I don't remember exactly what inspired me to pick the first Hunger Games book, who recommended it to me, or how come I chose to read it when I knew no...moreI don't remember exactly what inspired me to pick the first Hunger Games book, who recommended it to me, or how come I chose to read it when I knew nothing about it. I read The Hunger Games last year, well before I even discovered book blogs, so I know it's not any book blog that introduced me to this series, although that can't be said for most of the books I read nowadays. After I read The Hunger Games, I was left with an odd sense of weirdness and worry, because I didn't like the book right away. How could I, when the book had so much violence and gory death descriptions? How could I say I loved a book where kids killed each other - some without any sense of guilt? How could I love a book with one of the most horrifying deaths ever (those who read this book will remember how the last tribute died)? I felt horribly nauseated and remember closing the book many times. But after thinking about the book for a few days, I understood the message of the book and what Suzanne Collins meant to achieve. That I was disgusted was just the apt response. That I understood how horrible Katniss' dystopian world is - was just what I had to pick up. Once I accepted that, I saw the book in a whole new light. Soon after, I read Catching Fire and if possible, enjoyedloved appreciated it (for want of a stronger word) even more. But neither of those books actually prepared me for the ride Mockingjay gave me, because, my-oh-my, this book is definitely way more complex!
Picking up from where we left in Catching Fire, Katniss is now in District 13 (yeah, it was always up there). Gale had managed to save Katniss' and his family from the bombs that destroyed most of District 12. As for Peeta, no one knows if he's alive or dead, as he had been captured by the Capitol towards the end of Catching Fire. Katniss spends most of the first many chapters in a heavily drugged up stupor. In fact, Katniss is dazed at so many parts in this book, and since the story is from Katniss' perspective, it means we are also as dazed as her. Suzanne Collins really wrote those sections very well, so much so that there are parts I read twice just to understand what happened. In her dazed state, there was so much Katniss couldn't, wouldn't absorb, and I, the reader definitely didn't either. Much as those passages were realistic, I felt cheated sometimes, because that served as an excuse to gloss over certain parts of the book, so that we are effectively in a fast-forward mode. In fact, things seem to be happening when she is in one of her stupors.
Mockingjay is so much about war and its repercussions, as it is about relationships and sacrifices. Even with a very dystopian setting, the themes explored as very relevant in our world. It shows how much war can be used to manipulate people and how much it can tear people apart. It shows how you will always be scarred psychologically by the wounds (not always physical) exerted by the war. It shows how the powers that fight a war still look for power - both sides, no matter what their intentions - can still play by the dirty rules. Haven't we always seen that? It also explores how there is never a and they lived happily ever after for war survivors, how they are constantly tortured by the demons they faced. I loved the ending of Mockingjay. I couldn't imagine a more perfect and realistic way to end things. I didn't see a need for a long drawn out explanation of what happened to each character and what happened during the aftermath of a certain event. But what I objected to was the actions of two characters, who I won't name here.
I am still on the fence on how I found Katniss in this book. I never liked her much in the first two books either, because as so many other characters mention in this book and the other two, Katniss is extremely selfish. (That said, I don't know what I am when I am left alone to my thoughts. We all probably have thoughts that we are embarrassed to share with anyone, because they may show us in a different light.) Then again, Katniss' selfishness/survival instinct can be blamed on her upbringing, where she had to pretty much fend for herself since she was a young girl. I alternatively felt bad for her and mad at her through the book. It's hard to be always on her side.
Another thing I appreciated was that this book wasn't a Team Peeta vs Team Gale battle. I didn't want to read another YA book about a girl choosing between two guys. That would be so cheesy and demeaning of a genre that has some excellent books and yet so many that choose that path. It's not every girl who gets to choose between two dashing guys, and besides, that sucks anyways, it's too heart-breaking. Still, there was oodles of romance in this one too, which I think could have been done without. At least, I'm glad we didn't have the girly giggly Katniss here, that we saw so much of in the previous two books (because I really cringed at that).
The other selling point here is that we don't have superhero teens doing things that adults can't do. It's not that I think teens need to be rescued instead of the other way around, but it's clearly not realistic when adults play dumb and teens seem to know everything. Isn't that, well, two extremes? I wanted a moderate picture and Mockingjay gives that. I was pleased that Katniss was not a heroine. Because she never was. She was thrust into a limelight that she never wanted. She just wanted to take her bow and go hunting just like she always did, without having to wear makeup or outlandish gowns. She just wanted an ordinary childhood, but she never got that. This is another reason why so much of her dizziness through the book makes a lot of sense.That's another reason why the ending made a lot of sense too.
