim Harrison

Title: Once Dead, Twice Shy
Author: Kim Harrison
Publisher: Harper Teen, 2010 (Paperback)
Length: 232 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: May 16, 2010
Finished: May 19, 2010

From the back of the book:
My name is Madison Avery, and I'm here to tell you that there's more out there than you can see, hear, or touch. Because I'm there. Seeing it. Touching it. Living it.

Madison's prom was killer—literally. For some reason she's been targeted by a dark reaper—yeah, that kind of reaper—intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away.

Now she's stuck on Earth—dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn't know why the dark reaper is after her, but she's not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.

With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe . . . ), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison's ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.

Well, if she believed in that stuff.

This is the last of the series I started reading for the Supernatural Summer Tour, and I admit, it's a nice break from the two previous fairy-based stories. Madison starts off dead, but she still has some semblance of her body, a consequence of stealing an amulet from the dark reaper who killed her. Now she's working for a light reaper named Barnabas trying to stop dark reapers from killing other people, and finds out the dark reaper wants his amulet back and is stalking her crush to get to her. I love Madison as a character, sarcastic and punky. Plus, she died on her prom night, that's rough enough to get some empathy out of me. I wish Barnabas showed up in the book more because I loved his character, he acts like a petulant 5-year-old at times, which contrasts to Madison's calm and cool attitude. There's only one downside to this novel. As I was reading through it, I couldn't shake the feeling that there were chunks of information missing that weren't being filled in, almost as if this wasn't the first novel in the series. Turns out I was right, although this is the first novel of a series, the author contributed to an anthology collection called "Prom Nights From Hell" which introduced Madison and explained her death and the light/dark reapers. Since the author decided to start a series based on the concept after writing in the anthology, it would have been nice to include the anthology piece as an extra for this book just to get up to speed without having to buy another book just for that one anthology piece. Aside from feeling like I missed the first half of the story when I was only on page 20, the plot's mediocre once you do piece things together. I think the main reason I enjoyed the book is because I really took to Madison as a character.

This isn't the best example of this particular type of supernatural story (dead but not dead), but it's got a really great protagonist, so that might be enough for some people to really enjoy the book.

Thoughts on the cover:
I'm not sure why, but I love this cover. I think it might be because we can't see Madison's eyes and her hair obscures most of her face, so all we see is this almost serene pose in black and white. I love the pink accent colour, it's shimmery without being metallic and a really nice shade of pink too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wondrous Strange - Lesley Livingston

Title: Wondrous Strange
Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Harper Trophy Canada, 2009 (Paperback)
Length: 327 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: May 15, 2010
Finished: May 16, 2010

From the publisher's website:
Kelley Winslow is living her dream. Seventeen years old, she has moved to New York City and started to work with a theatre company. Sure, she’s only an understudy for the Avalon Players, a third-tier repertory company so far off- Broadway it might as well be in Hoboken, but things are looking up—the lead has broken her ankle and Kelley’s about to step into the role of Titania the Faerie Queen in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Faeries are far more real than Kelley thinks, though, and a chance encounter in Central Park with a handsome young man named Sonny Flannery plunges her into an adventure she could never have imagined.
Sonny is a Janus Guard, charged by Auberon, the King of Winter, with watching over the gate into the land of Faerie, which lies within Central Park. For Sonny, the pretty, young actress is an enigma. Strong and willful, she sparks against his senses like a firecracker, and he can’t get her out of his mind. As Hallowe’en approaches and the Samhain Gate opens, Sonny and Kelley find themselves drawn to each other—and into a terrible plot that could spell disaster for both New York and Faerie alike.

I thank the gods of books everywhere, I have finally found a fairy/faerie novel that I like! And the author's Canadian to boot! Excuse me for a moment as I perform my "we Canadians are awesome" dance...okay I'm done now.

