Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Girl with Glass FeetThe Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This wasn't a bad book, it was actually pretty well-written style-wise, but going simply by what the designated stars mean it was simply "OK" for me.

The side characters were never really fleshed out enough for me. Their side stories never quite fit with the main one, and didn't seem to add much to the actual narrative other than their existence. None of them help Midas or Ida in any tangible way, aside from Gustav (quite literally) at the end. Ida and Midas are simply existing in this sea of people who don't like other people and have nothing to give. Any back story that was included, and any tangents the author went into were never completed or given relevance that met my expectations.

Ida and Midas as characters aren't exactly the most shining examples of human beings, but at least Midas gets a bit of a personality "expansion" by the end. I guess you could say that was the book's one saving grace.

I was moved by the end, but that was the only part that made me feel anything besides indifference. And the only reason I felt something was because (view spoiler).

I closed the book feeling unsatisfied. Perhaps it was because I was expecting a bit more magic (you know, aside from people turning to glass), a bit more folklore, a bit more of something else that this book just wasn't. But it felt like there was so much more that needed to be said, while the author may have been valuing brevity of sorts rather than developing the narrative.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review: The Great Lenore

The Great LenoreThe Great Lenore by J.M. Tohline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm torn on this book. It's written very well, but it's also pretty short, and not entirely a great read. I felt rushed through, and I felt like the relationships were formed so quickly and then lost again. The overwhelming high-society attitudes of some of the characters combined with the narrator's not-so-opulent background didn't seem to be as much of a gap for him to bridge as I would imagine it to be. I also didn't really get to know Lenore, and why everyone loved her so much, aside from the fact that she was "perfect" in almost every way. That doesn't tell me much about her, and her back-story didn't really either. It was also mentioned that she was brilliant and funny and entrancing. I didn't really see that expressed, the reader is simply told and expected to believe. That didn't sit so well with me.

But the story was interesting, and the pace kept me going, so while I didn't love it I did like it, and for that it gets 3 stars.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Review: Oath of Servitude

Oath of Servitude (The Punishment Sequence # 1)Oath of Servitude by C.E. Wilson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

[Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.]

Firstly, my apologies to the author, who graciously sent me a copy of this book five or so months ago and I never got around to reading it. In truth, I started it right away but couldn't get into it. I decided to give it another go this week and finally it's finished.

For me, this book was only "OK." It needs some major proof reading considering the grammar and sentence structure are a bit messy. There is also soooooooo muuuuuuuuch repetition, in one page a character might say the same thing three or four times. It's not very realistic when you're thinking of the flow of a conversation.

The opening starts to bring up alcoholism, but it's never named and never really addressed. Teague's drinking is a huge factor in his actions, but no one ever brings up the fact that he's essentially turned himself into a raging alcoholic, and his father even provides the booze for him while at the same time asking him how long he plans on being an alcoholic. That part was unbelievable to me. Cailin's arrival seems to miraculously turn him around within days to the point where he only drinks once around her and immediately regrets it, and even agrees to go to therapy. I've never heard of an alcoholic behaving that way before. Again, not realistic.

It was pretty obvious from the start that Cailin and Teague would bond and eventually fall in love, but I thought it felt a bit rushed.

The last thing is, this book raises more questions than it answers. I am of the opinion that by the end of a book, at least some of the questions it has raised should have answers. At the end of this book, there are zero answers, and only more questions. What IS the Darkness? Why does Lennox hate the Willows? Why have Owen and Nolkrin remained friends so long? What are the secrets Nolkrin is keeping from his daughters? Why are the pixis so against doing anything even remotely logical? I mean, Rinoa gets arrested for planning a trip to make sure her sister is all right. Does that mean that it's illegal to leave the pixi settlement? Or that it's illegal to get near humans? Or that it's illegal to have secret meetings with friends? Cailin is sent away presumably (since this is the only explanation we ever get) because she wears different colored clothing than other pixis and isn't meek and submissive. Huh?

At only 157 pages of story, this is more of a novella than a book. But even novellas have the space to explain, and answer some of the lingering questions, or reveal some secrets, or something. I would like to see this go to a professional editor, and have some length added to it in order to make it feel more like a complete work. Unfortunately at this point, it's more of a work in progress.

