Saturday, October 18, 2014
The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
The leaves are really turning this week and it's been blustery- we've had rain and leaves flying through the air and it really feels like autumn now. I didn't get very far along in my reading this week, but I like the book I'm into and hope to get to it more this week. We're not doing much this weekend- just hanging out and relaxing after a pretty hectic week.
I had two reviews go up last week, one for a book I really liked and the other was fine but wasn't really my thing. I seem to be reading (and acquiring) mysteries at the moment... I just started a new one and so far I like it a lot.
This week I'm bringing a few older reviews back to the light of day- I was looking through some older ones and trying to find any that looked like good October reads. I hope you stop by and check them out, and let me know what you think. I think there's an interesting mix...
Review: The Moment of Everything - this one was okay, didn't wow me
Review: Get Even - loved this, one of my favorite YA reads this year
Teaser Tuesday #33 Get Even
TUESDAY: Review: The Treasure of Tranicos- a short story about pirates
WEDNESDAY: Review: The Paladin Prophecy
THURSDAY: Review: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest- a girl, a magical wood and lots of cats- a perfect read for October
Teaser Tuesday #34
FRIDAY: Review: The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester- a great MG read
The Twelve Clues of Christmas- this one is for the HoHoho readathon
Yes I'm on a Christmas theme here- the last one I just liked the cover, an impulse buy. And I like that part of it is told from the cat's perspective.
Erin at Quixotic Magpie has a post on the Fall Flavors Fest she went to. Looks like fun... and great pics too.
Book Journey discusses Gone Girl- book vs. movie.
Some fun cosplay this week- Arrow (and who is the girl supposed to be?)
This seemed appropriate given all the leaves flying around here.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
The Moment of Everything was interesting for me. I went into it with high hopes, having heard good things and liking the premise (and the cover, frankly). A contemporary set in a bookstore, with a wonderfully eccentric cast of characters, and a wry, irreverent tone- sounded like a winner. So what did I think? Well, it was okay. This is a book I thought I would like a lot more than I did. I was actually a little disappointed with it, and had to struggle at times to keep going, especially in the middle.
Maggie DuPres has been laid off from her tech job at a Silicon Valley startup and now spends her days reading romance novels at the Dragonfly used bookstore. She's waiting for the next big thing to come along, but she's not trying too hard. She's actually rather enjoying days at the bookstore. Her friend Dizzy is still plugged in to the corporate scene and talks her into attending a highbrow book club meeting- the idea being for her to mingle and get back in the game. The read- Lady Chatterly's Lover. Everyone is reading the Penguin Classics edition, but Hugo, the owner of the Dragonfly, gives her a battered copy he finds in the store. Maggie starts to read it, but is surprised to find notes written in the margins-love notes from a Henry and Catherine, dating back to 1961.
The longing and emotion she finds in those notes captivates her, and she tries to find out more about them. Maggie posts some of the notes online, and before long the Dragonfly has a surge of new business. Seems that everyone wants t ocome in and share the mystery- but when new love enters Maggie's life she may find truths that ring true for her as well.
Sound wonderful, right? And it is a fine story, well written and smart. It just didn't work for me on several different levels. I thought right from the first chapter that it was a little too self- aware, like it was trying a little too hard- there are long sentences where it's almost as if the author is trying to shoehorn in as many references as possible. I did like the snippets from Henry and catherine, and enjoyed Maggie's insights into her own life and priorities as she contemplated this love affair in words. There are some touching moments, to be sure, and I did laugh at some of the references. I could even relate to Maggie's concerns, and I liked her character, for the most part, and Hugo too- but I didn't like the other characters. Even the cat wasn't very likable, frankly!
The turn that the story takes at the end salvaged it for me a bit- I liked the theme of be who you are, and could relate to Maggie as she had to choose between doing what was perhaps expected of her and who she truly anted to be. I wish I had been as invested in the whole book as I was at the tail end of it. It may just be that I'm not the target audience, or the right person for this one. I would encourage people to try it for yourself if you're interested This one was just not for me.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Get Even by Gretchen McNeil is the story of four girls- Bree, Kitty, Olivia and Margot- who take it upon themselves to mete out a little justice at their elite prep school. Bullies, mean girls, even teachers who cross the line are all potential targets. Each of the girls runs in a different social circle, but together they are a secret group called DGM- Don't Get Mad. They're sworn to secrecy and the punishments they come up with are often quite elaborate- to the point that the school administration wants to shut them down any way it can. When someone they are targeting turns up dead, with a bloody DGM calling card at the crime scene, things take a more dangerous turn. Someone is framing them for murder- someone who may know who they are.
