Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mini-review: Through the Ever Night

Through the Ever Night
by Veronica Rossi

I really enjoyed this one. I loved that it was pretty much non-stop adventures and intrigue. And I liked that Aria and Perry's relationship had realistic problems. There are misunderstandings and doubts and outside problems. The Tides don't trust Aria, and they don't automatically believe in Perry's leadership. Which all has a big impact on the plot. And kept me turning pages as fast as I could.

I liked seeing more of Perry's world and the different secondary characters. Roar plays a big role, although he's a bit more serious in this book. And there were people from Aria's world that became more important than I expected. There's a great set up for the final book, which I can't wait for. But, that thing that happened that was all unexpected and sad, I don't think it really happened.

Right? Right?
5/5 stars

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Read This: Because I Said So!

Because I Said So!
by Ken Jennings

The Short Story
Ken Jennings (of Jeopardy! fame) takes to science to review 200+ common folk sayings. Everything from "don't give chocolate to a dog" to "this will go down on your permanent record." It's informative, and funny, and occasionally gross. But really interesting and a great read.

Come for the....
good non-fiction! I'm not much of a non-fiction reader because I tend to feel like most books come in either the memoir variety, or the info-dump text book style. But, this book is neither. It has a lot of information, but it's told in such a readable way. Basically it's really, really funny. And it has a layout that lends itself to being read a few minutes at a time. There are different sections with 10 or so bits of folk wisdom. For each saying ("Don't run with scissors!" "Drink sprite for an upset stomach") there's a funny look at the relevant research. And then there's a little truth meter at the end, in case you're more of a cut-to-the-chase reader.

It's an especially fun read because most of the sayings are things I'd heard of. And I believed a ridiculous amount of things that have no actual basis in science or research. Like, that we lose 10% of body heat through our heads. (nope) Or that it's ok to feed ducks bread. (that's actually really bad). Or that you need to check your kids' Halloween candy for tampering. (also no, which is good because I worried that I didn't know how to do that this past Halloween).

Don't Think About This Too Hard 
  • There are a couple of times where the humor goes toward the potty, or is just a bit crude.

The Big Three:
Language: regular "Bible swears" and a few others
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: not an issue

Monday, January 14, 2013

Want to See Les Miserables?

So, I have a small problem. I'd really like to go see Les Miserables, but my husband would really rather not. He takes a more Ruby Oliver approach:

"[Musicals are] most excellent if you like movies where people burst into song and tap-dance. Which I do, though not as much as I like movies where people don't.”

On that happy note, anyone interested in getting a group together to see it? I know a lot of people have probably already seen it, but have you seen it with someone who doesn't know the story at all (meaning me)? If you're interested, leave a comment or email me (kathyreadsthis (at) gmail)

This could be fun! Or sad. Or creepy. Who knows what this movie's actually about....

Friday, January 11, 2013

Read This: Reached

by Ally Condie

The Short Story
Xander, Cassia, and Ky all team up with the Rising but find themselves fighting a plague instead of a war. Also, that whole love triangle sorts itself out. Just as beautifully written as the first two, and a great end to the series.

Come for the....
return to everything good from Matched. I don't think I realized how disappointed I was with Crossed until I started reading Reached and liked it so much. It really felt more in the style of the original book, and I found that I liked Cassia and Ky much better when they weren't so focused on their *luv* for each other. In Reached there's a lot of plot going on, and for the most part the three main characters have distinct roles to play. Cassia returns to being thoughtful and active. And I liked her growth, especially as she spreads her talents and creative abilities with others.

But, the book stealer for me really was Xander. I loved the chapters from his perspective, and I thought his storyline was compelling. He's very involved in the Rising and fighting the plague, despite the consequences it may have for him. And I'm just a sucker for a character who tries to do the right thing, whether it works out for them or not. Of course, I won't comment on how the love triangle works out, but I will say that I think it's one of the best resolved triangles I've read. No matter who you're rooting for, I think you'll be happy with the ending.

Don't Think About This Too Hard 
  • I was hoping for more character growth from Ky, but I think Crossed was supposed to be his big growth book. However you felt about him at the end of that one, Reached won't change your opinion.

The Big Three:
Language: a few swears, but only the d-word
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: more death from the plague than physical violence, but some is a bit gory

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tough Critic?

Thanks to a post by Jenni Elyse, I recently discovered the stats feature on Goodreads. It has lots of handy little things, but what I really liked was this:

It's all the books I read, and how I rated them.

And it's almost freakishly normally distributed, which is kind of a bad thing. Looks like I read a whole lot of 3 star books last year. In fact, you'd have to add together all my 2, 4, and 5 star reviews to equal my 3 star books. (well, with one extra) (and yes I know it's not really normally distributed, but still)

Which begs two questions:
1. Am I just much harder on books than the average reviewer? It seems like most people are highest in 4 star books.

2. Am I not very good at judging which books I'll really like? I stopped reading 6 books (the ones with no star rating) because I could tell I wouldn't like them. Maybe I need to do that more? If I'm reading more but enjoying less, that seems like a step in the wrong direction.

So, dear blog readers, what say you? What's your average star-rating for books? How did you get good at picking books for yourself?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mini Reviews

The Summer Series by Jenny Han
There is something compulsively readable about these books, with the summer house and the beach and the feel of fun, carefree times. And the drama: love triangles, deaths, fisticuffs, bad prom!, engagements, weddings, fights, a boy named Cam Cameron. Really, it has every sort of teenage angst you could want.
But. The characters. Belly never grew up as much as I was hoping for. It seemed like things just happened to her, without her actively making choices. And then there are the boys. I never really felt like I knew Jeremiah, and Conrad struck me as patronizing and mean. I didn't want her to pick either of them, which put a damper on things.
Mixed, for me.

Blood Red Road by Moira Young
It's a tough book with a lot of structural hurdles that make it hard to get into. (Phonetic spellings/dialect, no chapters, no quotation marks) But my real problem was that I was never invested in the plot to save Lugh. He's hardly in the story before he's kidnapped. And he's as old as Saba, so it's not like he was helpless. Then there's Saba herself. She was a bit too unlikeable and rough for my taste. She'd come close to earning my sympathy and then would do something jerktastic again. It exhausted me. On the plus side, Jack has his funny moments and the last 80 or so pages were interesting. But on the whole, this was a no for me.
Skip This 2/5

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This is a really fun book. I love it when a writer can take something I know and like (Cinderella) and put a totally different spin on it (cyborgs). Instead of leaving her shoe, Cinder loses her whole foot at the ball. It almost reminded me of the Shrek movies, in the way that it combined bits and pieces of several different fairy tales, all with a twist. You'll figure things out well before Cinder does, but you can't really fault a retelling for being predictable.
Read This 4/5

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
Oh, the cute. This is sort of Jane Austen-lite, with a very sweet 1800's England setting and two fun characters. I loved reading about Philip and Marianne, and their bantering and outings and miscues. I would have read a whole book of just that, but of course there has to be some conflict. The whole questioning others' characters and loyalties went on just a bit longer than I wanted, but it doesn't take away from how charming the story is. I think it would be a great bridge book for people who are interested in the Jane Austen period but get bogged down in her actual books.
Read This 4/5