Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – A Book Review

A friend on GoodReads recommended this book to me, so I thought I’d give it a shot.  Honestly, I told him I wanted something really short that I could read quickly.

In that regard, Every Heart a Doorway is a raging success.

The concept of the book is fascinating.  We’ve all heard of those kids in stories who visit other realms, worlds, or dimensions.  This book deals with what happens when they come home … but want to go back.

It also delves into the fabric of each kind of world that exists beyond.  Because the story takes place at a school, there is some explanation as to the general laws and rules of each world the various children have visited.  Again, this is a very cool concept.

My only complaint is that the actual plot did not spark my interest all that much.  I adored the idea of dissatisfied travelers who want nothing more than to go back to their fantasy world.  I also love the idea of trying to categorize each world in an effort to force some semblance of sense upon them.

The story, though, is primarily about a series of grotesque murders occurring on the school grounds.  Something of a mystery ensues revolving around the fact that very specific parts of bodies are being taken from each victim.

Furthermore, there’s plenty of teenage angst in the dialogue.  Lots of feeling shunned and out of place.  During those moments, it became obvious I am not the target audience for this book.

However, I appreciated the quick pace, the vivid descriptions, and the very imaginative concepts.

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Star Wars: The Weapon Of a Jedi by Jason Fry – A Book Review

Set after A New Hope, this Luke Skywalker young adult novel is a fast-paced read that takes no time at all to finish.

Luke becomes distracted during a mission as The Force pushes him to investigate strange ruins.  If you ever wondered what circumstances led Luke to master his lightsaber, this is the book for you!

It’s fun reading a book dedicated solely to Luke, and it offers insight into the noble man behind the myth.  We even encounter a new antagonist called the Scavenger (who has already received his own action figure).

The Weapon of a Jedi is helpful in that is helps explain Luke’s path to becoming an actual Jedi, but it also lays the groundwork to future story lines, particularly in regards to the ruins he discovers.  I have to wonder if there is a direct connection between these ruins and Luke’s personal quest in the graphic novel Shattered Empire which impacts Shara Bey, mother of The Force Awakens’ Poe Dameron …


Star Wars: Smuggler’s Run by Greg Rucka

For a book featuring a character called “Solo,” Han doesn’t have as big of a role as you may expect.

Set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, Han Solo agrees to take on just one more mission for the rebels at the behest of Princess Leia.  He’s tasked with rescuing a rebel named Ematt, one that may play a role in The Force Awakens.  Of course, it’s not long until Han finds himself at odds with a group of bounty hunters and the Empire itself.

Rucka perfectly captures the essence of Han Solo.  Charismatic but not always nice, this Solo hearkens back to the anti-hero of A New Hope.  Best of all, Rucka’s Chewbacca is a noble, trustworthy individual that operates as Solo’s conscience throughout the novel, as well as comedic relief.  There’s a reason we love this duo, and Rucka understands their dynamic masterfully.

I noted that there simply isn’t enough Solo in this solo adventure, and that’s because the chapters alternate between Han and an Imperial villain named Alecia Beck.  She is a commanding officer, merciless, and willing to do virtually anything to reach her objectives.  She stars in roughly 50% of the book, which makes me wonder if somewhere down the road she’s going to be a major player.  Perhaps one of the spin-off movies?  Maybe some future books or graphic novels? Only time will tell.

Because this is a young adult novel, it is incredibly fast-paced and short.  However, Rucka writes everything well, from novels to comic books to young adult books.  Star Wars fans of any age will appreciate this book and Han Solo fans will love it.  It’s definitely worth the brief amount of time it takes to read.

It’s Kind Of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini – A Book Review

I’ve seen It’s Kind Of a Funny Story on several must-read lists, especially those aimed at young adults.  I must admit that when I learned of the book’s plot, as well as the author’s unfortunate passing, well, it was with morbid fascination that I finally sat down to read it.

The premise is sadly common.  A teenage boy named Craig becomes overwhelmed by the demands of life, particularly his rigorous school, and decides to take his own life.  He finds his way into a psychiatric ward, and there he finally meets people with whom he can relate.  Though only required to stay for a short while, the fifteen year old recognizes his issues, has an epiphany on how to manage them, and leaves the ward on a happy note.

Of course, this is oversimplifying everything about the book.  The important thing to note is that Vizzini truly captures the essence of depression, he creates real characters, he expertly draws out various emotions, and, in the end, he provides hope to both Craig and the reading audience.

This book is sad, it is funny, it is uncomfortable, it is affirming, it is real, it is life.  No matter what your age, I highly recommend it.


In the Shadows by White and Di Bartolo – A Book Review

Believe it or not, I saw In the Shadows in a Scholastic book order and thought that it both looked and sounded very cool.  Several of my high school students did, too.  A few ordered it and I got a copy for my classroom, and we’re all very pleased with the read!

In the Shadows is unique in that it alternates between a prose chapter and then a wordless sequential art chapter.  Though the alternating story lines are clearly interconnected, it isn’t until the end of the book that the reader realizes exactly how so.

I’m a fairly well-read individual, and I must admit that the ending actually surprised me.  I wasn’t totally clear on the chronological ordering of the alternating chapters, but by the end of the book it all made sense.

Kiersten White handled the prose, which is about two brothers, one of whom is dying, that come to a little Maine town to get away from the city life.  Little do they know their father has actually set them up for sacrifice while there to a demonic cult.  At their boarding house, the daughters of the owner befriends the brothers, and they have their own history with a local witch.  The daughters have a guardian, Arthur, who may be their brother, perhaps a cousin, or maybe he isn’t related to them at all.  He watches over them, though, and when the brothers and sisters get themselves into trouble, Arthur must decide how far he’s willing to go to protect them.

The sequential art chapters are handled by Jim Di Bartolo, and they feature a young man with a scar under his eye both chasing and being hunted by what we presume is the same demonic cult.  We learn he is not just any man, though, as he displays characteristics resembling the very villains he pursues.  The art is edgy, dynamic, and does an excellent job clearly progressing the story.  And while it’s not immediately evident how it connects to the Maine story, it becomes more and more obvious the deeper you get into the book.

Though a fast read, In the Shadows is incredibly satisfying.  Furthermore, I wouldn’t say it presents a story that is entirely fresh, but even so, it struck me as both unique and imaginative – thanks in large part to the wordless sequential art.

Aimed at young adults, I think book lovers of any age would find In the Shadows an interesting read, especially if interested in horror, graphic novels, or the supernatural.