Seriously, I enjoyed Wondrous Strange a lot, and the fact that the author happens to be Canadian was a nice bonus. It was also nominated as a Forest of Reading title this year, and as I should remember, the Forest of Reading titles are always good in my experience. The plot starts out as something similar to other fairy novels but quickly distinguishes itself to become engrossing and just plain enchanting. Kelley encounters Sonny one night in Central Park as he's on duty guarding the Samhain gate for Auberon, King of the Unseelie Court. Kelley's practicing her lines as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Sonny overhears her and believes she's addressing him. The way the two meet is just as sweet as how their relationship unfolds, and the scenes between the two are simply heartwarming. The romance does develop a little quickly, but the sheer cuteness of Kelley and Sonny together makes my suspension of disbelief happen a little quicker. I like how the narration is always third person but alternates between Kelley and Sonny's perspectives until the two meet, it's very seamless and I didn't realize the author was doing it. The plot itself was fast paced and moved along quite nicely with no low points. Although some parts were slightly predictable, there were points where the story actually surprised me, which is impressive because I can usually tell where a story is going (which is a downside of reading as much as I do). My favourite part was the illusion of the Wild Hunt, it was very creative and was just a really appealing scene. The novel is the first of a series, and although some aspects are left open-ended to continue in the next installment, the main plot points wrap up nicely in the end. I will definitely be checking out the sequel, Darklight, which is already out now.

Read this now! If you're looking for a (finally) good example of a faerie novel or just good Canadian YA literature, you have to check this out.

Thoughts on the cover:
Though I'm not a big fan of covers whose only focus is a person's face, this one pulls it off relatively well. The girl on the cover actually looks like how Kelley is described, although her eyes are a bit too dark to be green. The dark blue background is really striking against the dark red of her hair and the white dress.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wings - Aprilynne Pike

Title: Wings
Author: Aprilynne Pike
Publisher: Harper Teen, 2010 (Paperback)
Length: 294 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: May 13, 2010
Finished: May 14, 2010

From the author's website:
Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful--too beautiful for words.
Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

Laurel discovers she is a faerie, sent among humans to protect the gateway to Avalon. Thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she's torn between a human and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to each world. In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

Yes, it's another fairy story, and I swear I will eventually find a faerie/fairy novel that I'll love, cause I haven't found one yet. Wings begins with wonderful world-building and exploration of Laurel's character as readers discover who she is and gather clues that something isn't quite right with her. It starts off great but then slows with the introduction of David and Laurel's agonizing over her discovery of her flower petal "wings". Things pick up again with the introduction of Tamani, but slows again with a poorly developed antagonist and love triangle aspect. I don't think David was developed enough for me to really relate to him, he seemed one-sided and placed purely to make a love triangle. Tamani actually had a personality beyond being a love-sick puppy over Laurel. On to the things I did like though, the writing is quite nice, the scene where Laurel first discovers her "wings" is captivating. I love the set-up and the version of faerie lore the author uses, that faeries are classified by seasons rather than elements (iron, ice). Laurel is a good character and well-rounded, not annoying either. Even so, the novel just didn't wow me, it doesn't stand out as anything different from any of the other fairy novels I've read recently. Granted, this is the first book of a trilogy, so hopefully the plot and character development improves with subsequent novels, and I'm definitely interested in seeing how the story progresses.

If you're into the massive amount of fairy novels that have come out recently (fairies are the new vampires), read this! Again, it didn't do much for me, but it has its good features and would probably appeal more to the type of person who's really ga-ga over these fairy stories.

Thoughts on the cover:
This cover is subtle but gorgeous, two petals arranged to look like wings floating on water. This makes sense because Laurel's "wings" are actually flower petals. Again, simple but very appealing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dead in the Family - Charlaine Harris

Title: Dead in the Family (Book 10 in the Sookie Stackhouse series of novels)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher: Ace, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Adult; Fantasy
Started: May 8, 2010
Finished: May 13, 2010

Sookie Stackhouse has finally settled into a relationship with the Viking vampire Eric, and her errant brother Jason seems to have his life in order, too. But all the other people in Sookie’s life – Eric himself, her former lover Bill, her friend and boss Sam – are having family problems. Eric’s maker shows up with Eric’s ‘brother’ in tow, the ailing Bill can only be healed by a blood sibling, and Sam’s brother’s marriage is about to take place …or will it? The furor raised by the coming out of the two-natured has yet to settle; some people are just not ready to sit down to dinner with a man who turns into a dog. And Sookie herself is still recovering from her last ordeal. She’s definitely improving, physically and mentally, but she’s always going to have some dark moments now. The werewolves tell her that there have been strange and ominous passers-by in the Stackhouse woods; now Sookie is about to come face-to-face with one of her more distant relatives …

A warning now, this will probably not make much sense unless you've read all the previous books in the series. If you don't like to spoiled in any way, play it safe and don't read this.

