Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

If that were the essay question, my response would be a book report for the most part.

I was trying to save on gas (like 15 miles to the gallon in my car, plus no ac.) and unneccessary expenses (I have a tendency to buy things when I'm out), so we spent the majority of our free time at home. Then wasps took over the swingset, so home became limited to indoors.

And I knew that, with classes starting up again and the girls schedule (school, ballet, etc) and bible study and a bunch of other time commitments, finding time to read would be really difficult. And probably a bad idea, the way I read. So I ended up reading a TON of books. Rather than writing reviews or blurbs on them here, I started a Goodreads account, gave them a rating and if really necessary, wrote a review. I love it- a lot of people have them, so I finally have a steady influx of recommendations. Plus you get a heads up when your favorite authors or series are coming out with a new book, and you can enter to win an ARC (advanced reader copy) or just a free book. Awesome! And there is a feature called listopia, which has lists people have made categorizing books (ie happy endings, YA of 2012, Classics from the 50s, etc). And based on the ratings you give, Goodreads recommends books that fit your interests. I highly recommend this site to anyone who hasn't used it before.

All that being said, out of the dozens of books I consumed, I had few complaints, which was really surprising and refreshing. I've been reading dystopian novels and fantasy. I really enjoyed Starcrossed and Liar's Moon. The third book hasn't been picked up by the publisher yet. The first Graceling book was good, though a little slow at times, and rather disturbing at others. I'll probably read the second book Fire when I get a chance. I read a few historical fiction novels, all of which sucked, I'm sorry to say. Predictable, didn't learn anything, and just thoroughly dry. Poison Study was really good. I'm on the waiting list for the following books, but I've heard they decline. I may change my mind by the time I actually get the book, and let a good thing rest. Why does everyone feel the need to make a book a trilogy. Not everybody (actually few it seems) is cut out to write follow up books. Some people's strengths lie in a strong standalone book. It really diminishes the quality when a sequel fails. I can't enjoy the original the same way, knowing what lies ahead.

The best thing I read all summer was Divergent (and sequel Insurgent). If you liked The Hunger Games, you'll like this. Veronica Roth has a blog that she actually keeps up with too. Right now, I'm reading The Giver series (4th book out soon!) and the Percy Jackson series. I've got a week to squeeze 'em in!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Graceling Review

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1) Graceling 

His eyes, Katsa had never seen such eyes. One was silver, and the other, gold. They glowed in his sun-darkened face, uneven, and strange. She was surprised that they hadn't shone in the darkness of their first meeting. They didn't seem human....

Then he raised his eyebrows a hair, and his mouth shifted into the hint of a smirk. He nodded at her, just barely, and it released her from her spell.

Cocky, she thought. Cocky and arrogant, this one, and that was all there was to make of him. Whatever game he was playing, if he expected her to join him he would be disappointed.

In a world where people born with an extreme skill—called a Grace—are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of the skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

My Review: 7/10

Plot line was really predictable at times. Characters were likeable, relatable, though the two main were getting on my nerves a lot by the end- too whiny. Decently well written. Despite being soaked in violence, most of the time I didn't feel it was overdone.

The villain was definitely creepy, enough that, despite his rather limited involvement, I probably wouldn't have read this book knowing that was the realm of evil I was getting involved in.

Truly, I felt the novel did well enough on it's own that a sequel wasn't necessary. So I kind of wonder how it's going to go in the next book.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Giver Review

The Giver (The Giver, #1)The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1)

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

My Review: 7/10

** spoiler alert **
I've read a lot of dystopian novels recently, so maybe that's why it didn't make as lasting of an impact. Overall though, a good book. Full of meaning, without the depressing heaviness that can accompany the topic matter. It was a little slow for the first few chapters, but then it really picked up pace. I think it was well written, especially as the lack of color was a complete surprise to me. I'm looking forward to seeing how the story progresses.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Curse Dark As Gold Review

A Curse Dark As GoldA Curse Dark As Gold

This ravishing winner of the ALA's William C. Morris YA Debut Award is a fairy tale, spun with a mystery, woven with a family story, and shot through with romance.

Charlotte Miller has always scoffed at talk of a curse on her family's woolen mill, which holds her beloved small town together. But after her father's death, the bad luck piles up: departing workers, impossible debts, an overbearing uncle. Then a stranger named Jack Spinner offers a tempting proposition: He can turn straw into gold thread, for the small price of her mother's ring. As Charlotte is drawn deeper into her bargains with Spinner-and a romance with the local banker-she must unravel the truth of the curse on the mill and save the community she's always called home.

My Review: 8.5/10
This high of a rating usually means that this is something i will want to read again and again. not the case here. part of me wishes i had never started reading it to begin with. despite a happily resolved ending filled with hope and a bright future, with the skeletons of the past peacefully buried, the story is riddled with sinister and violent happenings. the creepy tone that seeps forth from the pages was too all-consuming.

elizabeth bunce did an amazing job with the story telling and i agree with her that this is a much better rendition of rumpelstiltskin. but the stories i read latch themselves firmly on to my being, and it is my nature to prefer novels with more light than darkness, more humor than despair and more hope than fear. to anyone who does not share my easily affected constitution, i would recommend this book.

i disagree with ms bunce as well as many other reviewers regarding the names. i know that in history a lot of people did get their last names from their professions, and this certainly helped me to remember who they were quicker, but i didnt feel that these direct names gave them strength or made them more solid. quite the contrary, i felt that it made them seem more indistinct, like vapor; most of these names, i will not remember or think of again.

charlotte, rosie, and randall are all characters worth knowing and growing attached to. and the messages of honesty, family, forgiveness and justice are all themes we could do with more of in our lives.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Apothecary's Daughter Review

The Apothecary's Daughter The Apothecary's Daughter


As Lilly toils in her father's apothecary shop, preparing herbs and remedies by rote, she is haunted by memories of her mother's disappearance. Villagers whisper the tale, but her father refuses to discuss it. All the while, she dreams of the world beyond --- of travel and adventure and romance.

When a relative offers to host her in London, Lilly discovers the pleasures and pitfalls of fashionable society and suitors, as well as clues about her mother. But will Lilly find what she is searching for --- the truth of the past and a love for the future?

My Review: 4/10

I felt that this novel went on for way too long. I was surprised by the way some of the characters' loose ends were tied up. Lilly was likeable but I felt that she passed from man to man way too easily and without any real feeling. Her father's disgrace was not pretty. I had hoped for the best for her mother til the bitter end. One of the reasons that I like reading pieces set during this time is that there is less debauchery and less scandal. Emotions, attachments, etc weigh so much more heavily and are so much more pure. I didn't feel that this story represented that very well at all.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Colonel's Lady Review

The Colonel's Lady The Colonel's Lady

In 1779, when genteel Virginia spinster Roxanna Rowan arrives at the Kentucky fort commanded by Colonel Cassius McLinn, she finds that her officer father has died. Penniless and destitute, Roxanna is forced to take her father's place as scrivener. Before long, it's clear that the colonel himself is attracted to her. But she soon realizes the colonel has grave secrets of his own—some of which have to do with her father's sudden death. Can she ever truly love him?

My Review: 5/10

  some aspects were definitely interesting, but i felt the story could have, sometimes should have, ended several times over. the constant crying got a bit old and if it werent for the overuse of the word "winsome" (apx every other page) I would have given it 6/10- if im too distracted by the word use to take in the story, its too much. i liked 5 feathers' involvement. and though i suspected either hank, bella or micajah (sp?) I was never certain, so that was well done.