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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Making Up for My Small Library Stack

  (hosted by Marg of Adventures of an Intrepid Reader and Eva of A Striped Armchair)

I didn't actually pick up a lot from the library this week (which is good, because I am sooooo behind).  Just these two:
The Line by Teri Hall
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (book club set, yeah!)

A few came for review, though:
You by Charles Benoit (so freaking excited by this!)
Snap by Carol Snow
Dewey's Nine Lives by Vicki Myron

But when it came to the bookstore, the library sale, and a random garage sale, I got a bit crazy (well, not too much):
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
The Aeneid by Virgil
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (you can never have too many copies of this, right?)
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

I also happened to win (my lucky week): 
Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey from Christina T at Reading Exclusively

A box of books from Kate at The Neverending Shelf (to donate to my local library :)
The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor
Ash by Malinda Lo
Arson Estevan Vega
The Cave by Steve McGill
Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy by William Irwin and Richard Brian Davis

I also won one of the bags of goodies from the book blogger conference from GalleySmith.  It had tons of bookish stuff in there, too much for me to write down, so I'll just send you to look at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books' list.


Definitely a lot of books coming in this week!  What about you?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Book Review: Libyrinth by Pearl North

Libyrinth by Pearl North
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication date: July 2009
ISBN: 0765320967
Source: Library 

Libyrinth
 
In a future time when books are scarce and in danger of extinction, Libyrarians like Haly protect what is left.  Only Haly isn't like all the other Libyrarians - she has a secret.  The Eradicants believe the written word to be evil - even one look at the words is sin.  Instead, they pass knowledge through spoken word and song.  When the two sides gather to battle for possession of the books kept in the Libyrinth, Haly is about to find out just how important her strange hidden talent is.

Things I Liked:
It was a very interesting story idea and I just loved the summaries and blurbs I saw about it.  That is what really drew me to it - a book about future librarians who fight to save the written word from eradication.  A very intriguing idea to me.  I also really enjoyed Haly's comments on what she read from the books.  Some of it was familiar and some was not.  I enjoy a book that talks about books (meta-book?) and that incorporates specific books into the story.  Also the idea that there are two sides waging battle against each other feels just real enough that it seems possible.  I do like that both sides had their strengths and weaknesses - neither one was perfect.  This will probably appeal to librarians and book-lovers for obvious reasons.

I have often wondered why those who read consider themselves superior to those who don't, when it is the Song that is eternal, and the singers of the Song who wield the power of its teachings.  But arrogance is the folly of the literate. p 112
A story is nothing more or less than a sequence of facts, or in the case of fiction, lies, that are imbued with meaning. p 152
Things I Didn't Like:
Really, I just didn't like the execution of the idea.  I was bored and had to put it down multiple times because I was not interested.  I think the divided storyline (it switches back and forth between two characters stories) made it really hard for me to connect with either of them.  It seemed like there was a lot of extraneous information that did not contribute to the story and that I just didn't care about.  I admit that when I got near the end, I skimmed a lot, so it might have picked up in excitement.  


Read-alikes: 
Reminded me a little (the premise did anyway) of Unwind by Neal Shusterman and Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix


BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:  
s-factor: ! 
maybe one or two


mrg-factor: XX
some situations, but not very descriptive


v-factor: ->->
there is some pretty heated fighting that takes place


Overall rating: **

Would you be a libyrarian or an eradicant?
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, June 28, 2010

Listless Monday, 3 In 1 Edition

Listless Monday was inspired by both Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity's feature Books by Theme and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

3 3 3  3  3  3  3 3

I've noticed an increase in the number of books published that list three things in the title (3 in 1, I'm so clever).  You'll see what I mean below.  Basically, I thought it would be a fun and random list to gather as many as possible together. 

