I had a pretty good reading month; among camping trip and day trips, lounging by the pool, having one class end (and another class start already), I had plenty of time for some good (and not so good) books. 15 in all! I don't even know how that's possible.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
I would give this 3.5 stars if I could, because I did really like it, but I didn't love it. The idea that some kind of magic exists allowing one to read-to-life characters from story books is really fun and exciting, great concept for this novel. However, I don't like that it ends slightly different than the movie (not all the characters get happy endings) but there are two more books to the series, so I suppose their stories are tied up eventually. I liked this enough to continue on in the series.
Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Another cute one. And Bee continues to be my favorite of the four girls. I wish I was a bit more high-spirited and reckless like her on occasion!
Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
I read this 384 pg book all in one day...not because it was particularly good (it was good enough, I enjoyed it), but because it was a fantastic distraction. I'd been working on (and silently cursing) my online Chemistry class all day, getting frustrated at the mistakes in the text and online lesson (yes, seriously, I've found a dozen mistakes--it is so annoying and upsetting) and not hearing back once regarding the three emails I'd sent my professor about questions and inconsistencies on the assignment.
Add to that I'm dieting and starving and my weight loss has stalled 4 straight days in a row...picture me, walking into the kitchen to eat ANYTHING, looking from one thing to another, but knowing that I couldn't and that I'd only regret it in the morning. So. I shut the fridge, left the kitchen with a Diet Pepsi with Lime, and took to my room where I painted my toenails, listed crap on craigslist, and read for almost 4 straight hours.
The book: I've really come to like these four characters. If you remember it was tough for me to get into; felt so juvenile. Well, this book definitely was not juvenile. Sadly it was a little too risque in my opinion for a YA book about teenagers, for teenagers, but sadly that is the way of the world. Having said that, I did like most of the plot, liked the character development (always love Bee's stories and her enthusiasm, and I was so glad Carmen was not the whiny brat she was in the past 3 books) and thought if this is the way the series is ended, it was done in a good way.
I recommend it, but the whole series needs a bit of caution when it comes to letting your teenage daughters read it.
**edit, just saw that there's a 5th book due out in a week. Guess the series is not done. :)
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
I was really intrigued when I picked this up, because from the many friends of mine who have read this, it got ratings of 1 star all the way up to 5. I was very interested to see where I'd fair as I read it.
Have you ever wondered just why exactly a classic is a classic? Read Of Mice and Men, and you'll see what I mean. I was shocked to find out it was a mere 105 pages for starters. My average lately has been around 400 or so, so 105 pages seems hardly able to develop characters and plot, let alone come to climax and conclusion.
I'd known the basics of this story...a couple of guys in the 30s go from town to town as hired hands, kinda running from trouble. They have their dreams of owning their own ranch some day. One of them is the brains, and the other, the brawn. Brawn is also pretty much mentally deficient, shall we say. He does whatever his buddy tells him to do, is huge, and in fact, dangerous in his innocence, but he's a hard worker.
There are plenty of interesting characters in this, and even though there are only 105 pgs in the book, character development definitely occurred. Similes and foreshadowing are also evident. I was horror-struck by the ending.
Would I recommend it? Nah. It's full of bad language and is a rather sad story. Literary aficionados could certainly argue their points for why this is classic, but it's not my cup of tea.
Firelight (Firelight #1) by Sophie Jordan
I really liked this! This is the kind of fantasy I enjoy, plus light romance as a bonus. I hope there are lots more of these because I really enjoyed the storyline about the girl and her tribe descended from dragons. I guessed the twist quite early on, but that didn't ruin it for me.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
It's strange, I was totally diggin' on this book for pretty much the entire thing. I felt it was such an original concept going along with the dystopian society thing. People have become so offended at this and that, that pretty much all creativity and imagination and thought is gone, unallowed, and banned on screen, in print, or in action. Firemen are trained to start fires, to burn books, and to rid the world of any evidence of original thought.
It was pretty creepy, but enjoyable. The climax and ending worked well.
But then, The Afterword by the author.
In which he feels the unnecessary need to pretty much restate the philosophy of his whole book by citing personal examples of how 'book burning' and censorship are going on today. I was really turned off by these few pages (of course his few bits on Mormons didn't help his case either...some time in the past he must have been slighted or censored by one). You know how if you have to explain a joke, it ceases to be funny? Well that's what The Afterword did for me for the whole book. Had he left it alone and let his story speak for itself, I think I would have been much more impressed.
The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon
This is a tough one to critique. It was very slow-moving for me at first; I really didn't get into it until well past pg 150. It's about a woman lawyer, Evelyn, in the 1920's after the Great World War, a time when women were just starting to enter the law and the workforce in general.
There are many subplots going at the same time, plots that make one wonder how and if they are all connected? There is the issue of the mysterious baby-momma who shows up 6 yrs after Dear Brother has died wanting shelter and income. There is the issue of one of the cases Evelyn is working on--an 'unfit' mother who gave up her children to an orphanage, only to find she was unable to bring them home again once she got sober. Then there is the murder mystery. There is also a subplot of romance, which was enjoyable. To be honest, I wasn't sure which was the main story.
The name "Crimson Rooms" is mentioned only once, as a place that wounded solders see in their dreams when they are near to death, only to be brought back. Didn't really get the significance of this nor why it became the novel's name.