Suzanne Collins' writing is beautiful. Although the book is huge, no words are wasted. She doesn't ramble nor does she preach. And yet there are so many philosophies spread through the book that they are more conscience-pricking one-liners than passage-long (pun-intended!) observations. I love it when writers can express an idea in very little words. I will have to read this book again just to catch those quotes. I couldn't note down any earlier because I couldn't put the book down to fetch my notebook.(less)
I can't stop exclaiming how much I love this series. No matter how many times I read this one, I still laugh at Pippin's self-important jokes and Sam'...moreI can't stop exclaiming how much I love this series. No matter how many times I read this one, I still laugh at Pippin's self-important jokes and Sam's insistence on being by his master, even when he is not invited. Moreover, this book is not shrouded by the darkness that creep in, in the remaining two books, so one can be excused if he/she says this is funny!
If you’ve been with us since the beginning, how do you feel about the narrator compared to the narrator in The Hobbit? This book's narration never once bugged me. I believe that's because this is written for an older audience than The Hobbit was geared towards. Hence, it was easier reading this one, since there were no distractions in the writing that diverted me from the focus of the story.
How’s your pace going? Is it smooth sailing or have you found passages that are difficult to get through? I didn't find any difficulty weaving through the passages, though once in a while, I was guilty of scanning through a para or two where the skies and the greenery and the beauty of the damsels are described. (In my defense, I sort of already know what the paragraphs are extolling. :-) ) Overall though, my pace was pretty decent without any hitches or bumps!
If you’ve read this series before, is The Fellowship of the Ring, for the most part, as you remembered? If not, is it what you expected or something else? The Fellowship of the Ring is as I remembered it, except at one point - the scene at the Ford of Rivendell, where I confused the facts from the book and those shown in the movie. Glorfindel is the elf that rescues the group at the Ford in the book, whereas in the movie, it is Arwen (predictably to avoid introducing too many characters).
Are you using any of the extra features- maps and indexes, for instance- in your book? I kept perusing the maps at many points. It's a little hard since the maps are part of regular pages in a Paperback, and not like any pull-out posters. I haven't really made much use of the index yet, except to study the Hobbit family tree, which, I should say is so complicated, it's funny that the Hobbits really remember it.
Do Books One and Two have significant differences to you? I wouldn't really say differences, but I felt the demarcation between the two stronger than when I previously read it. The first part deals with the travel of the group to Rivendell and the various dangers they faced. Book 2 is when most of the characters that become household figures are actually introduced. This is when we get acquainted with the rest of the Fellowship. Moreover, Book One is lighter than Book Two, which marks the beginning of the journey and adventures of the Fellowship.
Who’s your favorite character so far into the novel? That would be a contest between Pippin and Sam, but I think Pippin would win in the end. His jokes and light-heartedness are a constant delight to read amidst all the gloom. Sam's devotion to his master and his insistence on making Frodo comfortable are very endearing to read. His excitement on meeting the Elves for the first time, was so infectious!
What surprised you the most? There weren't very many surprises that I came across, other than the realization that Glorfindel rather than Arwen was with the traveling group in the last leg before Rivendell. In addition, I had quite forgotten that Frodo sells his house at Bag End before embarking on his trip.
What was your favorite scene? This has been a constant over the years - the Council of Elrond. I like how the different characters come together to explain their role in the story so far, and how Bilbo cheekily agrees to be the Ring-bearer! But what I like the most is the pages and pages of intense and fluid discussion among the characters, each person's nature very evident in their analyses and beliefs and also in their stance throughout. Even in the movie, this remains my favorite scene!(less)
There is only one thing occupying Connor's head these days and that is his upcoming unwinding. After the Second Civil War, a new law came into effect:...moreThere is only one thing occupying Connor's head these days and that is his upcoming unwinding. After the Second Civil War, a new law came into effect: the lives of children up to the age of 13 was well-protected. Beyond that, parents could choose to unwind their child - meaning allow the government to amputate every part of the child's body and use these parts for research or medical treatment. Since Connor's parents are no longer able to have any amount of control over him, they decide to unwind him. But Connor has other ideas and so he escapes one night. Somehow during his escape, he manages to cross paths with another unwind, Risa, whose state home could no longer afford to keep her in its care and a tithe, Lev, who was brought up by his parents just to give him up for unwinding - considered to be a holy action. Together, the three stumble across a hidden hive of unwinds and try to stay away from the authorities, until things go wrong.
