Cheaper by the Dozen is a charming story about a dad full of personality and how he raises hiThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Cheaper by the Dozen is a charming story about a dad full of personality and how he raises his twelve kids. The dad is witty, blunt, sarcastic, slightly over protective, eccentric and a little strict. The father is what really makes this story because it was delightful to read about him. There's some back story about the dad and my favorite story from his childhood was when he was talking to a brick foreman about how to do things more efficiently and no matter how much the foreman threatens and swears at him, he carries on about his ideas without missing a beat.
I admired the way he parented his children. He always had them learning things by turning them into games. He plays jokes on the kids and has a lot of fun with them. He was such a bad driver that the kids voluntarily became look outs. Even though he was a really strict dad and never dreamed of bending the rules, he knew when to show them extra love, too. The story of the roller skates was such a touching story of teaching his kids a lesson but in a loving way.
As much as I enjoyed all of the stories about the family, I thought the father was a little too eccentric and strict until I read the ending. The ending was so beautiful and not at all what I expected. The father is adamant about saving time when doing even the smallest tasks. I think he would have been a huge fan of life hacks. People would ask him "But what do you want to save time FOR?" It was a reminder how precious time is and to spend as much of it with your family as you can.
Overall, it was a charming story about his dad and his eccentric ways of raising a family that had a beautiful message and ending....more
Dad is Fatexpands on Jim Gaffigan's staple humor about kids and the challenges of being a parThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Dad is Fat expands on Jim Gaffigan's staple humor about kids and the challenges of being a parent. I laughed out loud at most of this book. As funny as the book is, I think it helped me look at life more honestly and realize that being a parent IS crazy and hard sometimes. The ability to laugh about it and realize all parents aren't perfect inspires me to do a little better and not let myself get bogged down in the sheer stress of it is sometimes. I can laugh about my stress and let it go.
Failing and laughing at your own shortcomings are the hallmarks of a sane parent.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (pg 25)
I think another point he makes in this book is how funny kids are just from being themselves. One of my favorite things about Jim Gaffigan's humor is that he can take situations that usually stress me out about kids being themselves and show me how funny it is. Like this:
Children have a tendency to behave as poorly as the most poorly behaved kid in the room. The laws of physics dictate that if there is a kid screaming and running in the hallway of a hotel, all the other children will scream and run in the hallway of the hotel.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (pg 15)
The chapter that I laughed at the most was called "Vice President" where he compares dads to real vice presidents (like the enforcer role he sometimes has of Dick Cheney) and how dads different vice president roles function in the family. The whole chapter is great but here's my favorite quote:
As a dad, you are Vice President. You are part of the Executive Branch of the family, but you are the partner with the weaker authority. In your children’s eyes, you mostly fulfill a ceremonial role of attending pageants and ordering pizza. I’m never the first choice. My kids don’t even mask it, which I respect them for. “Let’s see, the crabby guy with the scratchy beard or that warm soft lady that tells us stories for eight hours?” It’s not even close.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (pg 36)
I wish I could share all my favorite quotes with you, but that would be half the book. I listened to the audiobook, but then got the ebook from the library so I could highlight all the quotes that I loved. So here's the last quote that I want to share with you. Jim is talking about how his kids wake up before the sun and how loud they are (which I can relate to) which makes this quote so hilarious to me.
The song goes, “Morning has broken,” and I’m pretty sure my children broke it. Like everything else they break, if they did break it, they’ll never admit it.
- Jim Gaffigan, Dad Is Fat (p. 194)
Narrator Review: Five stars
Listening to the audiobook was just as much fun as listening to one of his standup routines. He's honest, sarcastic, funny and so entertaining to listen to. The way he says things really adds to the humor. I highly recommend the audiobook over the ebook.
Overall, it was a hilarious and entertaining read about being a parent and the funny things that kids do.
Cold Sassy Tree was a great book for book club. It brought up a lot of things to discuss abouThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Cold Sassy Tree was a great book for book club. It brought up a lot of things to discuss about religion, women, and gossip set in early 1900s South. It's always interesting to me to read historical fiction like this and see how women were treated. Women were often blamed for the things that men did. Like Rucker marrying Love even though his wife only died a few weeks ago. You would think that the gossip would be about the insensitive man but it wasn't. It was all about Love and what an awful person she was. Society also largely viewed woman as free or cheap labor. You can clearly see how quickly their society would fall apart without women (Rucker can't even feed himself or wash his clothes) and yet they are treated as second class citizens. That didn't mean women didn't have any power. Love would march for women's right to vote and she was very clever about getting Rucker to do things she wanted by making it seem like it was his idea.
My favorite part of this novel was the discussions about religion that Rucker has with his grandson, Will. They discuss prayer and what you should really be praying for. Rucker believes that God doesn't interfere with whether people live or die. God gave us brains and he expects us to use them. And sometimes bad things happen to good people and what we should really pray for is the strength to get through hard things. I really liked this and the other discussions that Will and Rucker had.
Another thing that was fun to read about was the modern changes coming to this small, southern town. Cars appear for the first time. Some people have phones and some don't. Some people have plumbing and some don't. It was like redneck Downton Abbey.
Cold Sassy Tree shed a fascinating look on gossip. Gossip is focused on the outward appearance of things and disregards the more important internal thoughts and feelings of people. Will points out that there is a difference between "being in mourning" like wearing black etc. and actually mourning. You can see the tragic effects throughout the story when people focus on the outward things people are doing and forget to see them as people.
Narrator Rating: 5 Stars
Even though this is my very first audiobook, I thought the narrator did an excellent job with reading this novel. He had a southern accent that really added to the atmosphere of the book. Also, it was easier to understand the accent when I heard it. The southern accent in the book was spelled phonetically and I found it hard to read. But it was delightful to listen too. I would recommend the audiobook over the book for this novel. I got me here a southern accent before I wus done with this here aud-ee-o-book. Yes um.
Overall, I really liked this look at southern life and the ideas it had about religion.