3 in 1

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-made Catastrophes by Lenore Look
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (suggested by Court)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald
Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman
Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (suggested by Hopewell)
Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List by Janette Rallison
Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff
The Ghost, the Eggheads, and Babe Ruth's Piano by Larry Sweitzer
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things... by Nick Hornby, Neil Gaiman, Jon Scieszka, and Jonathan Safran Foer
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and A Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler

Any others you can think of?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Word Girl


This week, There's a Book's A Bit of Me(Me) topic is our favorite word.  I knew I couldn't pick just one.  So, I went with these categories:

Made-up word: crapaflapnasti (from Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia)
Doesn't sound made-up, but it probably is: illicitabeticals (from Ella Minnow Pea
Childhood favorite: farm equipment (our family's substitute swear word - yes, it makes no sense)
For giggles: snogging
Sounds cool: vituperation
To make me sound smarter: abscond
I use too often: awesome, lovely, beautiful, gorgeous (especially in reviews)

What are your favorites?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, June 25, 2010

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban AND Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling


Second double feature (well, I guess technically third, since I reviewed the first two HP books together).  Also, my second review for GalleySmith's Harry Potter Reading Challenge, and joint review with the hubby, though as you'll see, he didn't have a lot to say. :)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: September 1999
ISBN: 9780439136365

Source: Library (audio)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: July 2000
ISBN: 9780439139601

Source: Library (audio)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3)   Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4)

The Plot:
I'm sure you are all pretty familiar with the general basic plot of these books.  So, we'll skip right to:

Similarities:

I think most of the HP books have a similar plot arc - they all start about the same time, a bit before school starts and they end at the end of the term at school.  Harry deals with difficulties, of course, and fights evil.  You know, all the fun magical jazz that happens and he and his friends probably fight at least once.  And, of course, there is always a big surprise revealed - something you didn't expect to happen.  Or someone you didn't expect it to be.

Differences:

One thing I remember loving about POA is that Voldemort makes no appearance.  The bad guy is not the Dark Lord, but Sirius Black, who we know *spoiler* turns out to be a good guy *end spoiler*.  It stands out as a book that is different from the others that way.  (Ah, except after further thought, he doesn't exactly "fight" him in Half-Blood Prince either, but we do get to see and hear lots about him in that one, so I'm sticking with what I said.)  It is refreshing in ways to deal with a lesser villain.  Plus, we get lots of info about Harry's parents and what happened to them on that night. I think we also get our first shining display of Harry's fiery temper.  I'd say this one is more heart whereas GOF is more action.

In GOF, there is something totally different going on at school.  It deviates from the normal routine with the quidditch world cup and the triwizard tournament.  The regular learning appears almost entirely on hold, with the possible exception of defense against the dark arts classes.  Good old Moody turns out to be *spoiler* bad old Barty Crouch, Jr. *end spoiler*.  I admit to being most annoyed with this plot twist, since there was honestly no way on earth for us to figure it out before hand, especially with no suspicious circumstances surrounding Crouch Jr.'s death.  The two plots are actually quite different in these ones, despite the familiar wrappings.

The Characters:

Main characters are obviously the same, but we get new ones introduced in each.  POA has Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and Professor Trelawney.  I think that nearly everyone I know adores Sirius and Lupin.  They are both favorites of mine and both obviously play important roles later on.  This is proof to me of Rowling's foresight - introduce them early if they are important later.

In GOF, we most notably meet Mad Eye Moody.  I think I would have liked to see him before he came to this book, but I like him just the same.  What really throws me is that the person we think he is throughout the book, he really isn't.  That shows up more in the next book when Harry runs into him again and isn't sure what to think of him.  Rita Skeeter is also introduced, a person that my husband says he loathes.  We also meet the Crouches and of course Lord Voldemort himself.  And we meet students from other schools (none of whom play much of a part in the rest of the series).

Things I Liked:
Again, I really liked the audio versions with Jim Dale.  Though, I did notice that all of his older women sort of sound alike.  And Hermione is exceptionally annoying in nearly all instances.  Still, the characters were unique and the story is engaging.  I would love to forget the plot twists and be surprised again for the first time.  Perhaps on my next read, I'll have to see if the clues are enough to lead a smart person to figure the endings out.  I'm still enthralled with her variety of unique and well-defined characters and her ability to surprise us with those endings.


