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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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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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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Review: Despair: Servant of the Fates

Despair: Servant of the FatesDespair: Servant of the Fates by Val Panesar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

[Disclaimer: I was provided a free Kindle copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

Firstly, I must apologize to the author for taking so long to read this. My review should have been done in October, early November at the latest, but some other things came up, and reading on my phone is difficult. But I'm done, finally, and now to the review.

Despair is the first in a series of books and short stories (I have not read the short stories), and it's a good start. The book itself felt like it needed a professional editor as the sentence structure and punctuation was off in a lot of places. I had a bit of a problem with information not being offered in the beginning and then the reader is expected to know it automatically (e.g. when Aysir points out he can't use magic halfway through as if it's an obvious thing). I also didn't really understand how (view spoiler).  //Note: The author does have extensive end notes (footnotes were intended, according to the author, but didn't work with the Kindle); my personal preference is to have all this explained in-line.  I also had trouble reading them on my phone app because they kept going to the end notes, but then not back to where I was in the text, so I didn't use them that much, hence I missed a lot of the history.  I feel if end notes are needed they should be minimal at most.//

The battle scenes were hard to visualize, I ended up just picturing people Final-Fantasy-style hacking at each other. Speaking of Final Fantasy, it felt like the characters took a completely unnatural amount of damage and still didn't die, and those who did die had relatively minor wounds in the grand scheme of things.

What I DID like was the storyline. I appreciated that it was part mystery, part fantasy. Who was killing all the people? What was going on in the mist? Why were the royals so against finding out what it was? Some of this was answered, some of it wasn't. The ending was interesting, albeit a little confusing, because there was something "revealed" about Arabella that didn't seem to fit with her actions, and didn't explain much either.

Overall it's an interesting concept, and I appreciate the opportunity to read and provide a review. My thanks to the author, and my apologies as well for taking so long.

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Review: Dance of Thieves by Mary Pearson

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson My rating: 5 of 5 stars I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley for review purposes. ...