Content warning: rape scene. It's not very graphic but it was disturbing. There may have been some language but I can't remember....more
I picked up Bowels of Hell right after The Orphanage. What a cliffhanger! I was on the edge oThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
I picked up Bowels of Hell right after The Orphanage. What a cliffhanger! I was on the edge of my seat wondering how Billy and Amber would get out of this mess. The reaction of the orphans when they see that Amber and Billy are missing was really poignant to me.
I loved getting to know more of Amber's backstory in this one. And there's such a cute moment between Billy and Amber when Billy is just in awe of something she has done. I like how their relationship is developing. They have such great chemistry together and yet they argue about things that girls and boys often do. I just find them endearing.
Billy, an Aboriginal Australian boy, is very non-judgmental even when he has culture shock and just can't understand something. I was touched by how unselfish Billy is. When Billy is faced with death, all he thinks about is his clan and how they won't be able to pass on their traditions. Billy is a joy to read about and so easy to like.
Overall, I really enjoyed learning more about the characters and seeing their relationship grow. I can't wait to see where the story goes next!
Content warning: graphic descriptions of survival skills and a discussion among the boys about circumcision....more
If Dr. Seuss had ever written a chapter book, it would have come out like Fortunately, the MiThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
If Dr. Seuss had ever written a chapter book, it would have come out like Fortunately, the Milk. The illustrations were fun, detailed, and slightly strange. The story was quirky and imaginative. It made my kids giggle a few times. There were aliens and dinosaurs and a lot of other crazy characters in between. It was a fun, short story to read out loud to my 7 and 5 year old every night. If you’re looking for something different to read to your kids, go pick this one up. It’s a book adults can enjoy too. I looked forward to reading this as much as my kids did....more
Dreams of Gods & Monsters was an epic and beautiful finale to one of my new favorite fantThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Dreams of Gods & Monsters was an epic and beautiful finale to one of my new favorite fantasy series. The romance made my heart melt. There was a Star Wars joke about using a Tauntaun to keep warm which I loved. There was more of the blunt, honest humor that I laugh out loud at. Behold my favorite joke ever.
Razgut paused as though he were thinking up a reply, and then he farted. Squinching up his face, he did so with effort. The reward was slight in resonance but grand in aroma, and the emperor was not amused.
- Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters pg 367
I'm certainly amused by Razgut. Speaking of Razgut, I kind of wondered when he was going to say "my preeeciousssssss" because he totally reminded me of Gollum. He was pitiful, ugly, scheming and for reasons I don't understand I kind of liked him and felt sorry for him.
The book before this one, Days of Blood & Starlight, was very dark. Dreams of Gods & Monsters did a good job showing that no matter how dark things get, love and mercy matter.
But all he could think, in answer to that, was what Karou had said earlier, about the darkness we do in the name of the dead, and whether it’s what they would want for us.
-Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters pg 264
The writing is beautiful and just sucks you right into the story.
She’d spoken of their happiness as though it were an undeniable fact, no matter what happened— apart from everything else and not subject to it. It was a new idea for him, that happiness wasn’t a mystical place to be reached or won— some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it— but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies. Food, weapons, happiness.
-Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters pg 413
As much as I loved this book, I wish it had ended 100 pages sooner than it did. Not because I thought the book was too long but because I felt like the final subplot that took up those last pages was unnecessary. The final subplot goes into the epic territory of Where This World Came From. Honestly, I don't like knowing that much detail because I feel part of the beauty of an amazing fantasy is leaving a little left unanswered especially about the origins of a fantasy world. For example, J.K. Rowling describes a hidden world of witches and wizards but she never attempts in the narrative to explain where the first witch and wizard came from. I think if she had, it would lose a lot of it's magic. Laini Taylor literally answers all the questions and to be fair she did foreshadow this plot in the previous books so it is nice that she didn't just abandon it. But I felt like the story would have worked much better without that final subplot because I felt like the plot really dragged through those last 100 pages.
Overall, it was a very satisfying conclusion to my favorite series but I was not a fan of that final subplot about the origins of the world because I felt it was unnecessary.
Content warning: a few suggestive scenes and some language....more
Rump is a fun, humorous retelling of a traditional fairy tale that we all know, RumplestiltskThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Rump is a fun, humorous retelling of a traditional fairy tale that we all know, Rumplestiltskin. The writing was charming. The characters were funny and interesting. Here's a little demonstration of both the delightful writing and the great main character, Rump, who wrote this poem.
Home is a place to get out of the rain
It cradles the hurt and mends the pain
And no one cares about your name
Or the height of your head
Or the size of your brain
- Liesl Shurtliff, Rump, pg 8
This book was written before Once Upon a Time came out, but I can't help comparing the two since they are both intelligent retellings. There's a scene in this book where Red is talking about the consequences of magic and I couldn't help but hear my favorite character, Rumplestitlskin from Once Upon a Time, say "All magic comes with a price!" Another similarity to Once Upon a Time is the ability of this story to get us to empathize with the "villain." I was really impressed that Liesl Shurtliff was able to keep the plot so close to the traditional fairy tale but give us back story and motivations in a way that made me see the story in a new light and not see Rump as the bad guy. It also kind of felt like a prequel because of the back story about his parents that the author went into.
Rump has a beautiful message about the importance of names and labels and our destiny. It's a story about not only learning from your own mistakes but the mistakes of others.
My one and only (and very small) complaint is that it felt like it ended very quickly.
Overall, it was a charming fairy tell retelling about finding your destiny that will appeal to everyone - especially if you are a Once Upon a Time fan....more
Spoiler free even if you haven't read the first book in this series.
Elisa has been growing and changing throughout the series and The Bitter Kingdom was no exception. She starts to define herself by trying new things and seeing what she likes instead of focusing on comparing herself to others, especially her sister, and coming up short. In fact, she purposefully learns and pursues the things that were hidden from her or that scare her and it made her a fascinating character to read about.
I liked the friendship that developed between Elisa and Storm. He seems to be a very loyal friend but the culture that he grew up in makes him not completely trustworthy. His culture also gives him a very literal personality that I found endearing. One of my favorite quotes from the novel came from Storm when he's explaining the Joyan culture to someone and how it's different from his own.