My husband couldn't think of anything he really wanted to add (he really just adores all things HP), though he does like the narrator as well - probably more than I do.  We listened to them while driving on some of our road trips.  But, here are two of his favorite quotes: 

POA:
"I must warn you at the outset that if you do not have the Sight, there is very little I will be able to teach you.  Books can take you only so far in this field..."
AT these words, both Harry and Ron glanced, grinning, at Hermione, who looked startled at the news that books wouldn't be much help in this subject. p 103
GOF:
"Hermione, Neville's right - you are a girl..."
"Oh well spotted," she said acidly. p 400
Things I Didn't Like:
After I read someone's comments somewhere (I couldn't find where or who), I noticed that a lot of Rowling's descriptions, while funny and clever, are repeated too often.  Particularly Crookshanks' ginger bottle-brush tail.  After POA, I wanted to erase those words from my existence.  There has to be a synonym for ginger.  It also seemed a bit odd that Sirius would attack with a knife if he only wanted to see Harry.  Why carry a big knife and use it like a maniac if you're really a nice godfather? 

As far as GOF, I found myself wondering why on earth Moody/Crouch didn't just grab Harry earlier - why did we have to wait and wait and wait for the very end of the tournament?  No one knew who Moody really was.  Crouch could have gotten away with it.  It bothered me. 
Eh.  I know these things really didn't occur to me on first read.  I just devoured them and loved it. The hazards of a reread, I guess.

Read-alikes:
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Ranger's Apprentice by John Flanagan
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS (for both):
s-factor: !
a few here and there


mrg-factor: none
not even the snogging yet


v-factor: ->->->

POA is less so, but GOF is quite violent

Overall rating: **** (me)  ***** (hubby)


I managed to get this up during Devourer of Books' Audiobook week!  What do you think of these audiobooks?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review: How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date: October 2009
ISBN: 9780545107082
Source: Library

How To Say Goodbye In Robot

Beatrice's family just moved to a new town and she's hoping to make new friends, even if her mother thinks she is a robot without feelings.  She begins an unlikely friendship with an odd boy from school, Jonah, often called ghost boy by his classmates.  They form an unusual friendship, bonding over a late night radio show.  When Beatrice learns more about Jonah's family, she begins to understand his gloomy look on life and his desire to fade away.  Will her friendship be enough to keep Jonah around or will he disappear from her life forever?

Things I Liked:
This was definitely not your typical YA book.  I think I felt pretty torn about this one - loving it one minute and disliking it the next.  The characters are totally interesting - I love Bea and Jonah and how they interact, their emotions and relationships felt very real.  I thought their quirks and oddities were fun.  I laughed through lots of the book, even as I nearly cried over some parts of their relationship.  This is definitely not like anything I've ever really read.  I thought it was refreshing, however, to have a book about people who don't really fit in and who don't really want to fit in.  They're weird and they admit it and that's ok with them.  The story itself is also pretty heartbreaking.  You wanted to step in and try to save the characters, but it was impossible.  Unique, intriguing, different, quirky, odd, bitter-sweet.  All words to describe this book.


Things I Didn't Like:
Bea was kind of an idiot at times, particularly with her mother.  I can see that it was part of her character to be oblivious, but it bothered me.  Also, where are the parents who might be concerned when their daughter goes away for a few days with a strange guy?  Or who comes home drunk or does drugs?  Seriously, the complete unconcern of nearly every adult figure in the book annoyed me to no end.  I know that teenagers do all those things, but are parents really that blind or do they really not care? 


Read-alikes:
The only thing I could think of was Going Bovine by Libba Bray, because it is totally wacky too


BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:  
s-factor: !@#$
plenty


mrg-factor: X
mostly implied or off stage


v-factor: none

Overall rating: *** or ****


Have you read this?  What did you think?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hello, Books!

 (hosted by Marg of Adventures of an Intrepid Reader and Eva of A Striped Armchair)

More looting and pillaging (really, I get a lot of entertainment out of calling it library loot).  It's been a bit crazy this week - books on hold, packages in the mail.  Really, I think I might just be drowning in books.  Which sounds like a good way to go.

The Passage by Justin Cronin
Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve (reloot)
Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Sovay by Celia Rees
The Kings of Clonmel by John Flanagan
This Book is Not Good For You by Pseudonymous Bosch (reloot)
Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

For review:
Ivy's Ever After by Dawn Lairamore
I So Don't Do Makeup by Barries Summy
Bitter Frost by Kailin Gow (goodreads first read)
Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing
Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance by Sarah Poole
 
Anyone else drowning in books?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review: Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia by Brandon Sanderson

Alcatraz Versus The Knights Of Crystallia by Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date: October 2009
ISBN: 9780439925556
Source: Library

Alcatraz Versus The Knights Of Crystallia

This book continues the adventures of Alcatraz Smedry.  Alcatraz is making his way to the Nalhalla, a free kingdom and his home city, with his father and grandfather when they run into a little bit of an accident.  They finally make it there, only to discover a plot by librarians to get the free kingdom of Mokia in exchange for peace.  But, do they really mean to keep that bargain?  Alcatraz must try to discover their true purpose in Nalhalla and protect the kingdoms from evil librarians.  Again.

