Category Archives: Literature Reviews

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall

Mary Downing Hahn

I recently read this children’s ghost story.  In a nutshell (without cracking it open completely), the story is about an orphan girl named Florence who is adopted by her great uncle after the untimely death of her cousin, Sophia.  The moment she arrives at Crutchfield Hall, she becomes aware of the strangeness hanging in the air and from there she must solve the mystery of her cousin’s murder before it’s too late.

I really enjoyed reading the book, especially the parts at the beginning when Hahn is building up the suspense and mystery surrounding Sophia’s death.  I liked the writing, and there were even some points when I was incredibly creeped out, especially since I was reading it at night.  I read the book in one day, so for older audiences it’ll definitely be a quick read.  For younger readers looking for a quick, spooky story involving mysteries and ghosts, I highly recommend it. And even though everyone warns never to do this, I think the cover is awesome.  Yes, yes, I often judge covers.  Claps go to whoever designed this one–it was the reason I picked the book.

My official blog rating: 4/5

Y: The Last Man

Y: The Last Man

Brian Vaughan

Phew.  I finally finished the series!

At first I didn’t think it was very impressive.  Yorick was a comic hottie, but I disliked 355 and Ampersand.  Even minor characters made me want to bash my head against a desk because I was either embarrassed by the portrayal of my gender or because they were just obnoxious characters.  I didn’t start really enjoying the series until after book three–then I couldn’t stop reading.  Some parts (like the bit about the play written about the last man on earth) I found to be boring, but other parts, such as the whole dramatic piece in volume 9, had me literally locking myself in the bathroom so I could finish without being interrupted.

Without giving anything away, here is what I thought of the ending: I liked it.  I thought it was tragic, and it broke my heart, but I kind of expected it to happen in some way at the beginning of the series.  The explanation for the plague was enough to satisfy me.  I enjoyed the 10th volume’s way of wrapping everything up and giving me enough hope that I was happy, but not enough to erase the sorrow of past events.  I think it’s important for books to stay true to the way things should be.  Sorrow should be honored as much as joy.

And don’t worry!  355 and Ampersand have found their own special places in my heart.  Rose and Beth #2  are also some personal favorites.  I still think Hero is a massive jerk though.

I recommend this series to readers who like stories about humanity and enjoy watching the way hard circumstances can change a people for the better and for the worse.  My rating: 4.5/5

Graphic Novels

I’ve always been a great supporter of graphic novels.  I love the way they encourage reluctant readers to eat up entire series because they don’t look like a traditional novel.  I love the colors and details in their artwork.  I love the way their pages feel.  As a kid I read the Bone series by Jeff Smith, and when I found out they were being published in collective volumes, I nearly did a dance at work.

I have to admit that I haven’t really read many graphic novels in my adult life.  Perhaps this is because of how messy the graphic novel section is at work, or perhaps because they are more expensive than my cheesy romance novels–who knows?  Of course I’ve read the classics like the Watchmen, but when it comes to reading, I tend to favor the wordier novels.

Recently a coworker suggested I read Runaways, a Marvel series written by Brian Vaughan.  I read the first four books over the last three days.  I love them!  When I go into work tomorrow, I plan on inter-library loaning the rest of them.  Some reviews I read of this series said that the plot was poorly constructed, the characters predictable and the artwork sloppy.  I’m not sure I agree with that.  The story is about a group of teens that discover their parents are actually super-villains.  They run away from home, and together bring their evil parents down.  In my opinion, I think the plot is great.  It’s a young adult series, and what young adult hasn’t at one point felt that their parents were the worst parents in the universe?  Even if this plot is predictable, it is comforting to read a story about teens who definitely have the worst parents in the world.  And the best part is they do something about it.  The girls in the ground don’t need to be rescued and there is even a little bit of romance!  Also, when the truth is revealed about the parent’s motivation for their plotting, I had a moment of uncertainty.  I wasn’t so sure they were as evil as I had pinned them for.  This moral debate is proof enough for me that this isn’t just some cheap teen story.

Also, the art is better than anything I could have ever pulled off, so I was pretty pleased with that as well. Disclaimer: I’m not so sure how valid my opinion of art is.  I’m pretty easily impressed by bright colors and pretty things.  Just sayin’.

I’m currently reading book one of The Walking Dead.  Let me tell you: I love zombies.  I don’t enjoy them, or kind of find them interesting–I adore post-apocalyptic tales involving some vicious reanimated corpses.  In a small, secret part of my soul, I know I am totally ready to take on some zombies when the world ends.  I have a bat, a battle playlist on my ipod.  Danielle is SET!  However, I digress.  So far, this graphic novel has not disappointed me.  I was even a little bit nervous to go down into the basement without the lights on after finishing the first half (an excellent sign, in my opinion).  I can’t wait to read the rest of them.  I will warn readers that this series is a bit graphic and might not be appropriate for younger audiences.  For me it has the right amount of terror, gore, violence and stress to content that zombie-loving part of my soul.

After I get my hands on the latest volumes of these two series, I am going to start Y: The Last Man by Brian Vaughan and The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman (who, for those who don’t know me well, I have an author-crush on).  I can’t wait!

Extra Credit

Extra Credit

Andrew Clements

This is a children’s book about a girl who is failing school.  She is offered an extra credit assignment by her teacher in which she has to write to someone in Afghanistan.  The letter arrives, and the men of the village decide that while the best student is a boy, it would be improper for him to write to her.  Instead, his sister is chosen to write back, though he is really the one who does the writing.

I thought it was a good book.  I got through it in about a day.  The ending was realistic but not satisfying.  While I wished it would have ended differently, I don’t think I would approve of it ending any other way.  All in all?  I recommend it to those who want a quick read.  My rating is a 4/5.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Mark Zusak

What a book.  The beginning was slightly boring, but once it picked up, it really picked up.  Isn’t that the same for all books though?  I promise not to give anything away as I speak about my thoughts regarding this book.  Hopefully it isn’t too general and those who read it know what I’m talking about.

In any case, the book is about a young girl who grows up in Nazi Germany.  The story is told from Death’s perspective as he details the events of her life and the effects they have on her and those living around her.  I’ve always been a bit obsessed with the Holocaust.  I’m not quite sure why.  I suppose in a way I always expect the outcome to be different.  As unrealistic as it is, I’m always looking for the hope, love and beauty that can sometimes miraculously bloom in the darkest of times.  That is what this novel is about.  The Book Thief was very realistic and remained true to the history of Nazi Germany.  The narrator’s voice was entertaining and honest, which was sometimes painful to read.  The characters were like friends in the end.  When I had to say goodbye to them, either because they were swept away by Death or because it was time to close the back cover and replace the book on my shelf, I wept.

What a book.