Finally, my guilty pleasure read. Sadly, I'm finished it now and will probably have to wait another year for the next book, which I will be begging for based on how this one ended. I'll say right off the bat, not much happens in this book. It happens in long series where some books will be more like bridges connecting them to bigger events that happen either before or after, this would be my definition of a bridge book (Book 6, Definitely Dead, had a similar feel). Not much actually happens plot-wise except for a lot of vampire and werewolf politics, but there is some development in secondary areas: Sookie gets to spend more time with her nephew Hunter, Bill has issues recovering from silver poisoning, and Claude turns out to be not as big of an ass as we thought he was. It's not until about three quarters into the book that some actual action takes place, which really makes me want the next book because this one left quite a few things unresolved at the end, so I know Book 11 will be a doozy. I think Claude stole this book for me, I love my male characters that act like bastards, and Claude does it so well, I was laughing my head off at some parts. The book is much darker than previous ones, granted all the books have their dark moments but the overall tone is usually lighthearted, whereas this one is actually kind of depressing due to Sookie's changing attitudes during her recovery. I felt like Alexei's character was thrown together for filler's sake, but his story actually does work out in the overall plot.

Again, it's darker and not a lot going on plot-wise, but this all builds up to events in the next book (or so I hope). Skip the hardcover version this time around and get it from the library or get the paperback in a year's time (I went with the eBook version myself).

Thoughts on the cover:
The covers for recent installments have been getting better, but still very cheesy. This one is a little misleading because though it alludes to more romance between Sookie and Eric but the book wasn't very romance-heavy this time around. I love the little sparkly details on Sookie's dress, which I noticed they started adding since Book 8, From Dead to Worse.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced - Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui

Title: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
Author: Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui
Publisher: Three Rivers Press, 2010 (Paperback)
Length: 188 pages
Genre: Adult; Nonfiction
Started: May 11, 2010
Finished: May 12, 2010

“I’m a simple village girl who has always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything. Today I have decided to say no.”

Forced by her father to marry a man three times her age, young Nujood Ali was sent away from her parents and beloved sisters and made to live with her husband and his family in an isolated village in rural Yemen. There she suffered daily from physical and emotional abuse by her mother-in-law and nightly at the rough hands of her spouse. Flouting his oath to wait to have sexual relations with Nujood until she was no longer a child, he took her virginity on their wedding night. She was only ten years old.

Unable to endure the pain and distress any longer, Nujood fled—not for home, but to the courthouse of the capital, paying for a taxi ride with a few precious coins of bread money. When a renowned Yemeni lawyer heard about the young victim, she took on Nujood’s case and fought the archaic system in a country where almost half the girls are married while still under the legal age. Since their unprecedented victory in April 2008, Nujood’s courageous defiance of both Yemeni customs and her own family has attracted a storm of international attention. Her story even incited change in Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries, where underage marriage laws are being increasingly enforced and other child brides have been granted divorces.

Recently honored alongside Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice as one of Glamour magazine’s women of the year, Nujood now tells her full story for the first time. As she guides us from the magical, fragrant streets of the Old City of Sana’a to the cement-block slums and rural villages of this ancient land, her unflinching look at an injustice suffered by all too many girls around the world is at once shocking, inspiring, and utterly unforgettable.

This small biography covers the experiences of Nujood Ali, a girl from Yemen who was married in 2008 at the age of 10 to a man more than three times her age. I've always loved reading about these kinds of female rights issues ever since my mom told me the story of how my paternal grandfather reacted at the time of my birth, he refused to believe his first grandchild (me) had not been born a boy. I realized we're not immune to these kinds of things even in Canada, even in this day and age. Women and girls have to put up with all kinds of crap simply because we're female, and books like these make us explore these issues and make us aware that there are women out there that endure things that we can never imagine, and what happens when practices and traditions are blindly followed and aren't questioned.

