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!