Friday, September 2, 2016

August Reads

Holy moly, I read a lot in August! About half and half graphic novels and novel-novels. In the interest of not writing a million words, I'll keep it short and sweet.

Of Neptune (Anna Banks)- The final book in the mermaid trilogy I talked about reading last month. It was pretty meh. It got very Twilight-y for me, which doesn't ALWAYS have to be bad, but the love triangle and the very controlling boyfriend and the teen angst sexual tension felt boring. Overall I thought it was a pretty meh ending. Seemed too easy and tidy to me. The conflict between characters just kind of magically disappeared instead of actually being resolved. There was some good action though and some more interesting mermaid mythology woven in there.

Little Robot (Ben Hatke)- This is a graphic novel composed of illustrations and not text. It is adorable and wonder-filled and the kid body language is spot on. Every little kid that likes pictures books will love this book. Kittens, a feisty little girl and robots?! Yes please.

The Paper Magician (Charlie N. Holmberg)- This book is set in an alternate universe England where magic exists and the magically inclined can choose to bond with one material and master it. Ceony, a young magic school graduate, is forced into Paper Folding, a dying magical art, but discovers that it's actually quite marvelous. And then of course all hell breaks loose. I really really enjoyed this book! I thought the characters were lovely and the relationships they built were interesting and it was such a new plot idea to me! Material magics. Magicking paper or metal or glass or plastic or whatever the case maybe be. The back story was so intricate and thought out and displayed for the reader in really interesting and beautiful ways.

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 (Daved Petersen)- This graphic novel kind of read as a little Red Wall-ish to me. But I guess any sort of book about warrior rodents might. It was a beautiful book. Drawn lavishly. Bright pages. Lovely to look at. The story felt a little underdeveloped for a fantasy story but there is something to be said for simplicity. It's marketed (or at least my library had it so) for 8+ but I'm not sure I'd let my particular 8 year old read this. Maybe 10+. There are some deaths and I know my kid would be pretty upset by that.

Zita the Spacegirl (Ben Hatke)- Another Hatke graphic novel. And actually, to save myself some time, I'm going to go ahead and talk about the entire trilogy here in this one space instead of making 3 separate entries. A little girl gets transported through time and space and winds up somewhere nutso out in the universe and makes a bunch of neat friends and these are all the stories of her adventures. A great female hero and really interesting side characters make for such a good book. The illustrations are beautiful and bright and attention grabbing, the story lines are perfect for children and it only gets better as the series progresses. Plus it's also an online comic so you can keep up with Zita after the books are done! Hatke is a genius. Highly recommend his graphic novels for all kiddos.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Chris Grabenstein)- The gist is this- a highly eccentric bajillionaire builds a library in a town that hasn't had one for 12 years. Before the library is opened to the public a bunch of 12 year olds are given the opportunity to sleep over but when they wake up they realize that a game is afoot. If they can figure out how to escape the library using library resources they will win big! I really wanted to love this book. It had good moments. My main problem with it was that the characters were SO one dimensional. They fell flat. I didn't really care about any of them or care who won the game. The best thing to be said for this book is that it is absolutely overflowing with a love of books and libraries, and that's wonderful! It's very much a Willy Wonka like feeling but for books instead of candy.

Trigger Warning (Neil Gaiman)- Continuing my reading of all things Gaiman, I ordered this book of short stories after reading a story from the collection in my book store. Most of the tales are quite spooky. I really enjoyed it so much. I liked that in the front of the book he explained the inspiration behind each story so you can get some behind the scenes of writing the book. The stories were all really great and if you are a lover of BBC shows it has some fun surprises for you in delightful Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes tales.

 The Glass Magician (Charlie N. Holmberg)- This is the 2nd novel in the Paper Magician trilogy and it was thrilling. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of reading this book. I say again, such an imaginative and interesting idea to have these different magicians all bonded to a material and that is their field of study and magic. The characters are sweeping and the romance isn't overpowering to the story and is really very sweet and the tale itself is scary and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Cleopatra In Space (Mike Maihack)- A young Cleopatra is transported thousands of years into a future where she is meant to be the savior of a universe. The first book is all about her first few months of school and her first mission. I can see where it would be really thrilling for kids, and indeed my own children have been reading it and really enjoy it. The illustrations are great and kind of old school comic feeling. Again, it's so nice to have another fun, fast paced, adventurous graphic novel with a great female protagonist.

The World Will Follow Joy (Alice Walker)- Last but not least, a collection of poems by the gifted and beauty-filled Alice Walker. There were quite a few that stood out to me in a personal way (namely When You See Water and My Desire) and they have stayed with me since I read it.

