August 21, 2014

Bout of Books 11 Update

Bout of Books

Books Read: 1
Pages Read: 364
Total number of books read: 1
Total number of pages read: 364
Thoughts: I read the Looking Glass Wars today; click on the link to view the review.

Books Read:2
Pages Read: 624
Total number of books read: 3
Total number of pages read: 988
Thoughts: I read The Dark Hills Divide and The Key to Rondo.  I enjoyed them both; click on the links to go to the reviews.

Books Read: 2
Pages Read: 725
Total number of books read: 5
Total number of pages read: 1713
Thoughts: Today I read The Bad Beginning and Grave Mercy.  I enjoyed them both, but Grave Mercy is absolutely the best book I have read thus far.  Ah-May-zing.  Click on the links to go to the reviews.
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As a reminder, these are my goals:

Goal One:
Read.  I sometimes get a bit obsessive about my other hobbies- currently I am drowning in fabric.  This is the perfect excuse to put away my projects and read.  
Goal Two:
Read early.  I have a terrible habit of NOT reading because I am worried about reading too much (as if that actually was a thing…). When I was reading a book a day I would start the book immediately when I got home from work so I finished it around 9 or 10pm.  This way I could go to bed at a reasonable hour.  If I start a book at bedtime there will not BE a bedtime…
Goal Three:
Read for fun! Not really an actual goal.  I love reading, so most reading is fun.  But I have a bunch of books here I have always wanted to read but just never set aside the time to actually DO it.  I’m excited to have the excuse now.
Goal Four:
Get one other person to join me on at least one of the days.  I have three potential people whom I have recruited for this task. 
One- my mother.  My mom has always been the Oprah’s List kinda woman.  But recently she has strayed into the YA magical realm.  She enjoyed Divergent, loves Twilight and the Host, the Hunger Games…basically all books I think are ehhhhh, but still progress!  I gave her a list of books to read.  Mostly she has only vaguely liked them, but next up is The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson.  It’s Sanderson.  How could she possibly dislike it?  I am hoping she will sit down and read with me one night.
Two and Three- Two and Three are very dear friends who adore reading as much (maybe more) as I do.   We used to have a book club where we would discuss books together.  This has fallen apart, much to my sadness, but I am hoping we can get on Hangout to discuss some of the stuff we have read this week.  I also would like to feature a book review of theirs on my blog at one point…maybe this week!
Goal Five:
Read six books.  I know I am way too busy to have kept up the book a day thing, but still I am very sad that I was not able to keep up my goal of 364 books in a year.  So to honor that, I would like to stretch for at least six books.  Hopefully seven to complete the week, but life happens, so I am going to make the minimum six.

Grave Mercy

It is rare, I think, to have a beginning this powerful.  And thus, I would like to post it.
Please, if you are under 18 or do not want to read a violent scene, do not read on.

And thus begins the awesome tale, and the last time our protagonist is a trembling thing without power.

It has been a long time since a book has captivated me this fully.  Intrigue, betrayal, murder, love, action- this book has it all.  The book is about assassin nuns dedicated to the god of Death after all, how can it NOT be amazing?!  Let me just say that again, in case you missed it-

I loved Isme.  There are characters who claim how bad ass they are- like the Girl in the Steel Corset, and then there are BAD ASS protagonists.  Isme was the later.  She uses a garotte for goodness sake!

A garotte.  

Garottes are not like shooting someone with a gun, or stabbing them a few times.  They mean business.  They mean your hands are going to get dirty. 

Favorite line: “Are men truly such idiots that they cannot resist two orbs of flesh?”  Yep- that's a boob reference.

But here are some of my other favorite gems:

“I stare at him coldly. "I do not care for needlework." I pause. "Unless it involves the base of the skull.” 

"I comfort myself with the knowledge that if Duval ever feels smothered by me, it will be because I am holding a pillow over his face and commending his soul to Mortain.”

Historical accuracy:
I did a happy dance during this book.  Not only was it AWESOME, but the historical elements didn't make me want to pitch it off a cliff.  How often do I say that?  Not often.  Thank you thank you thank you Robin LaFevers.  Thank you for not putting your heroine in a ridiculous modern couture dress.  Just. Thank you.

I love the cover, don't get me wrong.  But I love this one even more-
 The dress isn't as historically accurate, but I love the FEEL of this one so much more.  The grays, the fierce look on her face?  It's perfection.  Wish they had chosen this mock up instead of the red one, because when you compare the real cover art with this art, the real cover just looks so...YA fluff. 

This book absolutely wins a 5 of 5 rating. 

August 20, 2014

The Bad Beginning

Well…I was warned.  Did I listen?  No.  It was so short a book I ended up finishing it on my lunch break, I didn’t really have a chance to give up on it.

Was it good?  Sort of.
Did I enjoy it?  Not really.

I have seen the movie, which may be part of the problem.  I knew exactly what to expect, what was going on, what would happen.  But the book is darker.  Much, much darker.  Jim Carey presents a weird, creepy, greedy Count Olaf.  The real Count Olaf is the worst of the worst.  Abuse, stealing, child rape (hinted at), murder, plus a general creepiness.  And that is just Olaf.  Some of his friends were as bad as he was.