The first thing I thought of when I finished this book was that it would be an excellent read for a law or civics class. Nujood had no record of her birth, her own parents couldn't determine her exact age, and she was married to a man in his thirties with the promise that he wouldn't do anything to her sexually until after she had reached puberty...and people think this passes for a binding contract? It's amazing that Nujood's divorce was even granted considering the stigma of the issue and the fact that she technically didn't even exist because she had no documents or papers. With a female lawyer agreeing to represent her for free and the shock to the masses of a 10 year old girl asking for a divorce because she'd been raped and beaten by a husband old enough to be her father, Nujood was granted freedom from the agreement made for her by her father.

What's interesting is to compare the issues in this book to others in the world, especially around the concept of familial honour. When my husband and I were in Japan, I had to learn a specific word that I knew to scream out in case I was ever assaulted while we were on the trains and subways. Japan has such a high incidence of sexual assaults taking place on trains that they had to start offering female-only cars. The worst thing is that women don't say anything as the assault's going on because they're in a crowded train with people all around, which makes it so ironic it's almost funny. Women wouldn't dare call attention to the fact that they're being assaulted and shame their family and possibly ruin their chances at marriage (yes, Japan is still very patriarchal). Even here women sometimes don't report assaults or abuse for fear they'll be labelled something they don't want, their names will forever be branded. Essentially you could sum up our upbringing with "don't act like a whore and shame the family". Even in my household, my father had a very specific idea of how girls should act, and I couldn't do things my male cousins of the same age were allowed to do because it "wasn't proper for a girl" and would be looked upon as embarrassing. Granted, my idea of morality is pretty simple, just as I don't like it when girls act with their boobs instead of their brain, I don't like it when boys act like man-whores either, so I may be a prude that way, but at least I'm an egalitarian prude. It's also interesting in that it's not just women who suffer in Nujood's story, her father and brothers go through some harsh experiences too, so just as women in her culture are held accountable for their sexuality, men are held accountable for other things.

All in all, even though it's a really short book, it's full of debatable issues and discussion topics that are sure to strike up conversation.

Thoughts on the cover:
I never get tired of looking at pictures of this girl because she is oh so adorable. I'm glad they chose a picture of her in traditional dress because only married women dress like that, and it just brings the issue home further because you realize that she is indeed married and is obviously not even close to what anyone would consider a marriageable age.

Seven for a Secret - Mary C. Sheppard

Title: Seven for a Secret (Tales From Cook's Cove series)
Author: Mary C. Sheppard
Publisher: Groundwood Books, 2001 (Paperback)
Length: 189 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Realistic Fiction
Started: May 7, 2010
Finished: May 11, 2010

From the author's website:
Fifteen-year-old Melinda is looking forward to spending another summer with her cousins Rebecca and Kate in the small outport village of Cook's Cove on Newfoundland's west coast. Rebecca is a goody-goody who is under the thumb of her stern mother. Kate, the city dweller, is determined not to let a boyfriend block her future. Melinda, for her part, has a tendency to act out. The cousins are like sisters, watching out for one another. When a stranger comes to the village and invites Rebecca to Boston to develop her artistic talent, the girls are suddenly exposed to the possibilities of the outside world. Melinda finds herself not only responsible for keeping family secrets but also faced with deciding just how far family loyalty should go.

This is the first title in the Tales From Cook's Cove series, chronicling young women from various generations growing up in Newfoundland. I've read the other two titles in the series, so I decided to backtrack and read the first title (the titles don't necessarily need to be read in order). This installment can be seen as a prequel to Three for a Wedding, the most recent title. Seven for a Secret covers the summer of 1960 for cousins Melinda, Kate, and Rebecca. Those same girls are later seen as middle-aged adults in Three for a Wedding. Melinda, Kate, and Rebecca are all 15 going on 16 and are faced with some tough decisions: marry young or stay in school to further their education. Melinda especially is very smart, so her mother wants nothing more than for her to go on to become a nurse. But there are secrets in the Derby family that threaten to make the girls' decisions for them. Melinda wonders why her mother never had more than three children, Rebecca wonders why a man from Boston is intent on bringing her there to further her artistic talent, and all three wonder why Rebecca's birth certificate shows a different birthdate than the one she's always known. Throughout the summer, the girls discover the truths to all these secrets and more, and those answers will change their lives.