Upward and onward to September and maybe even some Fall weather to look forward to! I'm looking for some spooky Halloween reads to start later this month/early next month. If you have any suggestions for a good Halloween book, let me know! Happy reading.

Monday, August 15, 2016

July Reads

It's the middle of August and I'm only just sitting down (at 2 in the morning) to write my August reads post. It has been a hella busy month so far. The kids started school on Monday and the week before that was preparation for school and moving my mother to a new house etc etc etc. I am wide awake though so lets bust this post out while I can!

The Goose Girl (Shannon Hale)- Not wanting to give too much away about this I'll just say it's a fairy tale retelling about a young princess with the gift of animal speak. It was a beautiful story. My favorite retelling I've ever read. I found out after I'd read this that there are more books! It's a series! That is the best news I've had all year.

Ingo (Helen Dunmore)- Sapphy's father, a man notorious for his love of the ocean, mysteriously disappears off the coast of the family home. Sapphy begins to feel a pull to the ocean and when she notices her brother going missing for hours at a time she starts to realize she is not the only one. I wanted more mermaid stories in my life and this caught my eye. It was an interesting read. I gave it 3/5 stars on Goodreads. Good bones and a surprising ending but the character development and the relationships felt a little off for me personally. I might continue on with the series. I'm curious to see how it progresses.

Of Poseidon (Anna Banks)- Galen and Emma have an obvious connection from their very first meeting. Galen knows something about her that Emma hasn't realized yet and it's his mission to set her on the right path and protect her in the meantime. I thought this would be more lighthearted than it was. Be warned, it gets pretty heavy very early on. There were some good parts and not so good parts. The good- mermaids and mermaid lore, interesting plot idea, swoon worthy cover, great characters. The bad- very Twilight-ish romance and insta-love. It's a good fluffy read if you're looking for a fun beach book.

The House of Hades (Rick Riordan)- I keep saying the most recent Percy Jackson book is my favorite but this one is REALLY my favorite. I enjoyed it so much. The character growth is so great in these books. A pro of characters growing up in the books. The relationships get even stronger, the story gets more interesting and harrowing, there are really awesome new monster characters introduced/reintroduced and more adventure than you know what to do with. Love love love. Gush gush gush. Sad that the series is nearly over for us.

Serafina and the Black Cloak (Robert Beatty)- Set in the Biltmore estate, Serafina has lived her entire life hiding in the basement of the estate where her Pa works. But when children start vanishing in the night Serafina is the only person who knows who the terrifying culprit is- the main in the black cloak. She sets out to uncover the mans identity and save the children. This was a slow build for me but when it finally got to the adventurous parts it took off. It was wonderful and spooky and uplifting. Definitely a book that the kids would love. Something fun to reach for come October, maybe.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman)- Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. I finished this book weeks ago and I am still thinking about it and already wanting to read it again. It is beautifully nostalgic. It was short and scary and held such a feeling of childhood in its pages and when I finished I felt this sad heaviness in my chest because I knew something beautiful had ended. I will own this book and I will buy it for my friends and family. It was a very good book. 

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness)- I don't want to say anything about the plot. I feel like the less you know the better it is. I implore you to read this before the movie comes out. I honestly don't think a movie will do the feelings of this book justice. I finished this book in one sitting. At 2 in the morning I turned the last page and read it and then I stayed up another hour thinking about it and sitting with it and crying over it and enjoying the fact that a book like this exists. The illustrations were stunning. The words on the pages took my breath away. I immediately purchased a copy of it. Read this book. 

Of Triton (Anna Banks)- In the interest of not giving away anything about the first book of this trilogy I won't mention the plot. I will say that the romance got a little better for me. Less overbearing. I enjoyed this book more than the first. Another very good fluffy read if you're looking for a fun mermaid story. Definitely read the first book first or you will be all sorts of lost.

And that's a wrap on July. So far August has one very good book finished and a handful of graphic novels done and dusted. I hope wherever you are you have a good book for company. Happy reading, friends.

Friday, July 1, 2016

June Reads

This June we spent a week at the beach and I got much less reading done than I anticipated but it was still a pretty good reading month and I read some interesting stuff.

James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl)- James accidentally drops his magic crystals by the peach tree and before he knows it the peach at the top of the tree has grown as big as a house. After finding a secret entrance into the peach he makes friends with an assortment of bug pals and starts off on an adventure across the ocean. I think reading The BFG first was a mistake because so far no other Dahl book has stood out as much to me. Maybe I'm expecting too much of them because The BFG was such a superb piece of story telling. I'd been looking forward to this book for a while and it was okay but it just felt like things kept happening to the character and they'd all sit around exclaiming about the same thing. That was the extent of the dialogue. Or the bugs would be like 'James fix it!' and that was it. The ending was quite lovely, though. Much better than Matilda, which was rather abrupt.