To make matters worse, the girls start getting envelopes from an anonymous sender- each envelope contains a photo or other information about the members of DGM. Information not widely known. The envelopes threaten to expose secrets that each girl carries, secrets she has not shared with the other members of DGM- and as the stakes get higher, the girls will have to confront past indiscretions- and decide who they can trust.
Get Even was a fun read, with a fast moving plot and great characterization. Each of the girls has a distinct personality, and each brings a unique quality to the group. At the same time they only trust each other so far, and as secrets are revealed they find the bonds of trust fraying even further. Can they overcome their suspicions and find the killer before he or she strikes again? Or will they end up as targets themselves?
This was a page turner for me. There's quite a bit of suspense throughout, and a lot of characters to keep track of. I likes how the characters' pasts would often intersect and secrets would be revealed to add another layer of complexity to the story. The girls each have a compelling backstory, although I particularly liked Bree, with her caustic wit and fierce independence. She has an interesting relationship with john, her best (and pretty much only)friend who has feelings for her that go beyond friendship. He tends to quote Star Wars every chance he gets and that was a nice touch of humor throughout the story. John becomes a suspect, as do several others (including the members of DGM) and by the end of the story we still don't know the killers identity. The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger- but what an ending. I thought it was great- and fans of Star Wars will appreciate it as well.
McNeil sprinkles a few pop culture references throughout the story, and a little Shakespeare as well. The drama club is putting on a production of Twelfth Night, but with a twist- they are incorporating elements of the cult movie The Warriors into the story. Interesting combination! The performance happens at the end of the story and everything comes to a head. McNeil certainly seems to be having fun with this- and at the same time she explores issues of bullying, shaming and high school relationships in a way that rings true and that many younger readers may relate to. It's a fun, suspenseful story that takes an unflinching look at bullying and the challenges facing young people in that world we all remember- high school. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To participate you grab your current read, open to a random page and share (2) teaser sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INLUDE SPOILERS (Make sure what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others). Share the title and author.
"Try to keep up, Princess," Bree said, exasperated at Olivia's slowness. "We all got one."
Olivia looked utterly confused. "But the other day in the lighting booth you said you didn't?"
Bree shrugged. "I lied."
I thought I'd do another tease from this book this week. I finished it a few days ago and liked it a lot- and lots of quotables too!
Saturday, October 11, 2014
The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
This week was good for the most part. The leaves are turning here now and will be at peak soon- we wanted to head up north but doesn't look like we're going to make it up there. The air has cooled off and it truly feels like fall- we're in the 40's as I write this although it's a sunny day. I love the brisk air so I don't mind.
I read two books this week- The Moment of Everything and Get Even. One I really liked and the other was just okay. Both reviews will be up this week. I'm also starting to look for some holiday reads- yes I'm actually seeking out Christmas books. Mysteries for the most part. There are some fun holiday readathons and events coming up so I'm looking for ideas- any good suggestions?
Teaser Tuesday # Get Even
Sunday Post #64 October, readathons and blustery winds
Tuesday: Review: Get Even- loved it
Teaser Tuesday #33
Thursday: Review: The Moment of Everything
Murder at Mullings by Dorothy Cannell
Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lipper- Martin
If you want to see something inspiring check out this video by Time for Three. These guys performed at my kids' school this weekand they're amazing- I love the message here. Be who you are.
Jessica at Tales Between the Pages has a good Literary Lowdown this week. I especially liked the writing tips from George RR Martin and Robin Hobb.
Melissa's Mochas, Mysteries and More reviews A Midwinter's Tail.
I Wish I Lived In A Library talks Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
The Bronze Age Babies talk concerts this week.
Some fun cosplay over at the Trolldens- Kim Possible.
Oh, and I rediscovered this song this week too. always liked how low key it is.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Insurgent was an interesting read for me. I saw Divergent before reading the book and was curious to see where things would go next- and I was curious to see what was outside the fence. I thought after seing the movie and reading the book that Tris and Four were heading out there -so when they returned to the city almost immediately I was a little disappointed, but still interested enough to see where Veronica Roth was taking hers tory.
After the events of Divergent, Tris and Four are on the run- and headed to the compound of the Amity faction. It was interesting to me that the Amity are outside the fence, and yet apparently don't venture too far? After all, we find out next to nothing about the outside world. After finding the Amity to be less than helpful, and facing attack by the Dauntless sent to capture them, they flee back to the city. Once there, they meet up with the factionless and their leader Evelyn- who has a surprising connection. From there the struggle against the Erudite heats up, old friends and enemies come and go, and we learn a little more about the factions and their reasons for existing.