My brother had been behind me to read this book, ever since he first read it a few years ago. I was pretty hesitant. Certain YA books just don't seem to work for me, and I still had no way of knowing how to recognize them before even turning a page. One day, I picked this book from the library for the husband to read, who devoured it in a few hours (and who is driving me crazy because of how quickly he gets through books while I am still in the first few chapters appreciating the writer's style, huff!). Finally, I gave the book a try and what do you know, I loved it!
Even though the idea of unwinding (splitting apart alive teens into parts that are just as alive as they were pre-unwinding) was depressingly sordid, the author really executed that idea well. The law was created to "protect" children and gave parents the right to decide whether their child was fit for society. Unfortunately that liberty also came with societal pressure (the expectations from fellow parents and peers to discipline their misbehaving kid).
The book is written from multiple perspectives, but mostly from three - Connor, Risa, and Lev. Some chapters come from very innovative perspectives that I found pretty clever. For instance, there is a chapter describing the reactions of a mob from its own perspective, another one from the perspective of a kid being unwound, etc. One of the major strengths of this book is its execution. Although occasionally, I felt the plot go weak or uninteresting, I was still hooked thanks to the way the author has organized the book.
To me, the most significant impression left by the book is in one of its chapters towards the latter half of the book, where one character gets unwound. Believe me when I say that chapter will really leave you gasping. Even despite being fed with tantalizing hints about the unwinding process, the real deal is still terribly poignant. Up until that chapter, I had been reading the book quick enough. At the end of that chapter, I couldn't really focus on anything. The husband also agreed that that chapter was very moving and powerful.
This is yet another book recommended by my brother that I loved. If the chap read more books more often, I would have replaced my recommendation engines with him - would have been more convenient. This is my first brush with Shusterman's work and I quite liked it. I doubt I will be sampling more of his books, but I probably will be looking forward to the sequel to Unwind.(less)
I didn't have this book in my TBR nor had I heard of it till a week ago, when I came across some ravingreviews in the Blogosphere. The description so...moreI didn't have this book in my TBR nor had I heard of it till a week ago, when I came across some ravingreviews in the Blogosphere. The description sounded interesting enough for me to request for the book at the library. Also it was a quick read, just 181 pages. I wasn't planning on reading it right away, but having started it one day at the gym, I couldn't put it away.
My opinion Barring the first chapter, the whole book consists of a series of letters that Jerusha / Judy writes to the mysterious trustee who sponsors her college education. In spite of knowing nothing about the person to whom the letters are addressed, Judy writes in a totally unabashed manner, demonstrating boldness, respect, indignation, affection, empathy, and humor in her letters.
Although she was told to address her benefactor as "John Smith", she hesitates to call him by a name that lacks "personality".
There are just three things that I know:
I. You are tall. II. You are rich. III. You hate girls.
I suppose I might call you Dear Mr. Girl-Hater. Only that's rather insulting to me. Or Dear Mr. Rich-Man, but that's insulting to you, as though money were the only important thing about you. Besides, being rich is such a very external quality. Maybe you won't stay rich all your life; lots of very clever men get smashed up in Wall Street. But at least you will stay tall all your life! So I've decided to call you Dear Daddy-Long-Legs.
Not only bold, but also brash!
Over the course of four years, she addresses him by several different names and also, changes her name in the letters several times. She writes usually on a whim, sometimes regretting what she wrote a letter ago. Her letters also acquaint us with her friends and her opinions of them, the subject she is currently fascinated of annoyed with at school and more than once, makes that the topic of her letter.
Although it is written in the form of a journal, Jean Webster does a good job revealing Judy's character through her letters. Her ramblings over her four years at college shows her transformation from a freshman who hasn't heard of Michelangelo (Michael Angelo, according to Judy), or Maurice Maeterlinck, and hasn't read Mother Goose, David Copperfield, Ivanhoe or Cinderella, to someone wiser, well-read and more intelligent than when she started.