"Joyans consider it rude to express one's true opinion unless it is unequivocally flattering."
- Rae Carson, The Bitter Kingdom, pg 235
There has been romance throughout the series, but it starts to rival The Princess Bride with the devotion and the kissing scenes that have lots of spark that I know the kid from the Princess Bride movie would definitely want to skip.
The writing had a few cliche moments. I liked the writing from the first two books better. Each book has a journey, but for some reason this one felt a tad bit long. However, the plot was such a fun adventure that reminded me of entering the mines of Moria that it kept my interest very well. There was also a very brief reference to "machine magic" that isn't really expanded on, but it does support my theory that I discussed in my Crown of Embers review that perhaps the Joyan race came from our world.
Overall, it was a fun adventure with epic romance and a main character who is constantly growing and changing into someone I would want to be.
Content warning: mildly graphic violence and a suggestive scene....more
The One and Only Ivan was just the bittersweet book I needed when I was dealing with a stressful week. I read it in about one day because I could notThe One and Only Ivan was just the bittersweet book I needed when I was dealing with a stressful week. I read it in about one day because I could not put it down. The whole story felt like a work of art about a gorilla who makes art. The voice was such a cute, appealing, and engaging one. The format it's told in is kind of a journal that makes you see the world the way Ivan, the gorilla, does. You really get to know him and how sweet he is which makes it all the more tear jerking when you learn some of the horrible things that happened to him.
The One and Only Ivan is a book I could see kids liking. Ivan, the gorilla, loves to draw simple things and eat his crayons...and sometimes his art. But the writing was so poetic and beautiful I enjoyed it immensely as an adult.
"He goes back to work. His mop moves across the empty food court like a giant brush, painting a picture no one will ever see."
Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Ivan pg 233
It was the ultimate showing not telling and it sucked me right in. And the art inside was just as beautiful as the writing. It looked stunning even on my kindle and it looks even better in the print version.
The animal characters are all full of personality. I found each of them wonderful and very caring - even the sarcastic homeless dog. I really liked Stella, the elephant, and she had my favorite quote from the book:
"I always tell the truth," Stella replies. "Although I sometimes confuse the facts."
- Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Ivan pg 66
The impossible task that Ivan tries to achieve reminded me of Finding Nemo and how impossible it sounded for a fish to escape a fish tank and go back to the ocean. I was rooting for Ivan hard and hoping with everything I had that he would overcome.
Just when I was teary eyed enough, I read the Author's Note about how The One and Only Ivan was inspired by a true story. She embellished of course, but definitely not as much as you'd think. Very much of this story is similar to what happened to a real gorilla. Someone get me some tissues. Was I really having a stressful week? I've forgotten what it was.
Overall, this was a work of art about hope and the sad reality of animal cruelty that was brought up in a beautiful way that children could relate to and understand.
Infinite was the best book in the Newsoul series. I thought it had a great, quick pace whichThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Infinite was the best book in the Newsoul series. I thought it had a great, quick pace which the other two books before this lacked. My favorite thing was getting to see more of the creatures that were just mentioned in the other books. I was hoping that would happen after I finished the book before this one, Asunder. I also loved learning even more about the sylph and the dragons.
Sam has been one of the most boring love interests that I've read in young adult. It makes me sad to say that because I felt like I should be able to relate to him since he's a musician like I am. Sadly, no. Sam and Ana's relationship is perfect and cheesy and therefore boring to me. Until Ana decides to be independent and do something on her own that she thinks is right. Then they (finally!) get in a fight. That at least was interesting. The thing with Sam and the dragons kind of gets explained but kind of doesn't. I didn't understand it all the way but at least it was brought up.
Ana developed into a fascinating hero. The resolution was perfect. The ending was twisty, bittersweet, and satisfying like a nice maple bacon donut. There was only one tiny thing at the end that I wondered about. (view spoiler)[I wanted to know what happened to the dragons! Did they all die? Where did they go? I loved the dragons and I was sad that I don't know what happens to them. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, this was my favorite book out of the series with new creatures and a great resolution though sadly I could just never like Sam.
Content warning: some violence. There might have been a few make out scenes but I don't remember for sure. They weren't very long if there were any!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The ending of The Shadow Throne went out with a bang. If you love adventure stories that havThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The ending of The Shadow Throne went out with a bang. If you love adventure stories that have nail-bitter endings, then you need to read this series.
The main character, Jaron, is the best part of this series. This is the story of how a liar, a thief, and an arrogant boy was a good king because he loved deeply. Jaron is just as sarcastic as ever and his way of ruling a kingdom seems the exact opposite of what a normal person would do. His unpredictability gives him and his story a lot of charm. Most of the time, Jaron is arrogant but he does know how to be humble. I kind of admire how demanding he is since it goes hand in hand with his determination to do the right thing and never give up. Here's one of my favorite quotes that shows Jaron's great sarcasm and arrogance. Jaron is saying this to the king who wants to take over his kingdom.
“By the end of today I will be Carthya’s king. This outfit offends me!”
“Carthya is honored to offend you,” [Jaron] said.
-Jennifer A. Nielsen, The Shadow Throne (p. 289)
And honestly, Jaron's character would be a little much if it wasn't balanced out by how much he cares for his kingdom and his friends. He even gives excellent advice occasionally.
Nobody gives you respect in this life. You must take it, you must earn it, and then you must hold it sacred, because no matter how hard respect is to attain, it can be lost in an instant.
- Jennifer A. Nielsen, The Shadow Throne (p. 43)
His talent for making people mad is quite hilarious. Jaron inspires me to stand up a little more for the things I believe in.
Besides the main character, I loved the attitude towards women in this book. They are respected and included in the war. This is by far one of my favorite quotes from the book. This is enemy commander speaking to Jaron.
“I could send my nursemaids out here to fight those men.”
“I’m sorry you have such little value for your nursemaids. We invite them to become Carthyan citizens." [Jaron said.]