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review: Cress

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Cress by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

****Just a quick little note to say that this is book THREE in a series, so if you haven't read books ONE and TWO you might want to not read this review.****

I *really* love this series. I know there are people out there who think it's dumb YA SF, but I really love almost everything about it. Kai is kind of the only one I don't like, simply because he's a dud of a character. Just sits back and takes it. He wants to do the right thing for his country but doesn't really know how. He isn't ready to be emperor, and I get that he was thrown into it unexpectedly, but it is still his role and he's not doing a very good job of it. Plus, he's pretty dense. But other than that, this is great. Cress is a funny character, albeit naive (what else do you expect? She was kept prisoner on a satellite for 7 years or something like that). And her "romance" with Thorne is pretty cute. Marissa Meyer knows how to write romance (better than Veronica Roth anyway).

For some reason I thought this was the end of the series, but it's not, so yay there's more!

(I sort of turn back into a teenager when I read this stuff. Kind of irritating, but the series is just so good!)

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: The Abominable

The AbominableThe Abominable by Dan Simmons
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was certainly not at all what I had expected. I admit to hoping, perhaps naively, for more of the on-the-edge-of-your-seat reading that was present in The Terror but was a bit underwhelmed by the suspense of this story. Almost half the book was spent in preparation for the group's trip to Everest, and they didn't get there until about 47% of the way in. By that point I was somewhere around 300 pages in, and felt the story hadn't even started yet. I was exhausted! He's usually much better at moving the plot forward, but this story lagged.

If you're going into The Abominable expecting a monster book or a horror book or even something science-fiction-y, you're going to be disappointed. It was none of those, really. And that's not a bad thing, but it certainly cut back a bit on my enjoyment.

Overall, this is a great novel. It's not my favorite, nor is it his best, but I'm not going to knock it for what it is. The only reason it's getting three instead of four stars is because I personally didn't find it as thrilling as other books of his that I've read.

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Book Haul

Via Instagram
Yesterday I went gift-carding, a.k.a. shopping with gift cards.  I knew I only had $20 to Barnes & Noble, but I also knew I wanted three specific books, so I figured what the heck and got all three.

Last night I started Allegiant, but I wish I'd re-read Insurgent first.  Oh well, already on my way!

This is probably my first "major" book haul in a while, even if it's only three books.  I've been swapping at BooksFreeSwap and getting single books here and there when something comes up, but otherwise I haven't been really shopping for any books since probably my birthday (the last time I had major gift-cardage and could buy a lot).  It feels goooooooood to have brand new books in my hands.

Once I had all three in my hands I decided I needed to check out or I'd spend a lot more than intended.  I did look around the media section but not for long.  I didn't even let myself get a peek at the F/SF section.  The Abominable was still up as new, even though it came out in October.  I guess that's still new.  I was just happy to see it getting some serious shelf space.  I'm about 40% of the way through at the moment, and they still haven't even gotten to Everest yet.  I'm kind of tapping my foot, waiting waiting waiting.  It's a long set-up.

When was the last time you had a somewhat major haul?  What did you buy?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Follow...Tuesday?

Are you a blogger?  Do you update frequently (as in more than once a month)?  Leave a comment here with your blog URL and I would be happy to feature it in my "Recommended Blogs" section on the sidebar.  See it?  It's just over there to your right, and down a bit.  It doesn't even have to be about books, it can be whatever you blog about.  Kids, movies, food, the neighbor you're stalking...

I just culled a bunch of blogs that haven't been updated in over a year.  If you're active and would like some linkage, just let me know.  I would appreciate it if you would follow me in return.

I'm also thinking about doing a bi-weekly (as in every two weeks, not twice a week) or once a month blog feature, of a blog I especially enjoy.  So this is your shot at getting me interested!  I know I don't have a huge readership, but every little bit helps, right?

Review: City of Bones

Before I get started, I'll just put this out there: I'm sure that this review will be none too popular, as evidenced by the number of people who absolutely loved the series and the other negative reviews on Goodreads that have received a multitude of trolls and nasty comments.  Please keep in mind, this is MY opinion of MY reading of this book, and while that doesn't automatically make me wrong, you have every right to dismiss it and move along.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh dear.

The cover should have been a warning. Stephanie Meyer wants to live in this world. Yep, it's going to be bad.

