Friday, April 26, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Invention of Hugo Cabret {by Brian Selznick}

Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

With 284 pictures between the book's 533 pages, the book depends equally on its pictures as it does on the actual words. Selznick himself has described the book as "not exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel, or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things." The Caldecott Medal is for picture books, in 2008 this was first novel to receive.The primary inspiration is the true story of turn-of-the-century French pioneer filmmaker Georges Méliès, his surviving films, and his collection of mechanical, wind-up figures called automata. Selznick decided to add automata to the storyline after reading Edison's Eve by Gaby Wood, which tells the story of Edison's attempt to create a talking wind-up doll.Méliès actually had a set of automata, which were either sold or lost. At the end of his life Méliès was broke, even as his films were screening widely in the United States. He did work in a toy booth in a Paris railway station, hence the setting. Selznick drew Méliès's real door in the book.

This book is, frankly, quite amazing. Simply put, it's a picture book for big kids (and adults). Selznick so beautifully tells the story not only with words, but with hand-drawn pictures, as well as with some snapshots from the original Georges Méliès' films. 

The story is about a boy named Hugo, who lives in the apartments above a railway station in Paris. His father has died and his uncle abandoned him, so he is all alone. Before he disappeared, his uncle used to wind up all the clocks in the station, and taught Hugo how to do so as well. So that no one finds out that the young boy lives by himself, Hugo continues his uncle's work and keeps hidden.

Hugo also kept his father's old journals, and is secretly continuing a project of his father's: fixing an automaton. Hugo has been stealing parts from a toy booth at the station, when one day, he gets caught by the old man who runs the station. The old man sees his journal of the drawings of the automaton, and takes it, although he acts quite strange about it. Hugo then enlists the help of the old man's granddaughter to get his book back and figure out how everything is connected.

The story itself is light, humorous, and not hard to read at all. Instead, the very essence of the novel is the pictures. Detailed and intricate, they tell the story way better than it could have ever been told with just words. Although not all books could be written in this fashion, somehow, it just works with this one.


Brian Selznick:

Website | Goodreads


Friday, April 19, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

Clockwork Princess {by Cassandra Clare}

Title: Clockwork Princess
Author: Cassandra Clare
Series: the Infernal Devices, book 3
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Tessa Gray should be happy - aren't all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa's heart, will do anything to save her.

Soo this review may be a bit biased, because this is one of my all-time favorite series. I'm not going to review every book in the series separately, so this is going to be a review of the series, specifically focusing on Clockwork Princess. 

The Infernal Devices is set in the same Shadowhunter world as Clare's first series, the Mortal Instruments. It follows the story of Will Herondale, Jem Carstairs, and Tessa Gray. Tessa comes over to London from America after the death of her aunt, to be with her brother. Instead of her brother, she is kidnapped by the Gray sisters, who torture her, trying to get her to show some power she doesn't know she has. She is rescued by Will Herondale, who then takes her to the Shadowhunter Institute in London. There she meets the head of the Institutre, Charlotte Branwell and her husband Henry, as well as the other residents: Jem Carstairs, and Jessamine Lovelace. Suddenly, Tessa is thrust into a world she never knew existed: one of Nephilim, warlocks, vampires, faeries, and who-knows-what-else. Tessa soon finds that she is a warlock, and an unusual one at that. She also finds out that the Sisters kidnapped her by order of someone called Mortmain. To the dismay of the rest of the Shadowhunter world, Mortmain has created a set of clockwork automaton to destroy the Shadowhunters.


Unsure as to what I can say without spoiling anything in the first two books for new readers, I will just say that Cassandra Clare is an excellent writer. She sucks you in from the first page, creating a whole new world with just words. The characters are relate-able  lovable, and realistic. You empathize, sympathize, grieve, rejoice, and celebrate with these characters. With some surprising twists and loops that you never saw coming, the series is filled with just the right amount of action, adventure, and romance.

As objectively as I can say this... Clockwork Princess was the most beautiful conclusion to a series I have ever read. And I've read a lot of books. And I say this with all seriousness. Not only did Clare end the series in such a perfect way as to ensure that no character got left out of their ending, she ended the love triangle in such a perfect way, that neither boy was thrown aside or "lost out". I almost have no words to say to describe how completely in love I am with this book.

I know that, as a "fangirl" of this series, you may hesitate to wonder why you should take my word seriously. But stop and think about it. There has to be a reason I fangirl over it, right? It's not just for Team Jem or Team Will (although that doesn't hurt...). The series is so beautifully written, as to be riveting in all the right parts. If you are someone who doesn't read much, or at all, I sincerely suggest giving this series a try.




Cassandra Clare:

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