The one thing that needs to be said about this novel more so than the other two, is that a lot of the characters' actions are defined by the time period they are living in. You cannot go into this book with a modern viewpoint and judge the girls like we judge our 15-year-olds today. Barely into the 60s, especially in a rural area like that in the book, girls got married young and many didn't finish high school; my mom told me stories about the same thing from when she was in high school in the early 70s. I can't spoil the ending for you, but there will be some actions that will unsettle some readers, so just go into this story remembering that it's rural Newfoundland in 1960, women were still expected to get married and be baby factories.

Now that I've read all three books in this series so far, I still say my favourite is One for Sorrow in terms of the type of story it tells. All the books are wonderfully written, and retain all the great dialogue that I've come to expect from a story about Newfoundlanders. I hope the author continues with this series, hopefully going back further than 1960 and after 1988, it would be nice to get all 7 planned books spanning the whole 20th century.

If you're a fan of the series or just want to read a good example of Canadian YA literature, read this! Beware, there is a sex scene and mention of teenage pregnancy, so I wouldn't give this to anyone below the high school level.

Thoughts on the cover:
Thank the gods of book covers that these novels got revised covers after the change in publishers after the first book. I like the new covers much better compared to this, though the one for Seven for a Secret isn't without its charms.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Body Finder - Kimberly Derting

Title: The Body Finder
Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher: Harper Teen, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 327 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy, Mystery
Started: May 6, 2010
Finished: May 7, 2010

From the author's website:
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.

Another pick from the Harper Collins preview night. Just as I'm a sucker for dystopian fiction, I can't turn down a really good mystery either, so when I heard about this book I knew I had to give it a try. This is a combination romance and murder mystery with some supernatural thrown in. Violet has the ability to sense bodies that died from unnatural causes, she can also match up an echo that a dead body gives off to the imprint on the person that killed them. When girls start disappearing and she stumbles upon the first of the bodies, she decides to plant herself at key locations to try to identify the killer by the imprint he'll give off. While all this is going on, Violet is trying to deal with her changing feelings towards her childhood friend, Jay. The romance in this novel is so incredibly sweet, it perfectly captures the early stages of a relationship when you're not really sure you're in a relationship yet but you know you want to be but haven't broached the subject with the other person yet. The author conveys these emotions so well, I almost felt like I was reliving the early days when I first met my husband, just in a different setting. Jay and Violet are very real characters, I felt that they could be any of the kids I teach on a daily basis. Jay is very protective of Violet, but in a sweet and not controlling way, he just made my heart melt, he's such a sweetie. I love Violet's down-to-earth personality despite her weird ability, and the fact that she's described as having curly hair doesn't hurt either (I have a fondness for characters that look like me).

The writing is well done, but I feel that the mystery element wasn't very well developed. Granted, the odd chapters told from the point of view of the killer are downright chilling, but this feels like a romance novel disguised as a mystery. The mystery part of the plot is concluded too abruptly and doesn't really hit it's peak until almost the end of the novel, most of the book focuses on the romance with Jay and Violet, with the mystery essentially forcing their feelings out in the open. I'm not complaining though, I love the romance in this book, I read through it so quickly because I was captivated by it, but don't pick this up expecting a mystery with a dash of romance sub-plot, this is more like a "would you like some add-on plot with your romance?" This is the first in a series and I'm interested in seeing where things go in future books, so I'll definitely be picking up the subsequent installments.

If you're looking for a really sweet romance with some intense, heart-pounding, predator versus prey thriller-type stuff, read this!

Thoughts on the cover:
Meh, I'm not nuts about it. I think it would have been cooler if there had been an outline of a girl lying in the fetal position in the centre of the flower to highlight that aspect and to echo the title.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gone - Michael Grant

Title: Gone
Author: Michael Grant
Publisher: Harper Teen, 2009 (Paperback)
Length: 553 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian, Science Fiction
Started: April 29, 2010
Finished: May 5, 2010

From the publisher's website:

In the blink of an eye.
Everyone disappears.