Her changing opinions on different matters made for very interesting reading. Be it political or religious beliefs or how to manage an orphanage home (or asylum as she put it). She frequently talks about women getting voting rights and how men will then have to fight for theirs. Her lovely imagination and quirky humor was felt throughout the book. I definitely got the picture of a very intelligent girl who questions conventions (even if some of them aren't practical).
Sixth-hour bell--I must go to the laboratory and look into a little matter of acids and salts and alkalis. I've burned a hole as big as a plate in the front of my chemistry apron, with hydrochloric acid. If the theory worked, I ought to be able to neutralize that hole with good strong ammonia, oughtn't I?
You see what I mean? :)
Much as she is disappointed that her benefactor does not reveal himself or even correspond, other than through his secretary, she never hesitates to express her gratitude to him for having sponsored her education. While she occasionally does send him an angry or indignant letter, she quickly regrets that.
Once in a while, Judy's letters contain illustrations that act as accompaniment to what she is writing about. Most of these illustrations are pretty humorous. There is an illustration of herself having gained weight. Another illustration featuring eight cows and a ninth cow whose rear half is shown to indicate that one cow went missing. There is an interesting illustration of "a spider on the end of a string", only it's not a spider but Judy herself learning to swim.
Overall, this was a real fun read, with many a hilarious instance. Judy's charm and wit definitely engaged me and left me asking for more. I now look forward to reading its sequel, Dear Enemy.
Title Demystified As the summary states, this is the name that Judy gives to her mysterious benefactor, whose only striking feature she noticed is the shadow of his long legs. I'm sure if I didn't know the synopsis of the book, I would still pick this one up to read, just going by the catchy intriguing name.
Cover Art Demystified My edition of Daddy-Long-Legs features a girl (presumably Judy / Jerusha) seated by her window gazing out. She also happens to be in the midst of writing in a notebook. So I would assume she's either writing to Daddy-Long-Legs, or most likely, writing a story to pursue her dream of being an author. The book does describe a few scenes where she sits by the window to get inspiration while writing a story, esp in the Farm she goes to during the summer. (less)
Although I wasn't too impressed with City of Bones, I was hooked enough to grab the next book from the library and place a hold on the third. Though t...moreAlthough I wasn't too impressed with City of Bones, I was hooked enough to grab the next book from the library and place a hold on the third. Though the suspense only deepened, I am hoping for more answers in the 3rd book, City of Glass.
My opinion City of Ashes is just as quick a read as City of Bones. It starts out where the first book left off - with a confused Jace and Clary trying to adapt to the weird family revelation made by Valentine. Clary's best friend, Simon, comes back into prominence and re-bonds with Clary. Valentine, on the other hand, is trying to get control of the second Mortal Instrument, the Soul-Sword. He still has cleansing of the Downworlders on his agenda.
I found the character relationships better developed here. Jace, especially was well-written, though he mostly struck me as unpredictable in his thoughts and actions. Simon, as Clary's best friend, and potential boyfriend, is thankfully not projected as a dumb-head in this book. I was tired of all the verbal bullying he had to endure from Jace, Alex and Isabella, and I'm sure if not for Clary, he would have given the Shadowhunters the cold shoulder, which is what I wanted him to do. He is more into his person in this book, and it was nice to see Jace standing up for Simon, once in a while.
As in the first book, I wasn't too impressed with the writing and the dialogue delivery. There are lines of conversations that were very irrelevant. Such conversations are brought in, usually to build rapport among the characters and to increase our familiarity with the characters. Somehow, I felt neither in this case, since I already knew the characters well, and they knew each other well too. Moreover, 453 pages is quite long, considering there is quite a bit of irrelevant banter in the book. At one point, I just wanted to finish the book, since it was getting too predictable for comfort.
Those who didn't read the first book, skip the following paragraph and head over to the next.
I would have expected Jace and Clary to embrace each other as siblings and get used to it, not have another go at kissing as was suggested by the Queen Fey. Probably the plot line demanded it, but there really was no need of some romance just to include it. I am guessing that all this is done for a purpose, so that when some different revelation is made in the next book, the reader is able to invite the romance as natural. Nevertheless, I did cringe on reading this. It was a horrible thing to imagine.
Thankfully, there was more original content in this book than in City of Bones. Remember I mentioned that I found City of Bones to be medley of a few popular books. City of Ashes though, has quite a few concepts original to it, at least, I hadn't read of them in any other book (and since I read very little fantasy, please do not take my word for or against it.)