I didn't really understand why they went back to the city. It seems like it would have been safer to go away somewhere, maybe far away- and that way we would get to see what's outside the city too. We quickly learn, however, that the battle against Erudite will be the defining feature of the book- and Tris and Four must navigate a minefield of obstacles if they are to survive and learn the truth about their society, and perhaps themselves.
This almost felt like a tour of the factions at times- first we get Amity, then the factionless and even Candor to round things out. The questions raised by the differing goals are the most interesting part of this series. At the same time everyone appears pretty ruthless- Jeanine especially, who never seems to have much nuance. We know she has motivations and goals, but we never really find out what they are. She has no problem with violence on a mass scale, and without knowing what drives her it's hard to see her as more than a two dimensional character. The other faction leaders are not much better- even the factionless. Evelyn apparently also is okay with violence to achieve her ends, Are there any good or inspiring leaders among these people? So far- not really.
I did like that Tori played a prominent role, but then at the end she turns and basically wants to deal harshly with Tris- are any of these people worth anything? I don't understand why Tris doesn't tell Four that she shot , why she thinks he will judge her. After all, he goes around shooting people left and right. The drama just seems artificial, like it was too much after a while- I mean, could Tris and Four keep any more secrets? I like it when characters communicate, talk to each other, as I've said in other reviews- if you have to manufacture drama and lovers' quarrels by keeping secrets every five minutes, I get so tired of that. That got a little old for me in this book. And Four, who I liked a lot in the first book (and the movie), was a little irritating- not always telling Tris what he was planning, and seeming rather naive about Evelyn and the machinations behind the scenes.
Having said all that, I did enjoy Insurgent. It's not perfect, and is perhaps too long- after all the whole book is primarily the struggle against Erudite, and not a lot happens relative t opage count- but I kept turning the pages and I was curious to see where things were going. I thought at times there was a bit of a Christian theme, with the exploration of whether man can be good. She also explores the basis of personality- are we just a result of synapses firing, or is there more to us than that? The best science fiction makes us think even as we are entertained, and Roth makes us think just enough. The ending is a cliffhanger and I definitly will continue reading to see the conclusion- how could I not after that ending? And after all, I still need to find out what's outside the fence.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Blackbird by Anna Carey is a story about a girl on the run. She wakes up on the train tracks at a subway station, with no memory of who she is or how she got there. Next to her is a knapsack with a thousand dollars and a note telling her not to contact the police. And she has a tattoo of a blackbird on her right wrist. As she struggles to find out who she is where she comes from, she finds herself the target of someone trying to kill her. She meets a boy named Ben who tries to help her, and she finds safety for a while- he names her Sunny, half in jest due to her personality, as she doesn't even know her name- but always they seem to find her, people who are hunting her- but to what purpose?
She calls a number in the knapsack and is told to go to a location- but when she gets there she finds herself framed for a crime. Now she truly is on the run- from the police as well as from the mysterious people hunting her. She finds herself being followed, but when a woman is about to kill her, the man following her saves her life. What does it all mean? The action escalates from there and Sunny has to find a way to stay alive.
Blackbird was a good, fast read. The story is told in a second person perspective, and while some reviewers have taken exception to that, it didn't both me at all. I got used to it right away and it didn't distract from my enjoyment of the story. The story itself has a bit of a Jason Bourne feel to it- Sunny just instinctively knows how to do certain things, like breaking a lock or disarming someone- and always she is on the run, having to outwit her shadowy pursuers. She starts to get snippets of memory, flashbacks and clues to her past as the hunt intensifies- but will Sunny survive long enough to learn the truth?
I liked the book for the most part. I did have a hard time suspending my disbelief at times. Sunny mostly makes good decisions, but there is one she makes at the end that I didn't understand (spoilers below). And the ending is rather abrupt- not only is nothing resolved, but there's a twist that just seems unrealistic. Even so, I liked this story a lot and am anxious for the next one.
I found the subplot with Celia Alvarez to be interesting I just don't see Celia helping her that way, even though I was glad she did. Towards the end, when Sunny shoots Goss -i was surprised she didn't at least knock him out. Granted Izzy had just been shot, and she wanted to get her away, but leaving Goss free to come after her just seems like a bad decision. And if she can call to report Izzy being shot, shouldn't she just call Celia- the only one she trusts?