In the Woods (Tana French)- Twenty years after a childhood trauma, Rob Ryan finds himself back in his childhood home town as a detective on a murder case of a young girl. The case is chillingly similar to his own unsolved mystery. With most of his memory of the trauma missing, Ryan has the chance to solve the murder and his own mystery once and for all. This was a thrilling story. It was engaging and character driven and beautifully written. My favorite mystery/thriller/detective story I've ever read. I'll definitely read more of the Dublin Murder Squad.

The Accident Season (Moira Fowley-Doyle)- The accident season comes at the same time every year. For a month strange accidents leave Cara's family bruised, cut, shattered and sometimes worse. With layers of clothing and padding on the furniture they all try to survive. This book was craaaazyyyy. In a great way. I was so intrigued by this idea of an accident season and people not being able to escape injuries no matter how careful they were. But it's so much more than that. There's a thrilling plot line and wonderful characters and growth. The book builds and builds until the beautiful ending that leaves you going whaaaat.

The Mark of Athena (Rick Riordan)- Percy and pals getting into trouble trying to save the world again! This book brought back Annabeth which was awesome because I love her. I loved that this book had such a focus on her and her parentage. There was a lot in the story about the power of thought and problem solving and I really enjoy that her character is such an embodiment of that. 

Daughters of the Sea- Hannah (Kathryn Lasky)- Spoilery- This book is hard for me to describe because there's not much I can say without giving it away so don't read if you don't want to know! I was looking for a mermaid book for the beach and my tiny, farm town library happened to have this in stock so I grabbed it and it was pretty meh. There's a mermaid but not until the last few pages and the story before that is pretty dull. The characters are boring until the very end of the book. A lot of questions go unanswered. The plot is spread too thinly across too many pages. Where there should have been a building of anticipation for the big reveal it fell flat. I don't know if I'll carry on with the series. I'm interested but mostly because it's mermaids and I love mermaids, not this particular story. It had such potential but it never got its junk together enough.

Daddy-Long-Legs (Jean Webster)- Jerush Abbott, an 18 year old orphan, is given an opportunity of a life time- an anonymous millionaire has agreed to pay for her education in exchange for one letter a month telling him of her studies. Daddy-Long-Legs is written through letters from Judy to Daddy. I read this book pretty often. At least every couple of years. My worn out, torn copy is one of my favorite possessions. I first read this book as a 13 year old girl (so my copy is 16 years old) and fell so hard for it that I have continuously kept coming back to it like a favorite comfort food. It's good for my soul. Judy is so lovable and wonderful and her tales are enchanting and fun. I will always keep going back for this book.
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory (Caitlin Doughty)- A licensed mortician tells her experience as a crematory operator through witty and eye opening stories about how we view death in our society and how we treat the dead. I was so excited to read this book and it did not disappoint. I learned so much and I'm still thinking about this book a week later. It's poignant and funny and makes you seriously consider how we as a society try to hide death and how we treat the dead. It goes into some possibly triggering scenes, such as baby cremation and an unfortunate circumstance of a cremation machine screw up that leads to some.. melted human remains, for lack of better terminology, but in my experience with the book nothing was over the top or grotesque. It was all very respectful and humbling. A great read.

That's it for June! Another month dusted. Hard to believe half the year has gone by! Have you read anything about death or the caring for the dead? I find myself very curious to continue on and find some more books on the subject. If you have any recs, let me know! 

Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

May Reads- Part 2

I have been laaaaazy this month. It doesn't help that we were out of town for a week and that summer has happened and my hands are full with 2 kids. So part 2 of my two part reading recap for May is happening just two days before July but hey. Better late than never.

I talked about how much I'd read in May Reads- Part 1 and it was a lot. You can check out that post for the first half. Now onto the second act!

Ivy + Bean (Annie Barrows)- Ivy and Bean just know that they can never be friends. But when Bean plays a joke on her sister and needs a place to hide, Ivy comes to the rescue and the two begin a mini afternoon adventure where they discover that sometimes you find a best friend in the last person you thought you would. I read this aloud with my 5 year old and loved it. Super duper loved it. We'd been wanting to read it for a while and then magically our library had it all of a sudden so I took it is a sign. The characters are quirky and fun and smart and hilarious. I see some people complaining that they don't like how the protagonists are deliberately 'bad' and getting into trouble and they think it sets up a bad example for children reading the story but in my opinion it's not as though they are doing anything harmful. Practical jokes and whatnot aren't going to make your kids the antichrist. It's a fun story with fun girls and I like that the girls aren't boxed into 'girlish' things. They have a variety of interests.

