Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Well's End by Seth Fishman was a rollicking ride from start to finish. 

The summary of this book was vague enough that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. And by the end, I really had no idea what was happening. But I also sort of liked the intrigue. It was frustrating at times because Fishman doesn't leave enough clues for you to figure out what's happening on your own. You have to read until the end, and the ending is less than fulfilling. However it's the first book in at least a duology which I didn't know when I read it.

I would suggest this book to people who love adventures and are willing to let a book carry them away.

Favorite Quotes: Only humans could come up with such an awful way to turn a gift to a curse.

Difficulty Doesn't Determine Affection

Hello Lovelies!

Welcome back to another Top Ten Tuesday hosted by the wonderful women over at The Broke and the Bookish .

This week's topic is...

Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me to Read

1. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith : If you read my review then you'll know that I have mixed feelings about this book. It was hard to read because of the writing style. There's quite a bit of jumping around and he talks about things that happen far outside his scope of knowledge. So all around, just a tricky book to tackle.

2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho :   I know that most people love this book, but I was not one of them. It isn't very hard to read writing-wise, but I was so over it from about four pages in that I had the hardest time picking it back up again and again so I could finish it. If I hadn't told my dad I'd read it, I would have marked it DNF.

3. The Magicians by Lev Grossman : If you read my review, you'll know that I hated this book. It was hard for me to read because I hated it so much. But it  was also hard to read because Grossman seems to think that he needs to show off his vocabulary in stupid ways. 

4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: This was a choice from my book club, and I had the hardest time reading it. The subject matter is really dark, and Flynn appears to really not like women from this book at least. 

5. The Kill Order by James Dashner : I think this was the book where I was just like Dashner, man, come on, I'm over you shit. So I had a hard time reading it because I was rolling my eyes half the time. 

6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien : I know I'm not going to make any friends with my dislike of this novel, but that's okay. I just wanted so much more from it. I found it to be really boring over all with a lot of "telling" instead of "showing." 

7. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin : I love this series. But I blazed through the first three, and then I tried to start this fourth one, and I just couldn't do it. It was too hard to keep reading. So I took a three or four month break from the series and then went back to it. These are tough, thick books to read all in a row. I'm amazed with the people who can do it. 

8. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck : I hated this book when I read it in high school for class, but I powered through and read it. The writing style was hard, the plot was very dull, and I had no internal motivation to read it. But the next year when I was sitting in the class that was reading it (I had an independent study), I started to enjoy the story more. I appreciated the difficulty of reading it. I haven't ever reread it, but I no longer hate it either. 

9. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens : This was another one I read in high school, but I really enjoyed it starting about 2/3rds of the way into the book. It was also hard to read: the writing style and vocabulary were very different. I loved it. 

10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley : Another school read. Another one that was tricky for writing reasons. Another one I really enjoyed.

So lovelies, there you go. Books that were hard for me to read--some of which I really enjoyed in the end!

What about you? Which books were hard for you to read? Would you recommend them? 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Let's Have a Drink

Hello Lovelies!

So, a while back, Jamie at Perpetual Page-Turner wrote one of these posts, and I felt the need to write one tonight. So grab your own drink of choice (I'm not going to lie, I don't have coffee. I have Cranberry Sprite), and let's have a little chat.

If we were having drinks... I'd tell you how crummy I feel. I think I'm getting sick, and my entire body hurts. So it's probably safer that we're having drinks separately. 

If we were having drinks... I'd tell you how stressed I am about school. I may have underestimated how hard it was going to be to go back to school after two years. I'm the only person I know who is taking four classes too. Most other people are taking two or one. So I might be a little crazy. And I keep getting irritated with my classes because they expect high quality work but the prompts that are given make it difficult to provide that. I can read and participate in class, but when I go to write papers, it's like my brain shuts down. I get frustrated with myself.

If we were having drinks... I'd ask you if you knew what you were going to be doing with life or if you stumbled into it. I don't know if it's just my anxiety getting the best of me, but I'm questioning my life decisions now. I'm worried that I'm not going to get a job when I graduate. Or I'm worried that I won't find whatever job I do find fulfilling. I'm worried that I left all my friends behind for nothing.