- Jennifer A. Nielsen, The Shadow Throne (p. 209)
Overall, this was a great ending to one of my favorite series about an arrogant teen king who never gives up trying to save his kingdom while being sarcastic and hilarious along the way....more
The Witch of Duva is a beautifully written fairy tale that feels close toThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The Short Version
The Witch of Duva is a beautifully written fairy tale that feels close to our own fairy tales but it messes with your expectations by twisting the story around in new ways. This prequel novella reminded me of Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling. The Witch of Duva, like Tales of Beedle the Bard, is a fairy tale set in the same world that doesn't necessarily advance the story but functions to flesh out the world and add a little more magic to it. I couldn't find more of a connection between The Witch of Duva and Shadow and Bone other than they are both set in the same world. I actually prefer this kind of novella to one that tells some back story of a character. I feel like the fairy tale is something fun that lets me stay in that world a little longer. When I've read novellas that try to continue the narrative, I found myself bored. This fairy tale was beautiful and engaging and I highly recommend it.
The Jessica Thinks Too Much Version
There were just too many awesome and juicy details that I couldn't skip discussing them. I will talk about the details of the book and the foreshadowing that I saw, but I won't tell how it ends.
The Witch of Duva reminds me of Hansel and Gretel. Like Hansel and Gretel, there is a witch in the woods that eats girls. Nadya, the main character, talks about how her mother becomes sick and the only thing that comforts her is sweet cakes from Karina. I love the theme of food in this fairy tale - especially sweet food - that ties it into our fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. One theory of why the girls go missing is that they smell food in the forrest and wander off.
I can see hints now of what happens at the end now that I'm reading it again. It describes the girls as "full-grown girls near old enough to marry." There's lots of misdirection to Karina since we are seeing the events through Nadya's eyes and she automatically doesn't like Karina trying to replace her mother.
Karina sends Nadya into the forrest to find the rabbit traps and Nadya follows the white stones that mark the path that were left by her brother, Havel. I'm geeking out over all the Hansel and Gretel references!! Nadya gets lost because the stones get covered in snow. I like how this changes the Hansel and Gretel version to fit into the Russian-like setting of Ravka.
Hungry, Nadya finds a house that smells like cooking sugar. The old woman that lives in the house feeds her. I love how Nadya even mentions that she feels like she's just being fattened up to be eaten later. But this is where the twists come in. The witch's house becomes a safe place for Nadya instead of the other way around. The witch helps people and even hides Nadya so rumors don't start that she kidnaps children. Haha! Oops too late.
I loved the elements that came from other fairy tales, too. There was a reference to the Gingerbread Man story. But again it's different than I thought it would be. The witch also asks Nadya all the time what she wants that reminded me a little of the original Beauty and the Beast.
I had a blast reading the fairy tale. I loved analyzing it and thinking about it and just getting lost in the world.
Why are we so quick to villainize women? The thing that made me think the most about this story was how easy we are to attach sinister motives to women when their outward actions show mostly kindness. It only takes one or two harsh things for us to immediately hate a woman when men do much worse things and it often gets looked over. What do you think?
Content warning: there is a suggestive scene that is very brief and very mildly detailed....more
The Shadow Prince felt like a YA version of Percy Jackson. Like Percy Jackson, it's Greek mytThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The Shadow Prince felt like a YA version of Percy Jackson. Like Percy Jackson, it's Greek mythology that asks the question, "What would the Greek Gods be like if they were around today?" It also does an awesome job of making a Greek myth modern. This retelling of the Persephone myth uses a different version that shows Persephone making her own choices and having power because of it. I love how the traditional version of Persephone is questioned and suggests it was turned into a cautionary tale to keep girls from wandering away from home. There were so many fun allusions to Greek mythology (Apollo Canyon, Ellis Fields, Olympus Hills and my favorite - Pomegranate lip gloss).
First of all - yay for this being set in my home state of Utah! I was a little apprehensive at first of the start of the novel. The set up was very predictable. Luckily it got better as it went along. All the theories I came up with ended up being wrong which I loved.
Man I loved these characters. Haden is one emotionally stifled and impulsive dude who, as Daphne puts it, "sometimes talks like Thor." Haden is such a sad character. I'm drawn to sad characters like I am to sad stories. There's something beautiful about sadness. Daphne was very likable too. She has a passionate love of music, cares so much for her family, and is willing to do whatever it takes to make her own dreams come true. Their romance was off the charts.
Overall, this was a great mythology retelling that the author made her own with characters that I loved. ...more
I was not planning on reading this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in this series (Incarnate), but the ending had a lot of burning acid anI was not planning on reading this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in this series (Incarnate), but the ending had a lot of burning acid and death that left a lot of interesting questions so when I saw the second book staring at me at the library with it’s pretty flowers and rainbows, I decided to take it home. Another reason I decided to read this book was because I had a theory and I wanted to see if I was right. I was convinced that newsouls came from animals because that’s the first thing you think of when you think of reincarnation. Turns out I was wrong. Where newsouls really come from is even better. I love it when authors do that. I read this book in 2 days and I couldn’t put it down.
Even though I read book 1 in January, I for the life of me couldn’t remember who Sarit was as well as some of the other minor characters. Sarit is a friend of Ana. She keeps bees. Wait is she a she in this lifetime? That is all I know about Sarit. I still think Sam is boring. I do not like that Sam-I-am. He’s unnaturally perfect and completely predictable. I mean when something completely devastating happens, he just lays in bed moping. Cris was much more interesting. He’s a new character in this book who is flawed, selfless, and has been trying to achieve a dream for lifetimes but he can’t quite get there. I just wanted to hug him.
The plot is still pretty slow, but I liked the interesting questions that were brought up. Some of them were pretty deep that delve into life, death, fear, and immortality. Ana goes on a quest for answers that is sometimes metaphorical and sometimes more like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s very bittersweet because along this journey Ana starts to realize how different and truly alone she is. She has to deal with constant rejection and trying to build her self-esteem despite what others think about her.
Also, I hope we get to see more of the creatures mentioned like trolls, centaures, phoenixes, and, of course, dragons.
Overall, I thought this was much more addicting to read than the first book. It answered a lot of questions from the first book which, of course, just brought up tons more to be answered in the next book. And it delves into some interesting and deep topics that left me thinking long after I finished.