I will not be continuing with the rest of the series.  One book was enough for me. 

What I liked?  I liked the children.  They were strong in the face of so much opposition.  They were smart and interesting.  A girl who likes mechanical engineering?  She automatically makes the awesome list. 

I would give this 4 stars for the writing, the writing was awesome.  I think Lemony Snicket is a great writer, but I just can’t give such a depressing book a 4.  So I will give it a 3.

The Dark Hills Divide

I liked this book, but it had some major problems.

World building.  I totally get how this happens because it happens in my own writing, but I couldn’t feel the world very well.  Carman does a great job of detailing the wall and how it was built, but we never really get a glimpse of the city.  We don’t see the bustling streets, or people at all.  Where are the other children?  Where are the other adults?  They don’t exist for us because we don’t ever see them.  I wanted to believe that the world we were in was huge.  Four HUGE walled cities all connected.  But I couldn’t.  It felt more like Alexa’s house was the only house in the city.

Alexa is chosen for a special task that no one else can do.  She is told not to tell anyone.  So when she comes in she immediately decides not to trust the cats who have given her no reason not to trust them.  From some very vague dialogue she decides the cats are traitors.  I couldn’t see what in the cats’ dialogue told her that.

THEN she goes and tells everyone and their brother the things she isn’t supposed to tell anyone.  What?  Were you born with even half a brain?  Irritated me so much. 

What I loved:

The pacing.  The pacing of this book was fantastic.  I was enthralled the entire time.  The scene where she and a chipmunk have to steal the special collar from one of the cats was awesome.

Mystery.  For most of the book I was kept guessing who Sebastian was, though I think Carman was a bit heavy handed with his hints at the end. 

This quote:  “The size of your body is just right. The only question is whether you're big enough inside.”  Only a wise bear could make such an announcement.
I will be reading the rest of the books.  This first installment in the series gets 4 stars.

The Key to Rondo

I love Emily Rodda.  I devoured her Deltora Quest books when I was little.  I loved them so much I started reading them aloud to my two little brothers.  We got through 4 of the books before they became “too old” to be read to.

I really should re-read the series now that I am older, just to see if I still love it as much.  But since I am on the topic, I’d like to show off the beautiful cover art of the series.  AWESOME.

If those covers don't shout: READ ME!  I don't know what does.
I was nervous to read this book, thinking it wouldn’t live up to my love for her other series.  I had nothing to be worried about.  The Key to Rondo was AMAZING.  

Let’s just talk about this bit of text:
“There are three rules to the old painted, music box: 
Wind the box three times only. 
Never shut the box when the music is playing. 
Never move the box before the music stops.”

Um.  Brilliant.  This one section does SO much.  The reader asks why- why does this beautiful, mysterious music box have such rules?  The reader also knows that one of the main characters is going to break the rules.  And immediately the reader wants to read the book.  Or at least, this reader did.

It was very reminiscent of The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis, but SO much better.  That is saying a lot, because I adore The Magician’s Nephew.

A full five stars for an AWESOME book.  I will most definitely be reading book two and three.

The Looking Glass Wars

 I really liked the book.  It was exciting; had a very Tim Burton feel to it.  But it also had some parts I felt were really lacking.  I think with a few hundred extra pages it could have been amazing and the problems I detail below could have been fixed.

Alyss vs Alice.
One of the things that really bothered me in this book was when the tudor to the Lidells asks Alyss to write her name on the board.  Alyss had raised her hand and clarified that her name was not spelled like that, so the tudor offers her a chance to correct it.  But when Alyss respells it ‘Alyss’ the tudor yells at her and makes her write on the board ‘Alice’ 100 times.
If the teacher was not going to believe her about a different spelling, why did she say Alyss could correct it in the first place?  

The Looking Glass Maze.
What the heck was the point of this part?  This was the crucial part in the hero’s journey when they learn to use their unique skills, but I didn’t feel like Alyss actually learned to DO anything.  She just sees some visions that she has to finally decide are not real, and learn to control her temper, and suddenly she is a bad-ass, imagination wielding warrior princess?
No.  Just. No.

Young Alyss and old Alyss.
My biggest complaint with this book was that I didn’t really like Alyss.  I liked her when she was young.  She had spunk, she used her imagination naughtily.  But as soon as she turns into Alice I just disliked her.  Boring boring boring.  When she came back to Wonderland she was whiny.  And then she went through the maze and she was much too powerful.  Must refer Frank Beddor to Sanderson’s rules of magic.  THERE HAVE TO BE LIMITATIONS!  Otherwise the characters just get boring.

I enjoyed the secondary characters  much more than the primary characters.  Dodge seemed like the only character (after Alyss became Alice) who was developed well.

I would give this a 3 star rating, but because it did do a good job of capturing my attention and the illustrations were beautiful- I will give it a 3.5 rating.