If we were having drinks... I'd ask what you were loving lately. I need more joy in my life. Tell me about things you're passionate about, so I can feel the joy too!!

So lovelies, continue this conversation with me in the comments -- or on any other social media site! I love you all so much. Thanks for sticking around.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hello Lovelies!!!!

Oh my goodness, it's been ages since I've posted. I'm so sorry. Let me catch you up on my excuses as to why it's been so long.

First of all, I did manage to move all the way across the country. Almost as far as I could get from good old Missoula, MT -- Boston, MA. So that was an adventure. And then school started right away, and I'm not going to lie, it's been a little rough. I've been out of school for two years, so it's been an adjustment getting back into the swing of classes and no work and bizarre free time which isn't really free because I should be doing homework or writing papers. Sigh.

But! I have a little bit of time right now where all the homework that's due today and tomorrow is done, and I don't have what I need to finish for Monday, so I can catch up on my blog. Woohoo!!

The good news is I've been reading a lot. Like A LOT. I have an hour commute (that's one way), so I basically have two hours of reading time whenever I go to school, and I also have to read a whole bunch for two of my classes, so lots of books read. The bad news is I haven't been writing reviews, so this is going to be a weirdly long post about all the books I've read recently, so if you're not interested, obviously just move right along. Also, my reviews will probably be really short because I have to so many.

So here we go!!

Half Bad by Sally Green  was a really interesting take on magic and racism. But I definitely didn't love it, which was disappointing. I really expected to like it a lot. The book starts with a captured magician in a cage--it couldn't possibly be anything but great. Except it wasn't. I loved the fact that Nathan was a person of color. I loved that it addressed a lot of the problems with multi-racial relationships and kids (not problems as in they're a bad thing, but problems that people who engage in them encounter with hateful other people). But it got a little heavy handed with the white/black magic distinction. And Nathan alternated between being totally understandable and completely alienating. It starts in 2nd person which was also really confusing to read for a little while, but right when I adjusted to that viewpoint, it switched to third person limited. I think I'm interested in reading the sequel when it comes out, but it definitely isn't high priority.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling remains my favorite of the series even 15 years later. I got to reread this book for one of my classes, and I just can't contain my love for it. Of course, that didn't mean that my subsequent paper turned out great (I mean, really, have you ever tried to explain why you love a book that changed your life??), but I really enjoyed rereading this book. Once again, I'm at a loss for words when it comes to how awesome the Harry Potter series really is. If you haven't read it, you need to.

Prequel/Sequel Challenge Points 86 + 2 = 88 points. 

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall is a delightful middle grade read. It's a National Book Award Winner, and I really think it deserves the accolades. It's a little bit timeless--technology is a minimum, but adventure is at an all-time high. The book follows four sisters during their summer vacation at a rental home on the property of mean old Mrs. Tifton whose son, Jeffrey, is excited to join the Penderwicks in their fun. It definitely made me reminisce about my own summers as a kid, when I was able to run around and enjoy life. It's a fun read for middle grade readers and up.

The Goats by Brock Cole is one of those books which made for good class discussion, but I hated it. It's about a boy and a girl who are deserted on an island completely nude by their fellow summer campers. The boy and girl are forced to decide how they're going to react to the situation and how to avoid going back to the camp that betrayed them. I didn't enjoy it all. The main characters' names are rarely used which irritated me. I'm pretty sure it's intended to allow readers to make themselves the main characters, but it just made me annoyed. The situations are all somewhat believable, but it was written in 1990, so a lot of it is simply outdated. I just did not enjoy it in the least.

The thing I find most interesting about Andrew Smith's Grasshopper Jungle is that when you google image search the title, this is one of the results:

That picture basically sums up how I felt about the book too. Obviously I'm not alone in this. On the one hand, I really liked the plot. It's about a boy, Austin, who has a girlfriend, Shann, and a best friend, Robby. He loves both his girlfriend and his best friend. He's trying to come to terms with his sexuality and who he wants to have sex with. It's also about the end of the world--which has come about from a militarized virus which turns people who come into contact with it into--giant praying mantises. Seriously. I actually found all of that plot really compelling. On the other hand, the writing style just really threw me through a loop. It's a bit like if Holden Caulfield's stream of consciousness met up with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 inanity. It's really repetitive, but Smith also uses a lot of short, choppy sentences. It just didn't do it for me. Over all, I think I'd say I liked it, but it's definitely a book I would recommend with caution.