The Secret Keeper (Kate Morton)- As a teenager Laurel witnesses a shocking crime that involves her mother, Dorothy. After years of secrecy Dorothy is ailing and Laurel realizes it could be her last chance to discover what happened that day so long ago. Against a backdrop of WWII London and a past that takes us all the way into the 60's and beyond, we explore Dorothy's past to find out what happened and why. THIS BOOK. It was so good. My favorite of hers so far. I was disappointed when it was over because it was just that great. It's such a beautiful story and Morton spins history so well and the characters were amazing and flawed and jumping off the page at you. It's all told in Morton's signature style of weaving back and forth in time and it could not have been better. So loved it.

The Twits (Roald Dahl)- The Twits are smelly and ugly and mean. The only things they like doing are catching birds for Bird Pie and making their caged monkeys, the Muggle-Wumps, do tricks. But the Muggle-Wumps have had enough and are out for freedom... and revenge. This book was just eh. A really quick read at the very least. 

 Matilda (Roald Dahl)- Matilda is a little girl with a lot of brain power. She can do double digit multiplication in her head and read any book. When she is faced with negligent and abusive parents and an evil headmistress the only way to deal with it is with smart revenge. I read this with my first born. I think he was a little bored, to be honest. I was into it, though. I admit that I loved the movie a little more. I think the characters in the movie were funnier and more heart warming and just kind of... fuller. More rounded out. BUT the book is still great! Very similar story line to the movie. The great thing about Matilda is that even though she's a super genius girl and she is heaping all this revenge on these buttheads, you love her and root for her because she has big feelings and she's still just a kid who doesn't understand the world or why people can be so mad. A great book for readers too.

The Scorch Trials (James Dashner)- No synopsis because I don't want to give anything away. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. More than the first.I had heard that the first was great and then the rest of the series disappointed but I definitely felt the opposite this time. The first was very meh for me. It was predictable and I didn't think there was any character growth or really anything drawing you to the characters and making you root for them. In The Scorch Trials I was pleasantly caught off guard by much of the story line and I think the characters started to get more flushed out. 

The Death Cure (James Dashner)- Again, no synopsis because I don't want to spoil anything. This book fell flat for me in most ways. Similar complaints. No character growth, the characters keep getting into dumb situations, etc. SPOILER WARNING. I hated Theresa's relationship with Thomas. I thought Thomas was a big baby about it. I didn't understand why one girl could lie to him and he didn't even think about remaining friends and continuing to trust her but another girl lies to him to save his life and she's a manipulative b who can't be trusted ever again. The love triangle got on my nerves. The only good things about this book for me were Newts storyline, even though it was depressing (but at least there was growth and change and you felt something for a character) and the ending because it felt like a nice, tidy way to end things and also kind of like the only option. 

Vengeance Road (Erin Bowman)- After her father is tortured and murdered by a gang of outlaws for a journal that contains a map to a hidden gold mine, Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and rides out looking for revenge. This is my very first western! I honestly picked it out for it's beautiful cover. I mean COME ON. That covered is amazing, right? I want to own this book 1000% for the cover alone BUT it's also a great book. I really enjoyed this. I thought it grew beautifully. The characters were so fleshed out and great. Definitely enraging at points because humans are frustrating creatures but their flaws were part of what made the book work for me. I loved that this was a YA Western but stayed true to Western style and wasn't watered down with romance. It's gritty and dirty and gross and full of shoot outs and revenge and gold and saloons and cowboys. Bowman even wrote it in the cowboy dialect and I loved that. The quest for revenge felt real and blood thirsty. Aces. This book was an awesome way to end May. 

And with that I am finally done recapping all of my books for May. June will be much easier. Not a lot of reading has been done. 

I hope wherever and whoever you are, you have a great book to keep you company. Happy reading.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

May Reads- Part 1

I read A LOT last month. I didn't keep track of it like I usually do so it's a very daunting thing to sit down and try to type out thoughts on 14 books. Hence why this is 'part 1'. I'll break this into 2 parts so that it's not so harrowing for me, myself and I and it's not a super long read for anyone out there in internet-land.

I did read a lot of really great books in May so lets get into it.

Julie and Julia (Julie Powell)- I think most everyone knows what this book is about. It was made into a movie a while back an I really enjoyed the movie so I wanted to experience the book. I was actually surprised by how different the 2 were. The movie goes much more into Julia Child's life where the book really only has a few blurbs about her. I also thought the movie kind of painted the author as a nicer person than she is in real life. That being said, I did really like the book. I related to the author a lot and it made me want to start a big project for my last year of my 20's.