About half-way thru, I got an inkling on whodunnit...from that point on, I was hooked. Now I won't tell you regarding if I was correct or not, but I will tell you that the ending fell rather flat. Evelyn is still not really her own person by the end of the book. She is not a very good daughter, friend, lawyer, or lover.
I think the ending could have been tied up much nicer than it was, and for that I am disappointed. However, the story did keep me up at night, wondering and pondering if my predictions would turn true. The writing was well-done and the characters were interesting. It IS slow-going, and I didn't care for the ending, but I will say that it was good enough to merit the 3 stars.
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
This is one of the strangest books I've ever read. It had a lot of promise, really--16 yr old girl gets lost in the wood, meets Death, tells him the beginning of a story with the promise of returning the next night to be his bride if he'll give her just one more day in the real world. They make the deal that if she can find her true love in one day, she doesn't have to be claimed by Death that night. She kind of continues to trick him night after night with promises of the ending to this story as she continues to search for her one true love. So, great premise, right?
However, the characters were all really flat. We really don't get to know Keturah at all. And while this was written for YA, the writing was actually quite lame. I hoped for so much more. The ending is just bizzare. As a reader, you generally have a pull one way or another towards a character and/or how you want the story to end up, but the ending of this book left me with a "What?!" taste in my mouth. Just weird.
The Alchemist's Daughter by Katharine McMahon
Another tough one to review. This author frustrates me so much! The story is very good and very well written about a young woman in the 1700s, raised in all the learnings of her scientist father. It did take a while for me to get into it, but I enjoyed the story of her development, elopement, and transformation from the alchemist's daughter to something more along the lines of what her new husband wanted.
Like her other book "The Crimson Room", the bad guy gets away scott-free. I hate that! The main character spent her whole marriage being pretty much sexually abused because she didn't know any better, and you keep hoping that he's going to die a tragic death or get lost at sea or smashed by an anvil or something, but, nope. He goes on living his happy oblivious life, stomping on people, and having a complete lack of care of humanity in general. And as far as the romance, you THINK she gets together with her True Love at the end, but it doesn't literally say so.
I finished these two books feeling unsatisfied! I don't think I'll pick up another from this author.
Inkspell (Inkheart #2) by Cornelia Funke
I gave up on this one...it wasn't bad necessarily, it just wasn't holding my interest. I got to page 65, and there were almost 600 to go. I decided it wasn't for me. At this stage of the Inkheart story, Dustfinger has been read back into the book, and we see a lot from his point of view. With all the faeries and magical creatures, it had a very Fablehaven feel to it, which just isn't interesting to me.
Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Steifvater
I really really liked this one! Call me a sucker for cheesy teenage romance, but I ate it up with a giant spoon. :) I'd even go so far as giving it 4.5 stars--I reserve my 5 star ratings for books that I would purchase for myself and read over and over again. This didn't quite hit that status, but I did really enjoy this story about a boy who is a werewolf during the cold months and human during the warm ones, and the girl who falls in love with him.
Normally I don't care for books that have poems and 'songs' and random lyrics thrown in, but it actually worked for me in this case. The fact that those lyrics came from a teenage boy's mind is slightly unbelievable, but it was good nonetheless.
High Five (Stephanie Plum #5) by Janet Evanovich
These books seriously amuse us. Already have the next two ready to read out loud. Enjoying the development of Stephanie's (and supporting cast's) character. The development of romance with Ranger was fun too. Glad there's so many in the series! (17? 18?)
The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner
Ummm...hmmm... I'm still pretty confused. *giggle*
I mean it was good, and kept me reading (listening on CD), and I couldn't wait to hear what happened next, but I didn't really understand it. Still don't quite get it. I would have rated it higher if there were just more ends tied up, more answers given.
I'm starting to feel like these are the book equivalent of "Lost" episodes...and we all know I quit that show 3 seasons in. :p
Anyone else have this problem?
Room by Emma Donogue
I read this nearly all in one day; it was completely captivating. It's about a woman who is kidnapped and kept in a converted shed for 7 years by her abductor, never seeing the outside. In the meantime she has a son (fathered by the abductor)--and the story is told from the son's perspective. It's a completely horrific story about their completely contained life inside this Room.
On one hand, it's very creatively done. Writing a five-year old's perspective is ingenious and difficult and gives the reader a completely different perception of this kind of life, one in which he knows no other. On the other hand, no 5 year old I know talks this way...and his manner of speaking did become tiresome after a while.
Although it's an awful story, it was very well done and worth the read.
Hot Six (Stephanie Plum #6) by Janet Evanovich
3 1/2 even! Dan and I had a lot of fun reading this one. With the addition of Bob the dog and Grandma Mazur moving in with her, plus new characters in Dougie and Mooner, there was plenty of laughs. My kids happened to be in the car when we read about the dog poop and they were dying laughing.
So, to sum up, one dud (Inkheart #2), a few strongly recommended (Firelight, Shiver, and Room--if you can handle it) and a couple of 'Whaa--?" (Maze Runner 2, Keturah and Lord Death). All in all, not a bad month of reading. We'll be in the car a lot over the next week, so I hope to get a few knocked out pretty quick.
Although my Pathophysiology class just started and each week I have something like 4-5 chapters due, so then again, maybe not.
What have you been reading?