Things I Liked:
I love the snarky, sarcastic, talking straight to the reader tone of the book.  I love also how Sanderson isn't afraid to make fun of himself and other tropes of literature today.  Each chapter seems to start with a very random bit of information, and yet is humorous enough that you keep reading anyway.  The story is funny and adventurous and you want to know what happens, even if he drops a hundred foreshadowing comments throughout the book.  And, of course, I love the evil librarian aspect.  I kept trying to limit myself from marking every page I thought was funny, so that I didn't have this whole post filled with a bunch of favorite quotes.  Here are a few I finally settled on.

Definition of "crapaflapnasti": "Adj. Used to describe an item that is as disgusting as fish sticks." (Note: This word can only be used to describe fish sticks themselves, as nothing has yet been found that is equally crapaflapnasti.  Though the unclean, moldy, cluttered space under Brandon Sanderson's bed comes close.) p 14
Of all the things in the world that come close to being crapaflapnastic, responsibility is the most terrible.  It makes people eat salads instead of candy bars, and makes them go to bed early of their own free choice.  When you're about to launch yourself into the air strapped to the back of a rocket-propelled penguin, it's that blasted responsibility that warns you that the flight might not be good for your insurance premiums. p 30-31
Fame is like a cheeseburger.  It might not be the best or most healthy thing to have, but it will still fill you up.  You don't really care how healthy something is when you've been without it for so long.  Like a cheeseburger, fame fills a need, and it tastes so good going down.  It isn't until years later that you realized what it has done to your heart. p 73-74
Summarizing is when you take a story that is complicated and interesting, then stick it in the microwave until it shrivels up into a tiny piece of black crunchy tarlike stuff.  A wise man once said, "Any story, no matter how good, will sound really, really dumb when you shorten it to a few sentences." p 107
Now, you may have gotten the impression that there are absolutely no uses for Librarians.  I'm sorry if I implied that.  Librarians are very useful.  For instance, they are useful if you are fishing for sharks and need some bait.  They're also useful for throwing out windows to test the effects of concrete impact on horn-rimmed glasses. p 187
Things I Didn't Like:
I think reading more than one of these books in a row might make the humor and the talking to the reader aspect get old.  I thought the book was just the right length to not make me annoyed, but others might disagree.  One at a time is best for full enjoyment, although I had forgotten what happened in the previous books.  Apparently it didn't matter too much. Tween boys (and girls) will love this series!


Read-alikes:
The Secret series by Pseudonymous Bosch 

A little like the Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Read the first two books in the Alcatraz series

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:  
s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
a little bit, very mild


Overall rating: ****

How do you like humor in books - subtle or snarky or outright funny?

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, June 21, 2010

Listless Monday, Summer Edition

Listless Monday was inspired by both Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity's feature Books by Theme and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

(my brother and I in the tiny backyard pool)

I am so happy summer has officially arrived!  I admit that this is my favorite time of year - I like it hot.  So, in honor of the official start of summer and the longest day of the year, I bring you a list of summer-y books.  

Summer Books:

Artsy-Fartsy by Karla Oceanak

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeffy Kinney
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
The Ghost, the Eggheads, and Babe Ruth's Piano by Larry Sweitzer
It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han
The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees
Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta
My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-garcia
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Short Circus by Stephen V. Masse (suggested by Britt)
A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson
A Summer Affair: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand 
The Summer Book by Tove Janssen (suggested by Andie)
Summer House: A Novel by Nancy Thayer 
The Summer I Got a Life by Mark Fink
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
That Summer by Sarah Dessen
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff
The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis


I know I'm missing tons, so I'd love your suggestions!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Bit of a Pig

  
I've got another A Bit of Me(Me) post this week (hosted by There's a Book).