The Maze Runner (James Dashner)- A dystopian adventure set in a glade surrounded by a huge stone maze that changes position. A group of boys with no memory of their lives before the glade are charged with discovering the secret of how to get through the maze and escape. I went into this with okay expectations so it wasn't that hard for it to go beyond what I thought it would be. Mostly what I could think the whole time was why don't they just tell Thomas what is going on already!!! Why do they have to act all secretive about the damn maze and what they are there for. Enlist his help. Stop being twerps. That frustrated me. But it was action packed for sure and it kept my attention although I never really felt very pulled to any of the characters and I didn't feel like there was any character development through it. A lot of the characters and the relationships between them seemed forced. I did like the story and I think it had a lot more potential than what was shown.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Benjamin Alire Saenz)- I don't feel like I can give this a proper description because I really don't want to give anything away. It was a gorgeous story woven so delicately and carefully it was like reading someone's thoughts. I read it with fervor. I ate it up. It reminded me of being a teenager and I really honestly feel like it should be required reading for all teens and young adults and even adult-adults because it's just such a good story and so easy to relate to no matter what stage of life you are in. I super duper triple hardcore recommend this books. Really great summer read too.

The Pigman (Paul Zindel)- High school students John and Lorraine pull a prank on a strange old man and unwittingly wander into a friendship with the man they dub 'the pigman'. I read this as a teen and wanted to try it again because I remembered it fondly. Eh. What a flop. There was like ZERO character development. Spoiler- the old dude dies (they tell you this in like the first couple of pages) and they are writing their story down but they don't seem to have LEARNED ANYTHING. They did all this awful shit and were total butts and then the dude dies and they are just like oh well. I mean. What a couple of twerps. I know there is a sequel and I have read it but I don't plan to read it again.

The Son of Neptune (Rick Riordan)- The 2nd book of The Heroes of Olympus finds Percy Jackson followed by monsters (what else is new) and heading right into the Roman demi-god camp. Our boy is back! I love Percy. I am really enjoying this series. I love the Roman side of it. This book was just like any other Riordan book. Full of prophecy and adventure and action and mad Gods and a short time span to get a big thing done. I am really enjoying the new characters.

Dorothy Must Die (Danielle Paige)- Amy Gumm is living her life in Kansas but a freak tornado blows through and lifts her right up and plops her down in... Oz? Turns out it's not like the movie anymore. Dorothy has turned evil and it's up to her and a band of wicked witches to do what needs to be done. Dorothy has to die. I really liked this. It's such a crazy retelling! I'm going to continue on with the series soon and find out what happens next. I will say though that the back of the damn book gives away the plot twist, which makes NO SENSE and made me VERY ANGRY. So like don't read the back of the book, man. Don't do it. I read the back and then I bought the book and read it and waited the whole book for the thing on the back and turns out it's the plot twist on the last few pages of the book. THE LAST FEW PAGE. I raged for like 10 minutes at my husband about the inhumanity of it all.

Paper Towns (John Green)- Q has been in love with his neighbor Margo since they were kids but after a strange happening when they were children they grew apart and have barely acknowledged each other.. until Margo climbs through his window one night and enlists his help in an elaborate pranking scheme. After their all nighter Q arrives at school to find she has taken off and he and his friends embark on a wild chase to find her. I like John Green as a human and I'd never read his books so I wanted to try something out. I read the first paragraph of Paper Towns and was hooked. It was such a lovely page of writing. However, the rest of the book fell flat for me. It was hilarious in parts and epic in parts and parts but overall there wasn't any character growth and the main characters really annoyed the shit out of me. Margo was such a butt. I hated her 'I'm not like every other girl' trope and how Q was trying to save her the whole time. The ending was pretty satisfactory for me but altogether, although it had many good qualities, it just didn't fit into a seamless good book.

That's half of my May reads and my fingers and brain need a break! Part 2 coming soon. Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


I've finally made my way through my giant stack of library books and I can jump into my recent book buys. Is anyone else like this? If you have library books you have to put your own books aside because of extreme anxiety about borrowing someone else's books and getting it back to them in a timely manner... it can't be just me. Anywho, I can't read my own books when I have library books. BUT THE PROBLEM IS I am always putting library books on hold because I hear of some great super cool new book that I want and I can't spend a ton of money on books all the time.... so my library stack is usually pretty big and usually added to like once a week at least. I had to put myself on a library ban. For real. I banned myself from checking out any more books. We still make weekly trips to the library for the kids so it.was.hard. I got through it and now I'm on the other side and I'm about to dive into my OWN books! Worth it in the end.

Getting into my May TBR- I made it a small stack so that I don't get overwhelmed so there will probably be more than this read but I like to underestimate myself so that later I can exceed my goal and be like way to go, April, you are so good at life and reading and book stuff.

