Reviews

2 for the Price of 1: The Golden Compass and Reality Boy

the golden compass

This is a book I’d wanted to read for quite some time, since having seen the movie and learning about the controversy. I picked it up quite some time ago at a library sale, and regret not having read it before this.

Lyra is a very precocious, often selfish little girl, but the character progression throughout the novel is brilliant. From someone who thinks only to themselves, to someone who cares deeply about others Lyra is definitely a good example of a how to, how to make your character grow that is.

This books is filled with the sort of fantasy I can find myself falling into quite easily, with daemons and Dust. It is brilliantly written and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I can’t wait to pick up the next book and give it a read.

reality boy

All I have to say is that YA fiction has changed quite a bit since I was one, and I’m hardly complaining.

A.S King pulls no punches with the way in which she writes her characters, or the language she uses in doing so. She also doesn’t seem too fearful of giving her characters very real problems.

There is true tragedy found in the pages of this book and it has nothing to do with the quality of the writing, which is really good. The two main characters lead very tragic, very real lives, and it’s easy to see why A.S King is a favourite among teens and adults alike.

This book is harsh, but never too melodramatic, and I developed a real fear for the characters as they battled their personal demons.

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Reviews

Veronica Mars is still smarter than me…

mr kiss and tell

When Veronica Mars came onto the screen originally in 2004 I was 16 years old, and turned 17 during the duration of the first season. We were then, roughly the same age which means when the show was cancelled, during both hers and my first year of college I was crushed.

Of course we had nothing in common. I’m a brunette. She’s a blonde. She lived in the seedy little town of Neptune where the rich ruled and the poor…well they didn’t didn’t do so well.

But she, unlike a lot of female characters at the time, was someone who I wanted to be like. Sure she could be rude, and tended to blaze forward without thinking of the consequences but she always stood for what she thought was right, whether it had to do with her friends or a complete stranger.

When the movie came about, a near seven years after the show’s cancellation I was thrilled. When the first book came out I bought it and read it in a few mere hours.

Veronica is 29 now. Suddenly she’s two years older than me, but like myself and so many other’s my age she’s still a little bit lost.

Her relationships have either flourished or fallen, and Neptune if possible is seedier than ever, the underbelly making its way to the top and  aided by the Sheriff (and isn’t that always the way).

But what remains consistent, from TV show, to movie to books is Veronica’s voice, and it rings pretty clear. The characterization is cohesive with who she was on the show, to who she became in the movie. Mac’s expanded role is something to smile at, though certain other characters minimized showing in the book did cause me some concern.

But either way, this book is exactly what I want Veronica Mars to be, feisty, determined, dangerous reckless, and as always…smarter than me. And everyone else in the room.

It is not a perfect book, as there are always flaws, just as there are in our heroes. But there is justice…and there is uncertainty.

Reviews

Review: Teacher Man by Frank McCourt

teacher man

I should preface this by saying, when this book was lent to me by a friend I had never read any of his books. I knew the name, I knew about Angela’s Ashes but Frank McCourt had always seemed to remain in the periphery of my reading life. I knew he had written one book, and it had gained such critical acclaim it became a movie which also gained critical acclaim but I still never picked it up.

When I asked around I was told I didn’t truly need to read either Angela’s Ashes or ‘Tis before I read this book and assured by my friends and fellow GoodReads bookclubbers I embarked on this literary journey.

Frank McCourt certainly has a distinct voice when it comes to his writing and his discussions of his life. It is also a distinctly Irish voice, self-deprecating, often filled with foul language but not without a touch of humour, and yes, good Catholic guilt. He reminds me of a teacher I once knew in college in that aspect.

In other aspects he reminds me of teachers I have known throughout my life. Both real and not real, the Mr Feeny’s who bled into real life voices of English teachers frustrated when I wouldn’t read, to frustrated when I just wouldn’t stop reading things outside of the course material. Teachers who would discuss my potential in bold. After all she has “potential” but she just doesn’t “utilize her skills.”

Yet he cared, he cared about his students, and those cares, those concerns were written about in this book just as I’m sure he felt them every day. Amusingly enough though, he admits he didn’t know how to teach, and those are the moments i truly appreciated it, as he faked it until he could make it.