Except for the young. Teens. Middle Schoolers. Toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. And just as suddenly there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to figure out what's happened. And no way to get help.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your 15th birthday, you will disappear just like everyone else.

I went to a Harper Collins preview night for new teen releases just last week, so a lot of the stuff I'll be reviewing in the next month or so will be Harper Teen titles. This is Book 1 of a planned 6 book series, book 3 just came out as well, so it'll be a long one, but I don't think that'll be a problem for me. I loved this book, not only because I love dystopian fiction, but because this is The Lord of the Flies updated and modernized...with some X-Men influences thrown in. Sam and Quinn are buddies living in Perdido Beach, a small coastal California town, and one day in the middle of History class, their teacher disappears, poof! They meet up with their friend AStrid in another classroom and she confirms that her teacher and a few of her classmates disappeared as well. The children remaining in the school eventually figure out that every person over the age of 14 is gone, and that there's a dome-like barrier enclosing a 20 mile radius centering on the nearby nuclear power plant, what they suspect is the cause of the situation. To make matters worse, the kids discover that some of their peers possess psychic powers: Sam can make light shoot from his hands, and Astrid's autistic little brother can do a number of things including telekinesis. Just as things are getting chaotic, students from the nearby Coates Academy private school come into town wanting to join together as a society, with a boy named Caine posing as a leader. Of course, absolute power corrupts absolutely, so Caine and company end up being purely twisted and Sam and company end up in a power struggle to keep everyone alive.

The story is fast-paced and never boring, the writing is witty with modern teen/pre-teen dialogue, and there's a delightfully twisted aspect because the kids are completely cruel to each other. If you thought The Lord of the Flies was shocking in terms of violence and cruelty, the book makes The Lord of the Flies look like a kindergarten teacher in a Christmas sweater. The kids in Gone aren't savagely cruel like the boys in The Lord of the Flies, but in a more modern warfare type of cruel. Instead of dropping rocks on people, The kids in Gone encase kids' hands in cement to prevent them from using their powers, and send a pack of wild talking coyotes to attack a daycare centre full of children. As soon as I read this, the first thing I thought of was that this could replace The Lord of The Flies in schools as a more modern choice that appeals to kids. The themes of the "dark heart of man" are the same, and the circumstances are eerily similar, just with some supernatural influence added. Although I appreciated The Lord of the Flies in terms of themes, I hated the story, and I know a lot of my students feel the same way; but I could definitely see kids getting into the story in Gone.

A modern Lord of the Flies (but better!) A different type of dystopian story similar to Garth Nix's "Shade's Children". Read this, you'll love it!

Thoughts on the cover:
I like the focus on two characters on the front with another two on the back. Sam and Astrid look like they're supposed to (though Astrid's lipstick colour bothers me for some reason), as well as Caine and Diana on the back. I love how stunned Sam and Astrid look and how nasty Caine and Diana look. The covers look like they keep this theme with the next volumes, Book 2 has Caine and Diana on the front with Sam and Astrid on the back.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Sunday Salon - Comic Books and Literacy

The Sunday

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. For those of you not familiar with the day, it is the first Saturday in May and comic book stores in the US and Canada (not sure if this exists elsewhere as well) can participate buy purchasing special comic books prepared by publishers which they in turn give to their patrons for free. The books can be anthologies or snippets of various popular series and indie titles, whatever the publishers wish to put out for that year. Stores may have different policies, some stores may only give out one book, others may give out several, some go all-out and dress up and have giveaways and barbecues.My husband and I love Free Comic Book Day, and we make it a point to go every year. We pick up the freebies and pick up any issues of comics we've missed out on (we love comics but find it difficult to make it to the store once a month like the regulars do).