Without further ado, the books I plan to read this month-

The Pigman (Paul Zindel)- This will be a reread for me. I remember really enjoying this book in high school so I'm hoping to still enjoy it. I found it at the used book store for 1 dollar and couldn't pass it up.

The Son of Neptune (Rick Riordan)- My ongoing read-out-loud book with the first born. I really enjoy this Heroes of Olympus series. I'm hoping we'll finish this up in the next couple of weeks.

Dorothy Must Die (Danielle Paige)- I've been scoping out local book shops and saw this at an adorable Beauty and the Beast library-esque place and just thought it looked and sounded cool. I love a good retelling.

The Maze Runner (James Dashner)- I've heard mixed things and I didn't know if I wanted to actually purchase this book but I found it in mint condition at a used book place and thought what the hell. I've actually just finished this one today and I really liked it.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Benjamin Alire Saenz)- I have heard nothing but good things about this book and I couldn't wait to get to it. I might read this one next. I mean, just the cover is beautiful.

I have a few other recent purchases in mind to start this month (maybe start the Mortal Instruments series finally?) but we'll see how it goes. No pressure!

That's it for me today. Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

April Reads

April reads- the good, the bad, and the wtf.

The Witches (Roald Dahl)- This is not a fairytale- it is a story about REAL witches. Disgusting, terrible, detestable witches that disguise themselves as nice old ladies. So how do you know when it's a real witch and not just an ordinary old lady? I never read Roald Dahl before the past year and just.. what have I been doing with my life! I adored this book. It was everything I could have ever hoped for. Dahl, that sweet pickled gerkin, is obviously a masterful artist of tale weaving and this is just another example of that.

 The Baby Sitter's Club #1 Kristy's Great Idea (Ann M. Martin)- Kristy and her friends all have babysitting gigs around town and love taking care of kids. Then Kristy gets a (you guessed it!) great idea- start a baby sitter's club! Four qualified sitters, one place to reach them. It has been years upon years since I read any BSB. I love them. Sure, it's like 3rd grade level reading. Whatever. Don't judge me. Still as cute as ever.

The Last Hunt (Bruce Coville)- The conclusion to The Unicorn Chronicles, we find the center of Luster, a vast, magical tree called the Axis Mundi, pierced through and dying by the magic of Beloved, who has finally found a way to enter Luster and finish the slaughtering of the unicorns that she started so many hundreds of years ago. The series is over! Sob. This was a great middle-grade read. I had a few da fuq moments in the past 3 books. If you've read them you can probably guess what they were. The conclusion of the series left me with a little to be desired. I didn't feel that everything was answered when I closed the book. Some lingering doubts, some scowls over things that happened, etc. Still action packed though and it did all come around and reveal itself for the most part by the last page.

How To Be a Woman (Caitlin Moran)- Moran browses through titillating subjects of womanhood (what is so wrong with body hair?) and interjects her feminist wonderings with sordid and often hilarious stories from her own life. I read this for Our Shared Shelf, the Emma Watson Feminist book club. Overall I gave it 4 stars (although after pondering it a bit I felt like it was more of a 3 star book for me) and I did enjoy a vast amount of it but some of it fell flat. It's a very personal book full of very personal opinions so I don't really think that what I have to say about it matters much, to be honest. I will say that there was a fair amount of casual racism and the word tranny was used at least once and that all made me feel a bit squeamish. I felt like the book was touted as being a feminist manifesto but overall it was just a memoir with some opinions thrown in and honestly, the way she used the word tranny and retard made me feel like she is just another white lady feminist and she isn't expanding feminism to be for all ages and races and abilities and genders. So. Eh. I liked it. I just didn't like some parts of it and I did not consider it a feminist book despite it being basically about female issues and such. I DID like the chapter on abortions though. A lot.

The Horse and His Boy (C.S. Lewis)- A young boy named Shasta is on the run to Narnia and freedom with a talking horse named Bree, a young girl named Aravis and her talking horse Hwin. They discover the plan by the Calormen to invade Narnia's neighbor and ally, Archenland. They hurry forward to arrive before the Calormen army and warn the king of the oncoming invasion. So... wow the racism of this book. I know, I know. It was a different time, blah blah blah. But still! It's hard to swallow. It spoiled the entire story. It could have been such a lovely, simple, little fantasy tale but the intense racism thrown onto the Calormen characters was just too much.