Just a few examples of how bad the writing was (maybe a little spoilery after this point):

(Referring to Magnus the warlock) "Clary guessed from the curve of his sleepy eyes and the gold tone of his evenly tanned skin that he was part Asian." (p. 219)

"Under the skirt of her short green dress her feet were webbed like a frog's." (p.221) - How would her feet be under the skirt of a short dress? Did she have no calves?

"I think she just didn't want me to get too far away from her. My mom, I mean. After my dad died she changed a lot." (p. 311) - BUT HER DAD DIED BEFORE SHE WAS BORN!!!!! How would she know what her mom was like before then?!

Also, Magnus, the gold-colored part-Asian named his cat Chairman Meow.

Valentine is a play on Voldemort (seriously, and any other villain who isn't actually dead or destroyed and comes back to wreak havoc). And Clary is stubborn and stupid and always takes things at face value instead of actually THINKING about them. She immediately believes whatever anyone tells her. Then when someone tells her that what she was told was a lie, she immediately believes THAT person instead. By the end of the book, I was so confused as to who was telling the truth and who was lying that it was a wonder she believed anything at all (which she did) and that she was even still alive considering how many people died to keep her safe. She's also completely useless, can't do much of anything defense-wise (just stands there and screams most of the time, except the time she threw a dagger at a werewolf, but that was mostly a gut reaction - here's a knife, there's a werewolf coming after me, I'm going to throw it and hope it hits something). She's torn between two guys and can't make a decision as to how she feels about them, OH NO!

Poorly written, the story was not great, and the character development was pretty non-existent. This book gets a D-. One extra star for Luke, and Simon, the only two worthwhile characters in the book.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: The Almond Tree

The Almond TreeThe Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.]

This novel really moved me, but having read books (mostly fiction) on both sides of the conflict I don't feel I am qualified to determine whether the political facts are correct. I appreciated the idea that to make peace we must work for peace with others.

The story itself was very compelling, moving forward in spurts and moving years in seconds. That was the only problem I had with it - years would pass without a mention and suddenly our main character is in college, and then in his 60s, and you have to wonder where the time went. I liked having the years in front of the sections, but even within those sections years would go by in a handful of pages without any real acknowledgment.

I was on the fence about reading this and I'm really glad I won a copy because I never would have bought it on my own. Recommended to those who are interested in reading about the conflicts in the Middle East.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: Three Souls

Three Souls: A NovelThree Souls: A Novel by Janie Chang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

[Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.]

I don't even know where to start with my review. This book was downright fantastic, hands-down the single best First Reads win I've ever received. There are 496 pages in the book and I read almost 400 of them in one day. I never do that!

I adored the main character, through all her faults and inability to understand she was dealing with things that were much too adult for her. Her character in death was beautifully contemplative and I loved how she was able to see, along with the reader, the impulse of youth contrasted with the reflection of consequences. We all forget, as teenagers, that our actions have repercussions. Even in our adult life it's hard to picture what will happen if we make this decision or that one. In death we are able to see exactly how everything Leiyin did in her youth contributed to the events around her, even without her knowledge or comprehension.

I did not imagine Hanchin to be the character he ended up as. It was an interesting turn to experience the realization of his true character alongside the woman who loved him.

The only thing I didn't fully connect with was the idea of three souls. It certainly was a great thing to have the commentary of each different personality throughout the book, encouraging Leiyin, reproaching her, understanding and commiserating with her, and telling her flat-out she was wrong. I loved having them around, but it was difficult (for me personally) to tell the souls apart, and I often found myself reading them as pretty much a single character. I also did not quite follow with the tastes and smells that they projected onto her, as I don't know what most of them meant. Maybe this is something that would be better understood by someone with Chinese heritage.

The writing style was exceptional, the language was poetic and flowed so easily that it was difficult to stop reading once I'd started. You might think that a book that's almost 500 pages long might be wordy, and it was, but in a way completely necessary to tell the story. Chinese culture and traditions were explained so well they felt familiar to me. I could picture the landscapes and gardens and houses (I'm sure I got them wrong but the point is I could see them in my head), the parties and offices and even the most downright heartbreaking things. I felt along with Leiyin, and experienced her emotions and mourned with her when things went badly. I never felt like a word was out of place. (Also, thumbs up to whoever edited this proof copy - I only caught ONE typo!)

If you liked Snow Flower and the Secret Fan or any other Lisa See novel, this one is a must-read and something you will not regret picking up. What a beautifully told story. This is going to stay with me, I can tell.

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