The thing that really got me to read this book was a) I thought Rory Gilmore read it (she actually read The Fountainhead though) and b) the back of thThe thing that really got me to read this book was a) I thought Rory Gilmore read it (she actually read The Fountainhead though) and b) the back of the book says "This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world—and did." How cool does that sound? Take all the elements you know of in good YA dystopian, and it's grown up in Atlas Shrugged. Plus there's some beautiful romance and a little mystery, too.
The writing is more accessible than I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be a very long, philosophical lecture but it turned out to be an interesting narrative with a strong plot and well-rounded characters that almost jump off the page with life. In the afterward of the book, Ayn believed in sharing her ideas through fiction so people could really see it in action. She uses a lot of irony to show her ideas that was fun to read. Ayn seriously writes the best ironic statements. I also like how she describes people talking. She always gives it an interesting tone and a feeling.
The scary thing about this dystopian book was how close we could be to living in a world like this. There are a few characters that still believe in capitalism, but the rest of the world has moved to extreme socialism. And the arguments of the characters that believe in socialism are things I hear all the time.
"We can't help it if we're up against destructive competition of that kind. Nobody can blame us."
-Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged pg.10
Dagny is Rand's vision of capitalism personified. She's tough, doesn't take anyone's crap, she makes decisions based on facts and not feelings and she finds joy in her work. Dagny is a strong heroine who literally stands up to the rest of the world. She doesn't cave to peer pressure and she is never ashamed of what she believes. Her brother Jim is the ultimate cess-pool of humanity. He cares too much about what others think and wants to sacrifice the public good for "the little guys." The socialist characters are often referred to as "looters." Their way of life is dependent on making the strong feel guilty and responsible for the weak. No character embodies this quite like the capitalist Rearden's passive-aggressive wife. The book is constantly contrasting the capitalist and the socialist characters. The capitalists are proactive while the socialists are reactive. The socialists insist on limiting oil production (to help the "little guys"), for example, and then complain that there is a shortage. Sometimes I just wanted to strangle all of them. Finally, the character that I really loved was the yummy and handsome anti-hero, Francisco.
The best part of Ayn's irony is the language she uses. She constantly uses words like love, charity and helping others to describe socialism. The words that she uses to describe capitalism are "selfish, unfeeling, and dog-eat-dog." The capitalist characters are unapologetic about wanting to make money and work. And yet with her use of irony, you start to like the capitalist characters though they are blunt and the socialist characters after a while seem like lazy jerks despite constantly talking about their caring and love for others (which they seem rather prideful about). No matter what language she uses to dress them up, you eventually see them for what they are. After a while you start to realize that communism is nothing more than feeling entitled to what others earn and that's a disturbing thought.
The pace really takes a nose-dive in part 3. Parts 1 and 2 moved along at a good pace, but part 3 was so hard to get through. Usually the end of the book is the most interesting, but for some reason Ayn decides to almost completely remove any conflict at the beginning of Part 3 which made the story drag and then move into an extremely long philosophical lecture before the end of the book. By the end of that long lecture, I felt like I was being beaten over the head with her beliefs. I get it Ayn. I really get it. I'm ready for the story to more on now. Also, the controversy comes into this book towards the end where she insists that you can't be a rational person and believe in God which I don't think is true. After reading her biography, I can see why she believes the things she does and I don't judge her for it, I just don't agree with everything she says.
I'm inclined to think that people who practice self-interest to the extreme are more likely to become Scrooges than like the heroes in her book. While the looters can easily sacrifice the strongest among them, a person only interested in himself can just as easily sacrifice those below him to get what he wants. This is something that she doesn't bring up and kind of skims over. What I got from her philosophy was the value of being more objective in our lives, but I don't think it's a balanced way of life to be objective 100% of the time.
Overall, I liked this book for the plot, characters, and story but I wasn't sold on her philosophy which I disagreed with.
Right away I fell in love with the writing. It was fascinating with it’s deep thoughts one minute, biting sarcasm the next and some very amusing honesRight away I fell in love with the writing. It was fascinating with it’s deep thoughts one minute, biting sarcasm the next and some very amusing honesty. It’s visual, easy to imagine and I could tell that it was a play first before this novelization came out. And the voice was just bursting with personality. A charming example:
If she was too fond of her rubbishy children she couldn’t help it.
- J. M. Barrie, Peter and Wendy (p. 131)
The whole story is this beautiful blend of imagination and reality. I was a little surprised at how similar the plot was to the Disney version. Disney usually chops those stories up until you can barely recognize them. Although the plot is technically the same, the book had a slightly darker tone than the Disney version. And I had to smile at the few unexpected Shakespeare references.
A theme that kept popping up was that children are carefree, innocent, and happy yet heartless. In a way they can’t leave the bad qualities behind without growing up and losing the good ones, too. The fact that Wendy stays away so long is because all children are completely confident that they can do whatever they want and they will still be loved. They are cocky in a way, like Peter. Another thing I found kind of shocking was the casual way in which they talked about killing on Neverland like it was some sort of game. Another example of heartless children. I also found it interesting that most of their make-believe games in Neverland were pretending to do adult things in an innocent and unexperienced way. It’s a harsh truth of childhood that they really can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination. Peter has nightmares that trouble him a lot mostly because they feel real to him. What struck me the most was how brutally honest this book was about childhood. As adults, we tend to forget all the bad things we’ve grown out of and glorify all the good things we miss. It’s bittersweet to look at childhood the way it really is because not all of it is pretty.
Tinker Bell’s character was quite saucy, naughty and highly entertaining. She mostly swore which I found kind of funny.
Overall, it was a beautifully written story about childhood so full of personality that it truly captured my imagination.
I read this in one day mainly because I love the main character, Sage. I was able to guess pretty well what was going to happen plot-wise, but Sage'sI read this in one day mainly because I love the main character, Sage. I was able to guess pretty well what was going to happen plot-wise, but Sage's unexpected wit and sarcasm are hugely entertaining. He even did a few things that suprised me on the way. I read this right after the first book, but there is a very well done recap at the beginning if it's been a while since you've read the first book in this series (I love it when author's do that!).