The Magician's Nephew (C. S. Lewis)- Diggory and Polly are tricked by Diggory's Uncle Andrew into entering a Wood Between Worlds. A wood full of pools that can lead them to entirely new worlds... The first world they enter gives them far more than they bargained for and a whole lot of adventure. This book made up for the intense racism of the last one. It was beautiful. The perfect fairytale. Essentially this book is the origin story of Narnia and it was awesome to see how things from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe fit together into this story.

The Last Battle (C.S. Lewis)- The conclusion to the Chronicles of Narnia and Narnia itself. SPOILERS. SERIOUSLY. DON'T READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE YOUR LIFE RUINED. Okay. I was so excited to finish this series. The last book renewed my love for Narnia. I was pumped. Unfortunately it did not have that Narnia magic. It fell flat. I was so excited to see the old, beloved characters come back. Eustace! Jill! Diggory and Polly! The Pevensie children! But of course, it's not that easy is it? Because Susan has grown up and is more interested in 'lipstick, nylons and invitations'. In other words, she has become a woman and likes being a woman and being sexual. So after all that junk with Edmond and saving Edmond and forgiving him for betraying them FOR CANDY they can't put in some freaking effort with their sister if they really think she's that bad off? Of course there's also the ending which is just.. cult-tastic. Like, I know it's supposed to be a religious thing. I get that it's heaven and yadda yadda yay they get to go to heaven. But like.. they DIED. That's the end of the Narnia books? They died? The end? The story was not inclusive at all and it made me feel very iffy about it being a children's book because they are quite impressionable and there's obviously a lot of Jesus stuff in it but I guess most people know that by now so they can wait until their kids are better able to handle that sort of thing. Just so much of it seemed like very lazy, boring story telling. The characters, for the most part, are just spectators watching things happen around them and they are not an active part of it. Disappointing ending.

And that's all I've got for April! A total of 7 books and 2280 pages read for the month and 35 books of my goal of 60 and 11,238 pages for the year. I've already finished one book for May so it's looking pretty good so far! Happy reading.

Monday, April 4, 2016

March Reads

Another month gone, another month of reads.

Me Before you (Jojo Moyes)- Lou Clark is a twenty-something who has settled for her small, ordinary life in a her small town. Her world gets shaken up when the tea shop she works at closes and she has to scramble for a new job placement. Enter Will Traynor, a man who used to live life large but after an accident has to live life from a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. Clark takes a job as his day caregiver. When Clark finds out that Will has shocking plans for his future, she sets out to show him that life can still be accessible and wonderful from his chair. Okay. I can't go into much without giving away a lot but this is one of my top 5 favorite books of the past year. Loved it. I didn't really expect to! I thought I'd be tough but it broke through my icy heart and I need to own this book asap. I've heard a lot of people critique this book as perpetuating this idea that a disabled life is not a life worth living but I feel like it's the exact opposite of that. I think it is about living life to the fullest, being inspired, being loved and loving and making hard choices and how relationships can affect us. I can understand the ableism critique of this for sure but I don't think it's as prevalent as some people have seemed to make it.

Allegiant (Veronica Roth)- The faction based society that Tris has lived in her entire life has been shattered. Hoping for a new life of peace, Tris, Four and a handful of friends venture outside the wall to find out what waits on the other side. What they discover is more lies and twists as they navigate human nature once more and try to save their loved ones. Mehhhhh. The first like half of this book was really bleh. I hated the dual perspective. Once again Four and Tris' relationship got on my NERVES. The end was full of action but wasn't really surprising. I felt like you saw it all coming. Or at least I did. It was very bland to me. I wanted to think Tris was brave and daring and whatever but mostly I just felt like they were all asses.

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? (Lorrie Moore)- A grown woman looks back with nostalgia at the summer she was 15. Berie and her best friend Sils worked together, stole liquor from their parents together, went out dancing together and seeping the fun out of their small town lives. Everything is carefree until Berie realizes Sils really does need her help and that's when everything changes. I loved this book. An easy read but full of complicated characters and situations. The bittersweet retelling of Berie's youth from the perspective of middle age Berie is beautiful and touching. It was kind of heartbreaking but the story telling was so beautiful that it was worth it.

Dept. of Speculation (Jenny Offill)- The character simply referred to as 'the wife' ruminates on the consuming love of motherhood, the day to day droll of marriage, the highs and lows of a long lived relationship and the seduction of art. Another love. I couldn't put this down. It is written in short, staggered paragraphs and the feelings jump off of the page and right into your lap. I could feel the fierce love, I could feel the rage and confusion, I could feel the longing and the pain and the need and it was very reflective and engaging. It is perfectly done. A beautiful piece of literature. The piercing emotional insights will last long after you are done reading. I've been thinking about this book for days.