This book is so wonderfully written, and it’s definitely good for anyone who ever had that teacher, the teacher who cared and left an impression on your, or if you have ever wanted to be that teacher. Or if you ever floundered in your found profession.

Reviews

Review: The Silkworm by Robert Galgraith *cough* JK Rowling *cough*

the silkworm

Cormoran Strike would probably be a very hard person to like if he were real. He’s gruff, sometimes insensitive, often clueless despite being quite intelligent and can be quite rude. However, that doesn’t stop me from utterly loving him on the page. I know he’s flawed, he’s a pain in the ass and yes, sometimes it does suck to hear about how little he is able to take care of himself as a grown man. And he really needs to learn to give Robin her due, but despite that I love this book, I love him in this book and I adore this series.

The mystery was gruesome, as was the crime scene and the book within a book. JK Rowling’s writing has evolved quite a bit since the Harry Potter series although there was still lots of filler at times and the character growth is quite good. Cormoran is slightly better at allowing others to do things for him, and in one moment actually quite considerate of Robin. Robin seems better at standing up for herself in this book, and still remains my kinda gal with her need for adventure, and her ambition.

This was a big time page turner for me, and I found myself going beyond my five chapters at a time, to reaching for ten, for fifteen. I craved the ending, yet, i didn’t want it to end.

Reading Challenges, Reviews

Review: The Storied Life of A.J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

the storied life

Pardon my French.

But this book, this fucking book. It’s beautiful. Just one word. Beauty.

The writing wove itself around me, bringing back memories of childhood spent in the stacks of my old library, of an old bookstore run by an older woman who genuinely cared about what people were reading and the impression it left behind.

I remember the way a mom and pop bookstore smelt, long gone from the area I currently live in and the one I lived in for 26 years, up until a few months ago. This book brought back memories of the heavy scent of paper, of dust, and the feeling of pages under my fingertips, even as I enjoyed the ebook I wished for a physical copy.

It was gorgeously written, and a tribute to readers, as well as writers and the emotions evoke within us. This book reminds me of time spent with friends, talking over books, gushing over what we were reading.

Those moments have come few and far between but I’m thinking maybe, next week, I might go to my local book club.

After all, some of the best ways to get to know people involve books, don’t they?

Reading Challenges, Reviews

Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

frankenstein

When I was eighteen or nineteen do you know what I was doing?

Not crafting a masterpiece of literature while spending time with my soulmate. I believe I was actually freaking out over college applications coming in.

Mary Shelley was fast working on something that would leave her a master of a genre, perhaps one of the foremost writers of the gothic horror movement.

She was writing about humanity in a way that was horrific, in a way that would make every reader consider how they react to people, what they would do if they could harness the power of God and “how on earth a woman could come up with such a plot?”

In the company of her husband, Percy, and none other than Lord Byron himself Shelley would later say that the plot came to her when she lay her head down to sleep. However I doubt she would realize until much later the impact that this novel would have in later years. How it would continuously be in print, and would spurn on continuous re-writes, movie adaptaions, TV adaptations, halloween costumes, comics, jokes, drawings…

But there’s a reason it lasts and it lies in the beauty of the writing. The well formed, elegant prose, guaranteed to enrapture and capture the reader, the slow unraveling of the story and the very question of what it means to be human. Of what it means to have power.

It is also to see, given context how this book may have ended up banned, though I will never agree with banning any book. But the author in question was not only female, but wrote about someone taking in the power of God, of creating life without married reproduction.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a classic, or anyone who loves a scientific spurned horror tale. Or just anyone.

Bookish Things, To Be Read

To be read…or not to be

My to be read list is more than eighty titles long. I know, I’ve heard all the jokes. I have more books than time. I am an addict. I might need some sort of twelve step program.

10904519_10100102524454244_3199342910618054523_oSometimes I even find myself getting overwhelmed by what I should read.

The solution came in a post I saw on Book Riot over a year ago, and so I’ve kept up with this little project, and re-did it this year. The to be read jar/box/container/country/island.

I simply took note of the books I need to read, and own, those on my shelves, virtual or otherwise, wrote the titles down on paper in fun colours, found a box and voila. To be read, whenever I can’t make a decision on what I want to read next.