Sage is annoying, stubborn and sometimes just plain foolish but I can't help admiring him. Way to go to the author for pulling that off. And I loved seeing the double meaning of the things Sage would say this time around and understanding it. Sage is honest to a fault, but he's terribly smart. In fact, Sage's character reminds me a lot in this book of the Dread Pirate Roberts from Princess Bride. Here's one of my favorite examples of Sage's humor.
[Erick] tried again. “Take this sword.”
“I want the one I came here with." [said Sage]
“Why that one?”
“The stones in the handle match my eyes.”
-Jennifer A. Nielsen, The Runaway King (p. 161)
Overall, this was just a delightful as the first book with a ton of wit and sarcasm that was so fun to read. A page-turner that I couldn't put down.
Sky on Fire was definitely more intense than the first book in this series and there was a lot less humor. I mean, there was plenty of snark and bitteSky on Fire was definitely more intense than the first book in this series and there was a lot less humor. I mean, there was plenty of snark and bitterness coming from Alex that was kind of funny, but for the most part it was one non-stop nail-biter. It felt like I was really living through the end of the world because of the little practical details like how they could eat with gas masks on, how they would deal with the chemicals in the air etc. And as I’m living this experience with the characters, I’m crossing my fingers that the worst won’t happen. But of course it does like something from your nightmares.
The writing felt like reading a movie script (which I think really worked for this story). The plot is driven a lot by the dialogue of the characters. I love the characters. They have very distinct personalities that makes this story all the more chilling because I really care about all of them – even that bratty girl. Part of what makes this book truly terrifying for me was the fact that the end of the world is being shown through the eyes of kids. Max (who is one of my favorite characters) is a young boy who brings toy cars with him on the road to probable death and is playing with them and making car noises. Like my boys do daily. That little detail brought the story very close to home for me. Don’t cry, don’t cry.
The one thing that didn’t work for me was Josie’s story line. I found it to be too out-of-tune with the world that the author created for me to believe it. What happens to Josie just felt a little too convenient. It’s not a major part of the story line, so it didn’t bother me too much.
The ending felt strange to me. The story felt like it could be finished after this book. There’s really only one storyline left open and I wonder if it’s enough to keep the whole next book going. I’m stil going to read the next one because I’m curious what could happen next. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Emmy!
Overall, this was a book that I couldn’t put down ( I read it in one day). It was intense and chilling with characters that I loved.
I received this book for review from the publisher, Macmillan, in exchange for an honest review. I was not told what to say, I was not paid to write this review and all the opinions expressed are my own. I read an Advanced Reading Copy for this review. ...more
This was one of those books where I had to know what happened. I was reading while I was making dinner, and eating dinner, and when I should have beenThis was one of those books where I had to know what happened. I was reading while I was making dinner, and eating dinner, and when I should have been sleeping. I couldn’t put it down until I knew what happened. I mean, I knew what happened at the end because it’s told in non-chronological order and I knew who died and when. But I couldn’t stop until I knew how it got there. Markus Zusak was right – “Mystery bores me. It chores me. I know what happens and so do you. It’s the machinations that wheel us there that aggravate, perplex, interest, and astound me.” – quote from The Book Thief. I’m not one to cry, but Giovanna, the main character, was very inspiring. I loved how she found humor in the little details of life. And the tragedy that she faced just tore me up inside. I hope that if I’m ever faced with a family crisis that I would act just like Giovanna. Giovanna fights for her family in so many different ways: with money, literally, for justice, for protection, and, most of all, with love.
Great historical fiction makes you feel like this could be your story. And this was great historical fiction. Telling the story across multiple generations was a little confusing at first (I referred to the genealogy chart a LOT), but the whole story made me feel like knowing your anscestors and your past helps you know who you are.
I felt like I was living the immigrant life. I could picture the beautiful small town in Italy and how it could sound like a dream home but at the same time understand why so many people left their home and immigrated to America because of the prevalent poverty. And then you get hit with the reality of America that was portrayed as a dream land to the immigrants but the reality was much noisier, crowded, and dangerous.
Overall, it was a beautifully told story that left me thinking about family and how it’s the one thing people never stop fighting for. There’s tragedy, the brave honesty of moving on, true love, and a reminder for me to cherish the family I’ve got.
A Tale Dark & Grimm stays true to the spirit of the original Grimm fairy tales which wereThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
A Tale Dark & Grimm stays true to the spirit of the original Grimm fairy tales which were stark, disturbing, and usually tragic with characters who acted like idiots. A Tale Dark & Grimm retells and weaves together fairy tales but adds humor to balance out the violence. The humor comes in a wonderfully written voice from the narrator that acts like the best audio commentary you've ever heard about these fairy tales. The narrator even suggests that maybe little kids should stop reading because there are some gross scenes coming up. I'm pretty sure that would make any kid on the planet keep reading. If you've ever wanted to read a fairy tale with snarky commentary then you need to read this book.
A Tale Dark & Grimm doesn't glamorize violence though. There are definitely morals and cautionary tales that add depth to these tales. It reminded me of The Tales of Beedle the Bard where Dumbledore talks about how fairy tales are too watered down now and they fail to teach kids anymore by covering up anything bad or scary. Learning about the evils of life is best done in a story where kids can learn from the mistakes of others and realize that there is true evil out there. I loved this quote about how even when we don't deserve it sometimes bad things happen to us and there can be some good in that.
For, in life, it is in the darkest zones one finds the brightest beauty and the most luminous wisdom.
- Adam Gidwitz, A Tale Dark and Grimm (Prologue)
Overall, it was a wonderfully written snarky retelling of Grimm fairy tales that doesn't shy away from the scary things in life and what they can teach us.
Content warning: some very mild violence and gore....more
The first thing I noticed about Transparent was that it had a nice voice to it. I loved the main character Fiona's honesty and dry humor about how sheThe first thing I noticed about Transparent was that it had a nice voice to it. I loved the main character Fiona's honesty and dry humor about how she was born. Fiona had me smiling a lot with the things she said like when she said she read her math book because she was "that bored." I found Fiona incredibly likable. Her invisibility defines her whole life and she struggles with the fact that she could potentially be the perfect criminal, that no one will ever call her pretty, and that sometimes she isn't even treated like a person with feelings since people can't see them expressed on her face. I loved watching her grow when she had to face the choice of pretending to be whatever she imagined instead of who she really is.