The question for this week is "Are you an animal person?"  I guess this is the part where I confess to being a librarian and not liking cats.  I'm not really much of a dog person either.  I'll admit a huge part of this is because I am allergic to most hairy animals.  However, I have had pets in my life and I thought it would be fun to mention them.

I come from a big family, so my parents probably felt like taking care of eight kids was enough without a pet.  Then came the day my sister got to take home the class guinea pigs.  There were two of them - a black and white one with a crazy head cowlick, and a white, orange and grey one.  She named them Wooshka and Booshka.  Though we all enjoyed the squeaking and the fun we had with them in our back yard, my dad fell hardest of all for them.  He would imitate their squeaks and talk to them like small children.  He simply adored them.  We even found some home video footage he took of himself squeaking and speaking to them while feeding them carrots.  But, obviously, when they died rather violently at the paws of a neighborhood cat, none of us wanted to become quite so attached to the little creatures again.  We did get my dad another, called Oynque, but after he died as well, there were no more.  He prefers to stick with stuffed animal pigs - they don't die and break your heart.  So, we've been a pretty pet-less family since then. 


Photobucket Photobucket
Oynque keeping our lawn trimmed.

My dad enjoying his stuffed pig.

What about you?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, June 18, 2010

Book Review: March by Geraldine Brooks

March by Geraldine Brooks
Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: March 2005
ISBN: 9780143036661
Source: Library

March
 
This is the unwritten story of Mr. March, father of the more famous four girls in Little Women.  While still a young idealist, peddling wares in the South, Mr. March meets Grace, an educated black woman with a fiery spirit.  He gets his first taste of the horrors associated with slavery while there.  Now, as an enlisted chaplain in the Union army, Mr. March must reconcile his idealist feelings with the harsh realities of war and the brutality of mankind.  While his wife and four daughters try to survive on very little, he must try to survive at all and conceal the real terrors that he faces both on the battlefield and off.

Things I Liked:
The writing really is beautiful - the descriptions pull you right into the action where you smell, feel, see, and experience all that the characters do (much to my dismay in reading about battles).  Brooks creates compelling situations and characters that are good but flawed, people who make mistakes.  I love the final part of the book where we get to see Marmee's reactions to everything and hear what she has to say about what her husband has done and experienced.  Marmee was without doubt my favorite character - I really liked when he remembered how she was when they first met - fiery and full of passion.  The book describes, without excuse, the daily brutality of war and of slavery during the Civil War.  Powerful and moving in its gruesome details.  Also, I couldn't help but fall in love with some of the idealist sentiments mentioned in the book.  Here are some favorite quotes:

"I've always imagined paradise as something like a library." p 17
"But, sir, surely the very condition of enslavement, not the slaves' inherent nature, must account for such lapses of honor.  The heart is a crimson organ, be it within white breast or in black, and surely wickedness may dwell alike in either." p 25
""I am, indeed, a 'chapel man,' who carries within himself all that's needed for worship.  At last, it is possible to have a part in faith without carved pulpit or Gothic arch, without lace altar cloth and without robes, save my suit of unornamented black." p 58
"But perhaps one day I will be entrusted with daughters of my own, and if so, I swear I will not see their minds molded into society's simpering ideal of womanhood.  Oh, how I would like to raise writers and artists who would make the world acknowledge what women can do!" p 64
"The brave man, the real hero, quakes with terror, sweats, feels his very bowels betray him, and in spite of this moves forward to do the act he dreads...Sometimes, true courage requires inaction; that one sit at home while war rages, if by doing so one satisfies the quiet voice of honorable conscience." p168
"You cannot right injustice by injustice.  You must not defame God by preaching that he wills young men to kill one another.  For what manner of God could possibly will what I see here?  There are Confederates lying in this hospital, they say; so there is union at last, a united states of pain." p 210
"I hoped so hard that Hope seemed to take corporeal form, my thoughts and wishes reaching out to him and wrapping themselves around him, as avidly as my body had wrapped around him when we both were young.  I wanted to transplant my vivid spirit within his depleted one, to root out the memories that troubled his sleep and sow in their place a vision of every good moment we had spent together.  So I sat by his bed, all day and into the evening, whispering reminiscences of sunlit days and crisp fall apples, of girlish laughter and great minds brilliant with new ideas." p 255
Things I Didn't Like:
I really hated Mr. March.  He was not a likable person and it makes you wonder, sometimes what his wife saw in him, other than a foolish idealist.  Also, it was too graphic for my tastes - I'm sure it was accurate and entirely true to the experiences of war, but I don't really have the stomach for it.  My book group really loathed the book in general (though most of them hadn't finished the book when we came to discuss it).  The fact that Mr. March didn't exactly fit into the character we all imagined from Little Women really turned everyone off from it.  I found that I could enjoy it more if I forgot that fact.  Also, we figured that some of the dislike was because of our personal beliefs and not because of the book's lack of merit.  I'm kind of torn on this one - while recognizing its merit and beauty, I really didn't enjoy it.  