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Book List 2015

Three Reviews for the Price of One

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

I don’t know what made me wait so long to read any of Michael Crichton’s books, after all he was definitely a master of plot, characters and he usually did a pretty good job on his science as well.

Jurassic Park, the book which the movie phenomenon ended up based off is a masterful work of writing. Even though I knew the premise, and the end, it was the explanation behind how this could have happened that had me rapidly flipping the pages. I searched for the differences, marvelled at the way in which it was written and loved every second of it until the end.

Crichton’s books are now on my to be read list, and i’m very excited to read The Lost World, and even his other novels as well.

river marked

River Marked by Patricia Briggs

This is one of those series’ of books that I was initially very “meh” about while reading it, but I have come to love through time. They are typically quick reads, but I always felt something was missing throughout the books until this one.

The main character, Mercy Thompson is as sassy as ever, and I’m glad to see that didn’t change with a change in relationship status. She will always fight for what she believes in and I was happy to see the current mythologies of this series, fae, vampire,lycanthrope and otherwise melding, and clashing against the mythologies existing in the Native American tribes.

This books is a page turner, and I really did enjoy every minute of the wild ride.

frost burned

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

This book was a little bit more of a slow burn, if you don’t mind the cliche, for me. I don’t know if I was burnt out from having read the series back to back or what, but it was just plain hard for me to get into at first.

However, once I got into it, that was it. The pacing sped up, new characters were introduced, and certainly left their mark, and a shiver of fear behind. The vampires role was explained just a little bit further, but not too much, meaning their presence will continue to be enticing and somewhat frustrating.

Mercy’s relationship with Jesse made me smile in this, as it seems to have grown just the slightest bit and as per usual certain scenes had me laughing aloud while others, and Mercy’s stubbornness had be shaking my head.

Reading Challenges

Reading Challenges 2015

I have decided to participate in a few reading challenges this year.

The first being the Banned Books Challenge at the level of Trouble-Maker, reading 3-5 banned books.

banned books

The second challenge will be the Women Challenge at level 2 reading 6-15 books by a female author.

women3

The third challenge is the Diversity Challenge, in which I will read 7-12 books.

diversity

So readers, how will you be challenging yourself in 2015?

Lists

The Weirdest Top Five Books from 2014 List You’ll See

I managed to read, including comics, 125 books in the year 2014. Not all of them were published in 2014, in fact fuew of them were but this list is based off books I read, and here they are.

So here are my top reads from 2014, in no particular order. They were even fun, or they hurt, or reminded me of a happier time in my life.

kingdom of scars

Kingdom of Scars by Eoin Macken

This book is extremely well written, and reminded me of how tough adolescence can be, while giving me an insight as to what it might be to grow up in a different class climate, and what it’s like for boys growing up as well. It was not the easiest of reads, but it was a coming of age tale I just know I’ll go back to again and again.

outlander1

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This book and the sequels reminded me of how easily you can become engrossed in a book. Or a series. This was one of the best written, best researched books I’ve read in a long time. The story telling was excellent, the characters and scenery leaping from the page into mind.

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Band-Aid for a Broken Leg by Damien Brown

This is a book that reminds me that maybe I as a person don’t do as much as I could to help those outside of my family and social circle. It was an inspiring read that I still think about almost daily.

My life as a white trash zombie by Diana Rowland

My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

This will make some people arch an eyebrow, or even turn away in disgust. But amongst my trying to read world class literature, and more non-fiction this was the book that reminded me that reading was supposed to be enjoyable and fun. The characters are flawed, in the best possible way and this is a series I’ll no doubt visit again and again.

FANGIRL_CoverDec2012

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This was a book that hit close to home, because I’ll admit, this is the character closest to me, only I’m not hauling in any boyfriends any time soon. It’s well written, clever, angsty, fluffy and fun. Rainbow Rowell is a master of writing.


 This year, in 2015 my goal is to read 80 books.

Let’s see if I can’t savour my books a little longer, and take a step outside every so often. Let’s see if I can read more classics, or if it’s the year of the supernatural once again as 2014 yielded a list containing more vampires, werewolves, skinwalkers, time travellers and fae than any year before.

All I know is that I’ve got a lot of books on my shelves that still haven’t been read and they too should take up some valuable real estate in my imagination.