I had a hard time at first understanding the world that Transparent is set in. My questions did get explained later on, but I felt a little lost at the beginning especially about the "syndicates" (which are essentially mafias) and how the dynamics of that worked. There was a very subtle dystopian feeling since the world is essentially run by mafias, but I wouldn't put it in that genre.
I really enjoyed all the other characters and their interesting super powers. I think my favorite was the creative and useless power of emitting odors. I want that one. The secondary characters have beautiful back stories as well. My favorite was the character with the super strength and the disadvantages that came with it. And Miles was such a likable older brother/father figure who was adorably protective of Fiona. One of my favorite moments of the book was when Fiona discovered that her parents are people with a past and she suddenly gets why they do what they do.
I loved the cool twists in this story. I went back to skim read all the signs I obviously missed. There were big hints but you have to remove your labels and judgement and you can't believe everything you're told. Those are the very best plot twists in my opinion.
I haven't read a romance that I've enjoyed this much in a very long time. I loved the connection that slowly grew between them. They slowly fall in love as they get to know each other. The tension between them was so interesting without feeling like there was unnecessary drama.
Overall, Transparent had a nice conflict and a cool plot twist with a wonderful cast of characters and an adorable romance.
Cate of the Lost Colony is about a girl who is banished to the new world by a jealous queen. This is the kind of entertaining historical fiction thatCate of the Lost Colony is about a girl who is banished to the new world by a jealous queen. This is the kind of entertaining historical fiction that also happens teaches you a little something about history. There is a huge cast of characters in this book, most of whom existed in real life. The main characters really shined even though the minor characters often got mixed up in my mind (thank goodness for the awesome character list at the beginning). The main characters Cate, Manteo, and Sir Walter Ralegh all narrate this story. I found the voices of each of the narrators so distinct and beautiful that I could tell within a paragraph or two who was talking even though it wasn’t labeled. Through each of the narrators we get to see the new world from different perspectives. Cate shows us life as a colonist. Manteo shows us the major changes that the Native Amercians went through. Sir Walter Ralegh, who is an historical figure, shows us the glory and wealth people dreamed of finding in America.
I loved the summary at the end of the book that explained what was fiction and what wasn’t. It was surprising how much of the story was actually not that far from reality. I read this at the perfect time of year. Who knew that a novel about pilgrims would be such a page-turner? The writing was authentic and wonderful. The romance was amazing. No instant love or cliches to be found.
Overall, it was a great historical romance that had me hooked until the last page.
The Urban Hunters is like The Jungle Book set in Aboriginal Australia. When I saw the subtitle, “Billy’s Gotta Find Some Girls,” I knew I had to readThe Urban Hunters is like The Jungle Book set in Aboriginal Australia. When I saw the subtitle, “Billy’s Gotta Find Some Girls,” I knew I had to read it. I was pulled in from the first page by how vivid and visual the writing was. I was immersed in an entirely new and fascinating culture that was shocking, sad, beautiful and amazing. He dedicates this book to his nieces and nephews who “stared wide-eyed as I told them about Billy and Amber’s adventures” and I felt exactly the same way. I’ve never read anything like it. I was grossed out one minute, laughing out loud the next, and completely shocked by the sad and heart-breaking things that can happen to the Aboriginal people. I was a little stunned by how graphic some of it was (think rotting, maggott filled kangaroo type stuff), but I loved this book. Gary Taaffe did an excellent job of entertaining me and at the same time educating me on a different people and their way of life.
In Book 2, Tribal Scarring, it gets a little more serious than Book 1, Four Small Stones. I missed the light-hearted humor of the Book 1. Still, it was a nice contrast to see the dangers of living in the bush in Australia. I definitely felt some culture shock as I was reading about Billy and the rituals he goes through to become a man. The writing was intense and so well done. The author doesn’t spell everything out for you. He lets you discover this new culture on your own which I liked.
In Book 3, Walkabout, Billy goes into the “whitefella” culture for the first time and his culture shock is charming, honest and amusing. I loved the Australian lingo throughout the book. Some of the words I’d never heard before, but it wasn’t too difficult to figure out, like when he slides his “sunnies” (I’d call them sunglasses) to the top of his head. It helped me really get a feel for the culture. The story starts off a bit slow, but picks up with some more great gross-out hunting scenes that I loved from Book 1, but this time there are cute puppies. The humor had me laughing out loud in places, but mostly I felt myself smiling a lot at how innocent Billy is despite being able to hunt and live off of the land on his own at such a young age. Billy is a juxtaposition of seasoned warrior and innocent child that makes him incredibly easy to like. Overall, it was such a fun and entertaining adventure story.
The Gleaning is about a witch and warlock who are supposed to be enemies instead of lovers. Lily and Logan have been raised to fight each other to keeThe Gleaning is about a witch and warlock who are supposed to be enemies instead of lovers. Lily and Logan have been raised to fight each other to keep a balance between their light and dark magic. I loved how this was action-packed right from the start. It picks up right where the last one left off. We get to know the characters a lot more in this book which is something I felt like was missing from the first book. I loved Logan’s back story and I felt it added a lot to his character. The romance in this book was just plain adorable.
I liked the long flashback scene that goes back to the 1800s. Even though it distracted me a little from the plot since I couldn’t see at first how the two were related, I thought it was very entertaining to read. The flashback reminded me a lot of Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare because of the dashing, romantic characters and the setting from the past.
I loved the choices in this book. As you are reading along, you get to make choices as to where you think the plot should go. Both choices had a lot of scenes that were similar even though the plot moves in two directions. I loved them both, but I have a personal favorite (choice 1 if you are wondering!). It was an addicting read with some delightful Alice and Wonderland references. I thought this was a great addition to witch mythology.