Read-alikes:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is related (obviously)


BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:  
s-factor: !@
a few


mrg-factor: XX
a couple of scenes


v-factor: ->->->->->
quite graphic, quite common


Overall rating: ***

How do you rate well-written by not so enjoyable (for you) books?
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Candlewick
Publication date: February 2010
ISBN: 978-0763643614
Source: Library

Finnikin of the Rock

Finnikin was just a child when he and his two childhood friends made a blood promise to keep their homeland of Lumatere safe.  He was so young when the king and queen and all their children were slaughtered and the curse fell upon Lumatere, trapping those within and exiling those without.  Now, ten years later, Finnikin has been roaming the outer lands, waiting for the time when they could return to break the curse.  When he is mysteriously led to Evanjalin, a young novice who has strange visions, they might finally be ready to return.

Things I Liked:
This is a lovely fantasy, filled with unique and interesting different cultures.  I loved how Marchetta created so much history in one kingdom, and then several others as well, almost as side notes!  It reminded me of Lord of the Rings rich depth.  It is a story full of other smaller stories that you long to know about.  I liked the characters, though I think I was more drawn to minor characters than the major ones.  The story was interesting and kept me wanting to read on and see how things turned out.  I thought the inner workings of the minds of exiles and leaders was very interesting as well.  Some favorite parts:

"Balthazar, you are not the ruler of this kingdom yet, and even when you are, you will eat at the table like a human being." p 64-65
"That men could conquer kingdoms and fight armies of such power and might, yet not be able to offer comfort to one so beloved.  Where Finnikin's wish was to have the power to remove the ugliness of memory, Trevanion's was to have the gift of words needed to bring solace to his son." p 332
Things I Didn't Like:
I kind of knew what was going to happen very early on.  I'm not usually the kind of person to guess what's coming, but this one was fairly obvious to me.  I thought the ending wrapped up very neatly, without much difficulty for the main characters.  The fantasy elements involved in the ending were not very clear to me - I kind of had no real idea what was happening and was a bit disappointed in how they were described.  Also, Finnikin is something of an idiot much of the time.  Particularly in relation to Evanjalin.


Read-alikes:
Reminded me of Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore and also Crown and Court Duel by Sherwood Smith


BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: !@
some, not too strong


mrg-factor: XX
not usually descriptive, but plenty of jokes and innuendo


v-factor: ->->->
rather gory in its detailed descriptions


Overall rating: ***

How do you like your fantasy - high, low, paranormal, not at all?
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Library Loot (and Movie Obsessions)


I've been kind of in a library slump (again) and didn't get anything for a while.  But, suddenly, my holds are back in action.  Here they are this week:

The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw
The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
Darklight by Lesley Livingston
Iron King by Julie Kagawa
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Son of Shadows by Juliet Marillier (again - I swear I'll get to it this time!)
Harry Potter #5-7 by J.K. Rowling (on audio, we WILL finish this challenge if it kills us!)


I also got two for review:
We Shall Overcome by Stuart Stotts
Manifest by Artist Arthur


Photobucket
And since I spaced it last Saturday, I'm adding my A Bit of Me(Me) post (hosted at There's a Book) today (and probably another this Saturday - won't you just be sick of me and my personal info). 