The BFG (Roald Dahl)- Had Sophie been carried off by any other giant in the middle of the night she would have been swallowed up immediately. As it is, she is taken by the Big Friendly Giant, a dream blower who travels around England bringing happy dreams to little children. When Sophie learns that the other 9 giants are galloping off to eat their fill of human beans, she knows they must do something about it! Ahhhh, this book is magical and wonderful and perfection. I loved it so much. My son loved it and laughed out loud constantly. It is whimsical and fun and scary in parts and full of adventure. I'm very excited to see how the movie interpretation is later this year!

Song of the Wanderer (Bruce Coville)- Cara must travel through the wilderness of Luster, the land of the unicorns, to find her way back to Earth and save her Grandmother, the Wanderer. A surly dragon, vicious delver attacks and dangerous terrain make for a hard road and all while Beloved, the enemy of the unicorns, is watching and waiting for the opportunity to attack and steal the amulet that will let her enter Luster and finish the slaughtering of the unicorns that she began so many hundreds of years before. This book started out as a chapter book with my little girl but she wasn't super into it (the beginning was very LoTR, just walking around and talking to people about what needed to be done, so I don't blame her for getting bored) so I finished it on my own and I'm glad I did. I read the first book of The Unicorn Chronicles as a little girl and loved it but never knew there were more books until very recently. Holy plot twist that I did not see coming.The beginning is a little slow but the pace picks up quickly and the adventures are many.

 Dark Whispers (Bruce Coville)- Cara must travel to the Valley of the Centaurs in pursuit of a mysterious story that could hold the key to the survival of the unicorns. The 3rd book in The Unicorn Chronicles and it wastes no time diving into the adventure in this one. In this novel the point of view changes practically every chapter and that usually bothers me but I felt that in this book it made sense and it kept you guessing and antsy for what happens next. I appreciate these middle grade fantasy novels.

Over Sea, Under Stone (Susand Cooper)- The Drew children discover an ancient map in the attic of the home they are holidaying at by the sea. Quickly it is discovered that this map is special and the key to finding a powerful source to fight the evil Dark. The children, with their mysterious Great Uncle Merry, begin a perilous journey of seeking out the grail. This is a fantasy series built around Arthurian legend so naturally it is wonderful. I was captivated by Great Uncle Merry and this ancient struggle between Good and Evil and the legends behind it all. It's a lovely little read.

The Fairy Rebel (Lynne Reid Banks)- Jan is sitting in her garden when she gets the biggest surprise of her life- a fairy is earthed on her toe. Tiki the fairy puts herself in terrible danger by helping Jan, who is desperate for a child, have a baby. After the Queen of the fairies discovers that there is a fairy child they must rise up against her darkness and evil. This is one of my favorite books of all time. I adore this book. It leaves me so happy and I can ride that happy book high for days. It's a great story, cool illustrations and the perfect little something when you need a fairy tale.

The Silver Chair (C.S. Lewis)- Eustace and Jill escape their school bullies through a door in a wall and come out the other side into Aslan's land. Aslan himself has a task for the children. Through dangerous adventures with serpents, giants and dark tunnels they must find the lost Prince and restore him to Narnia. I've yet to read a Narnia book that doesn't make me all goose bumpy. The end made me cry. Like a lot.

Living Dead Girl (Elizabeth Scott)- Strong sexual assault trigger here. I have a lot of feelings about this. This was an unfinished book for me because I got about a third through it and just could not. It read like torture porn for me. I understand that there is a place for things like this and as a sexual assault survivor myself I think talking about this is important but I just did not like the interpretation of assault that I saw or how frequently (like every few pages in the part that I read) it happened. Not to mention that I also didn't enjoy the writing at all. Even if the subject matter hadn't been hard for me and the subject not broached the way I would have liked it, the writing just wasn't great and I didn't enjoy the format.

The Siren (Kiera Cass)- Here is the goodreads page for this book if you'd like a summary. Another started but didn't finish for me. Womp. It just didn't grab my interest. I thought the idea of a siren story sounded super neat and in the first 50 something pages I hadn't gotten into the story yet so I decided to give it up.

The Lost Hero (Rick Riordan)- The first book in the Heroes of Olympus series follows 3 new heroes- Jason, Piper and Leo - as they discover their godly parentage and set off on a quest to (what else?) save the world. I really enjoyed this! The ending definitely made sure I'll come back to read the rest. The first born and I started this wayyyyy back in January and we finally finished it. It's not that we weren't into it, it is just super dense and a lot of pages to get through. I loved the story told from the perspective of all 3 heroes. I felt the character development was beautiful and intentional and really noticeable. The story being woven is exciting and mysterious and I'm anxiously waiting on the next one to arrive at our library. 

That's a wrap for March! Happy reading.