What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman was a bit of a disappointment. On the one hand, I read this when I was 8 or 9 and really liked it, but when I read it this time, I just wanted to be like c'mon Jamie. Like I feel bad for him because I think he's suffering from some sort of PTSD, but I also want to be like you aren't young enough to be pulling the shit you pull. Maybe it appeals more to younger readers, but I just didn't feel it this time around

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson was amazing. It's a novel in verse, or maybe a cohesive collection of poems, but it tells the story of 11 year old Lonnie Collins Motion (LoCoMotion). He has lost his parents and is living with a foster parent. His little sister is living with a different foster parent. The reader gets to experience different facets of Lonnie's life thought the poetry he's writing for his class. It's beautiful and wonderful and so meaningful. I'm amazed at how much meaning Woodson could fit in a 112 page book. I definitely want to recommend this to everyone. And I also want to go read all the rest of her books. So expect to see more of her titles on my shelves.

The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez was an enlightening look at the life of a family of Mexican immigrants to the United States. I have always been an advocate for immigrant rights -- it's ridiculous that countries have put up all these borders and said you aren't allowed here. Anyway, sorry, tangent. Really what The Circuit made me consider was the lack of efficient schooling for people who speak English as a second language. It's amazing that these underserved people can pick up any English at all, let alone enough to function. I would totally recommend this book for someone looking to explore life from someone else's shoes. 

Like No Other by Una LaMarche was an almost perfect contemporary romance. It follows the story of two teens from basically opposite sides of life, even though they live within blocks of each other in New York City. Devorah is a Hasidic Jewish girl. She follows the rules laid down by her religion without questioning them. Jaxon is a Black book-smart nerd with a ton of sisters and almost no game. They end up trapped together in an elevator during a storm based power outage at the hospital. Their connection might be forbidden, but they're willing to risk the consequences. This book was so good!! It had all the things I love in my romances: a bit of insta-love, those quotes that make your stomach flutter with excitement, and utter stupidity when it comes to everyone around you. I know that some of those are qualities that others hate, but I really enjoy them. Honestly the only thing that I didn't particularly get behind was the end of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a contemporary romance based read. It's delightful.

Favorite Quotes: I forget sometimes how I might look to other people. I could be reading The Great Gatsby on the 3 train, or walking down the street listening to a podcast on my phone, or coming out of my orthodontist's office with Invisalign braces feeling like the biggest nerd on the planet, but some people don't notice anything but an almost-six-foot-tall black man.

Where else will I find someone to listen without judgement? This might be the only chance I ever get to be completely honest without worrying about being proper. 

And okay, wow, if you're still here, you really care about what I think. And that just fills my heart with joy. So let me know what you've been reading lately, lovelies! Drop me a comment on your latest best read or suggest something to me off of what I've written here!! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Galax-Arena by Gillian Rubinstein is a novel that I love when I was younger.  For one of my classes, I was required to reread a novel I remembered from my youth, and during discussion this book came up. I loved this book when I was in elementary school. I was a little surprised to see that it's recommended for kids 12+ because I definitely read it when I was 8 or 9. That's pretty typical for me though.

Galax-Arena is about three siblings: Peter, Joella and Liane. They're kidnapped by a man named Hythe and taken to an alien planet called Vexak. There they are forced to perform for aliens called Vexa in an acrobatic troup that performs in the Galax-Arena. They are not the only children in the Galax-Arena. There are many children from all across Earth. They've cobbled together a language and a means of living, but their entire life centers around performing in the Galax-Arena--and in surviving each performance.

As I was rereading this book, I was surprised at how much I had forgotten. The premise had stayed with me really well. I was shocked by this book in my youth, and it would reoccur to me every so often that this book exists. Rereading it made me so aware of why I identified with Joella. She's not athletic and she's ostracized because of it. That is exactly what I was like when I read this book.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sci-fi/fantasy stories. It's a short book, and it's compelling enough that it's a quick read.