The store we normally go to was completely crazy when we went yesterday, but in a good way; they had an artist signing, the freebie table, as well as their usual selection of stuff. It was great, I saw kids with their parents picking up copies of the Bone series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the usual manga crowd. There were a ton of adults there too without kids, but seeing the kids with the comics reminded me of when we took our nephews one year (we take them on our geeky excursions to further corrupt their impressionable minds). Our oldest nephew is out of the comic phase, and our younger one prefers novels now, but there was a time when they were younger when the only things these kids would read were comics and manga, and me being their teacher aunt, did everything I could to encourage them to read regardless of what they wanted to read. This continues even now, I'm probably one of the only mothers/aunts etc. that buys books for my teenage nephew rather than video games (I'm not a total prude, I do buy them video games too, but I like to think they appreciate them both equally). I was pleased at the comic book store we frequented, they had a special where they offered 4 free books to every customer, but if you had a library card on you, you could take 8 freebies. The store itself supplies our local public and school libraries with comic and graphic novel titles, so this was pleasing to see them incorporate that into Free Comic Book Day.

I constantly tell other teachers and parents to supply their students/children with age-appropriate comics or graphic novels if they have a struggling or reluctant reader, some kids just need visuals to go with the text, our oldest nephew was like that. Boys especially appreciate these literary formats, but a lot of people protest that they aren't "real" reading and that all kids should be reading novels. I find this to be plain old-fashioned, and that we should encourage kids to read anything appropriate for their age and maturity level, be it instruction manuals, magazines, comics, novels, advertisements, anything that gets them interested in reading and has them using their literacy skills. As with our nephews, they eventually found other formats they liked and moved on from just reading comics, but at that time, it worked for them. There are lots of comics and graphic novels appropriate for kids, and there are some made just for adults, but a comic book store should be able to point you in the right direction, or a teacher or librarian with some knowledge of them. If you think your child or student may be the type to just dive right into comics or graphic novels or manga and never look back, find kiddie-friendly titles and encourage them to read them, you might even find some titles and read them yourself, comics today are way more than just superheroes in tights.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Book of Awesome - Neil Pasricha

Title: The Book of Awesome
Author: Neil Pasricha
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 390 pages
Genre: Adult/Young Adult; Humour
Started: April 28, 2010
Finished: May 1, 2010

From the author's website/blog:
From neighbors with pools to ordering off the menu at fast-food restaurants to fixing electronics by smacking them, The Book of Awesome takes on life’s sweet feats with all the honest humor and winning enthusiasm that has earned Pasricha’s blog its millions of followers. But while powered along by Pasricha’s distinctive, fresh, and hilarious voice, The Book of Awesome isn’t about one man’s favorite things, but rather a catalog of the universal little pleasures we all share. With its focus on the many things that bring us together rather than the few things that split us apart, it’s a book that will appeal to people from all walks of life — housewives and college kids, children and senior citizens alike. Arising out of Pasricha’s riffs on popping bubble wrap and getting a trucker to blow his horn is an unexpected, genuine sort of inspiration, as The Book of Awesome offers up a hearty cheer for all the little things we take for granted.

The Book of Awesome is just one of those kinds of books that everyone who appreciates a concept like this just has to own. It's a feel-good book, like those Chicken Soup books, just less religious and more fun. The author runs a blog called 1000 Awesome Things which is the original idea that lead to this book. Basically, the page heading is the concept and then the author elaborates on the subject or gives a funny anecdote. It's a celebration of all things awesome yet ordinary, and some of them will make you feel nostalgic and make you laugh, like "Mastering the art of trick or treating", and "Dangerous playground equipment". Then there's my all-time fave: "Fixing electronics by smacking them", seriously, when doing this actually works, you feel awesome. There are also some sweet ones, like "Remembering how lucky we are to be here right now", and "Smiling and thinking of good friends who are gone", so it's not all laughs, but guaranteed this book will make you both laugh and cry. I can't stress enough how indeed awesome this book is, I have the e-Book version on my eReader and bought the physical one for my husband, and all I could hear while he was reading it was him laughing his head off. This book is for all ages, though younger kids might not get some of these ideas, but I'm sure some older teens might and definitely adults. So go out and read this book, it really truly is awesome!

Awesome. Need I say more?

Thoughts on the cover:
It's hard to imagine a cover for a book like this, there's no way to really have images on the cover 'cause it deals with so many things, but I think they got it right here: black cover with colourful text, simple yet fitting.