This book felt like Harry Potter goes YA. I found some similarities to Harry Potter like the term "You Know Who," and a a restricted library. I likedThis book felt like Harry Potter goes YA. I found some similarities to Harry Potter like the term "You Know Who," and a a restricted library. I liked the magic. Women, or witch's, magic involves beauty, flowers, healing and nature. The men, or warlocks, are their enemies and have "opposite" powers though it doesn't go into a lot of detail what those powers are. It mentions mind reading powers and potions. The kind of stuff Snape would like. The conflict of having men and women being enemies from a curse was pretty cool. This isn't an average ebook - it has choices in it. It's not quite like choose your own adventure because the story line will end up in the same place. There are two choices in the story and when I went back and read the other choice, they eventually meet up at the same place in the story but it flesh's out the characters and their relationships a little more. If I were reading this again, I would probably read both choices and then move on. The characters were okay. They didn't seem very fleshed out, but they didn't bother me either. My favorite part of this book was the really cool conflict and the background behind it. Can't wait to read the next one. Or you could call it Romeo + Juliet meets witches and magic....more
I loved the glossary in this book. I know that sounds weird, but let me explain. The author, Gary, talks about how there’s a “rule” in writing that yoI loved the glossary in this book. I know that sounds weird, but let me explain. The author, Gary, talks about how there’s a “rule” in writing that you shouldn’t use colloquialisms and you should change the spelling to suit whatever country you’re selling it in. Gary says the heck with that because he thinks readers are smart – give them a glossary so they can learn and be entertained. I agree 100% (why didn’t Harry Potter do this!). The Australian flavor of this book is immensely entertaining. As a non-Australian, it’s pretty easy to follow the slang throughout the story after briefly reading through the glossary. (And even if you don’t read the glossary, the important words are explained in the story so you won’t be lost.)
We get to see more of Billy and Amber’s adventures in Budgie Smugglers. Billy is a boy from the Australian bush and Amber is a city girl that Billy meets. This book was just as laugh out loud funny as the first three books in this series. It was charming yet brutally honest and raw at the same time. The contrast between the two is so interesting. Like Billy talking about eating kangaroo pups and Amber being horrified by it. Then Billy explained it was to keep his grandfather fat so he can stay warm in the extreme conditions of living in the bush. See! They ate baby kangaroos and it’s disturbing and cute at the same time. And there were just enough gross-out scenes to make you squeal. Billy roasting a cat in a straight-forward way made me squirm. It was awesome. No way would I ever want to see Billy cook something, but I love reading about it in all it’s gory detailed glory. Billy slowly learning about girls and falling in love for the first time in his innocent way was just plain adorable. I can’t get enough of these characters and their adventures.
The beginning gave me this 80′s vibe because of all the Virtual Reality games that the main character, Tom, plays. The set-up is very similar to EnderThe beginning gave me this 80′s vibe because of all the Virtual Reality games that the main character, Tom, plays. The set-up is very similar to Ender’s Game, but the rest of the story was different enough that it didn’t feel like a copy-cat. There’s a lot of technical stuff and details at the beginning that made it hard to get into at first. The pace feels a little slow because there are some long historical passages about the world. I didn’t see how all these details could be relevant at first, but she utilizes all the details you know about the world to make some really cool conflicts. About half-way through, the pace picked up and the author’s attention to detail spilled over into the interesting, funny and sarcastic characters and their complex relationships. I flew through the last half of the book. The author surprised me more than once with some awesome plot twists. She did something with computers that I haven’t seen done before and then made it so funny. If you’re a fan of science fiction or video games (like I am), go grab this book.
Seraphina starts of with a traditional medieval fantasy setting, including the rich backdrop of medieval music which I loved. There’s an entire mytholSeraphina starts of with a traditional medieval fantasy setting, including the rich backdrop of medieval music which I loved. There’s an entire mythology of Saints to this world, none of which are very saint-like and it made me laugh. The conflict was a typical one about the mistrust and prejudice between two races. But further along in the story the author developed it into something more. It became about the struggle between emotions and reason. The dragons felt like modern people sent back to the middle ages with their emphasis on science, reason, and invention. I’ve always wondered how people from the middle ages would clash with modern people and it was very interesting to read. The writing was beautiful and the pace was relaxed but still kept my interest. The story reminded me in an odd way of Jane Austen. There was a focus on propriety, lots of personal and political intrigue, a respectful mixing of the classes not to mention lots of balls and dancing. Overall, it kept the spirit and style of traditional fantasy with just enough slight twists to keep it fresh. By far the most interesting and creative aspect of the whole book was the character Seraphina herself. It was an enjoyable read and the index in the back had my Google-loving self smiling with glee.
In Walkabout, Billy goes into the “whitefella” culture for the first time and his culture shock is charming, honest and amusing. I loved the AustraliaIn Walkabout, Billy goes into the “whitefella” culture for the first time and his culture shock is charming, honest and amusing. I loved the Australian lingo throughout the book. Some of the words I’d never heard before, but it wasn’t too difficult to figure out, like when he slides his “sunnies” (I’d call them sunglasses) to the top of his head. It helped me really get a feel for the culture. The story starts off a bit slow, but picks up with some more great gross-out hunting scenes that I loved from the first book but this time there are cute puppies. The humor had me laughing out loud in places, but mostly I felt myself smiling a lot at how innocent Billy is despite being able to hunt and live off of the land on his own at such a young age. Billy is a juxtaposition of seasoned warrior and innocent child that makes him incredibly easy to like. It was such a fun and entertaining adventure story.
In short, it was a great way to understand the plot of Paradise Lost, but “translating” it into modern English loses some of the awesome double meaninIn short, it was a great way to understand the plot of Paradise Lost, but “translating” it into modern English loses some of the awesome double meanings that Milton put into his poem. I would read this book after I had read the original version to make sure I was understanding everything that was going on, but it’s definitely not a replacement for reading the real thing. After about half-way through I finally started getting used to the language and used this book less. I found myself skimming the last half just to make sure I wasn’t way off course with what was going on. This book helped give me the confidence that I could make it through the dense poetry. I’m glad I got it and finally made it through Paradise Lost!