This week, we are talking about our favorite movies.  I'm kind of sad to admit that my husband and I don't watch many movies - at least not new ones.  I thought it would be fun, though, to look at how my favorites have changed over time.  I used to be the kind of person who would obsess over a movie for a while and then find a new one to obsess about.  My first favorite movie (that I recall) is:


Sleeping Beauty (Two-Disc Platinum Edition)
Yes, Sleeping Beauty was the movie I would beg my parents to get every time we went to the rental store.  I've watched it a few times in my "old age" and realized - it ain't that great. :)

Next, I moved on to the "I adore this cute movie character phase"

Newsies (Collector's Edition)  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers 
I would watch Newsies and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers over and over again.  To this day, I can still quote, sing, and probably dance both movies.  I was in love with Jack and Davey (and Spot) from Newsies and I probably picked a different brother to love each week from Seven Brides.  

Then, I went through my classic book turned movie phase, which lasted up until a few years ago.  During this time I adored:

Gone with the Wind (Two-Disc 70th Anniversary Edition)  Jane Eyre (BBC, 1983)  Pride and Prejudice - The Special Edition (A&E, 1996) 
Sense & Sensibility (Special Edition)  Emma  The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Theatrical Editions + Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] 
Actually, I still love most of these ones and would consider Pride and Prejudice and Lord of the Rings all-time favorites. 

And, for kicks, one of my more recent favorites is:


Amazing Grace
So, there you have it - my tastes over the years :)

Got a favorite movie to share or something good you got at the library?
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Review: Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull

Fablehaven:Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Publication date: March 2010
ISBN: 9781606412381
Source: Library

Fablehaven, Book 5:Keys to the Demon Prison

This is the final installment of the exciting Fablehaven series.  Seth and Kendra and the Knights of the Dawn must beat the Sphinx to the last keys to the demon prison.  They travel to distant and hidden preserves, hoping to get there before the Sphinx and to prevent him from recovering what they already have.  As new twists and surprises arise, it is a time for alliances between all those who want the world as they know it to survive.  Will that be enough?

Things I Liked:
Non-stop action.  I love how many twists and turns the story took.  It was a hard path and not everything went right, which I think is a great thing for a kid's book.  I also love how the ending was not what was expected.  Bad guys are not all bad.  What a crazy imagination Mull has with so many different creatures and magical beings and unique settings.  I definitely think it rivals Harry Potter in imagination.  I used to not like Seth much.  He makes mistakes and acts like a moron.  But, he grew on me and I really enjoyed his humor in this one. Um, I had a lot of quotes I liked:

"Seth continued to mourn for the lost hand.  He could have hidden it beneath Kendra's covers.  He could have tied a string around it and left it dangling from a shower head.  He could have displayed it proudly on a shelf in his room.  He quietly vowed to keep all of these possibilities in mind if a severed zombie hand ever fell into his lap again." p 27
"All right.  Since the world is about to end, why not give an impossible jailbreak one last try?" p 152
"Hello, cell.  How are you?  Still dank and horrible?  Sorry to hear it. Me?  I've decided to take up a new hobby.  Talking to my room.  It's a lot like talking to myself, but slightly more pathetic." p 181
"Making mistakes is part of learning to choose well.  No way around it.  Choices are thrust upon us, and we don't always get things right.  Even postponing or avoiding a decision can become a choice that carries heavy consequences.  Mistakes can be painful - sometimes they cause irrevocable harm - but welcome to Earth.  Poor choices are part of growing up, and part of life.  You will make bad choices, and you will be affected by the poor choices of others.  We must rise above such things." p 279
"I have to believe our wills are stronger than the allure of some fruit," Bracken said.  "To be slain by a troll or a chimera would be sad.  But to destroy ourselves to scratch an itch would be so pathetic I refuse to accept the possibility." p 293-294
"I believe this name makes reference to this moment. No star can abide the light of the dawn, nor has evil ever loved light." p 527
"Some imagine the difference between heaven and hell to be a matter of geography. Not so.  The difference is much more evident in the individuals who dwell there." p 562
Things I Didn't Like:
It seemed a little bit long.  But enjoyable anyway, because I couldn't put it down.  Definitely a good one for both boys and girls and big fantasy fans.


Read-alikes:
Read the first four books in the Fablehaven series

It isn't exactly similar to Harry Potter, but I think some fans will like it as much

BOOK CONTENT RATINGS:
s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->
fighting is common, but not gory


Overall rating: ****

 Have you read this series?  What did you think?

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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