For no reason, than just to share with you, here's a quote I really liked from this book:
As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?
Overall, I give City of Ashes the same rating as City of Bones. This is quite a gripping read, with plenty of thrills and twists. A guilty pleasure read.
Title Demystified I thought the title, City of Bones, was hard to crack. City of Ashes is even harder! There's not much indication what this title stands for other than the Silent City, which is what City of Bones meant as well. The Silent City is the "library" of the Shadowhunters maintained by the Silent Brothers, who speak in your head and mutilate themselves to enhance their knowledge.
Cover Art Demystified The red haired girl on the cover is Clary, and unlike Jace in the cover of the first book, who is completely adorned with runes, Clary has just a few, but as you will see in this book, she manages pretty well, due to, err, an uncanny power that she has.(less)
I had read the first page of this book, soon as it arrived at my doorstep. Right then I was hooked, and had to resist from reading further. Bernice Mc...moreI had read the first page of this book, soon as it arrived at my doorstep. Right then I was hooked, and had to resist from reading further. Bernice McFadden's writing is so beautiful, that I just lost myself in it. The very first page was stunning both in its prose and in it's sharp narration.
My opinion In the Spring of 1940, a little girl, Jude, is found dead in Bigelow, Arkansas, in the most brutal manner possible. Her death sends the whole community into shock and devastates her parents, Pearl and Joe Taylor.
The murder had white man written all over it. (That was only a half truth.) But no one would say it above a whisper. It was 1940. It was Bigelow, Arkansas. It was a black child. Need any more be said?
Fifteen years later, Pearl is still trying to come to terms with Jude's death. In the Spring of that year, when Sugar Lacey arrives in Bigelow, Pearl is struck by Sugar's resemblance to Jude in her profile. Pearl's initial attempts to befriend Sugar do not win her Sugar's confidence. But when it finally does, what she learns about Sugar shames and angers her.
Sugar Lacey was abandoned by her mother at birth. Instead, she was brought up by the Lacey sisters, who run a brothel house. When Sugar gets older, prostitution becomes her sole profession, and it takes her through St. Louis and Detroit, where her dire experiences teach her many a lesson.
I enjoyed Sugar for its story, character focus and the writing. As I followed the friendship between Sugar and Pearl, I was quite warmed by the positive influences each had on the other. On one side, Pearl was trying to revive her old life that she had lost after her daughter's death. Her sex life had disappeared and she still despaired after Jude. Sugar, on the other hand, was trying to come to terms with her choice of profession and with her family history, or rather, lack of it. Each tried to help the other through various decisions. And when Pearl began to show the first streaks of wildness in her nature, I quite whooped with joy!
The locals' excessive interest in Sugar laced with their contempt for a woman of "her type" made for a humorous reflection. None of the women wanted Sugar there, but they all made initial attempts to visit her at home to have a peek at her. Occasionally, the novel takes on a light thread and provides a few humorous passages. Other times, it takes on a dark note and chills me in its meaning.
Sugar does great justice to the characters. In spite of being just 229 pages, the character development is impressive. Sugar's sharpness and Pearl's quiet strength are vividly felt, while Joe Taylor's love for and support of his wife are echoed through the pages. In addition, I could strongly share in the happiness and sadness, exultation and despair felt by the characters at various points. While it didn't exactly arouse strong emotions in me, the prose definitely had me empathize with the characters.
Somehow, the ending didn't work that well for me. It wasn't a bad ending, but I didn't find it outstanding either. I was pleased to see all loose ends tied up, but the threads of coincidence that ran through them disappointed me. Nevertheless, this is a great book to read, and Bernice McFadden's beautiful writing had me totally immersed in the book. It's the kind of writing that flows very smoothly without any jerks. I am now looking forward to reading her new book, Glorious!
Title Demystified Sugar Lacey, the titular protagonist is quite a marvelous character. I couldn't help but embrace her character affectionately, both for her sharpness of wit and for her no-nonsense nature. She didn't care if the whole world looked down on her and spoke about her behind her back, she was her own mistress. As she went through some heart-wrenching incidents, I felt quite sad for her.
Cover Art Demystified The theme, the setting and the protagonist's beauty and style of dressing are so well captured in this picture. This is one of the best book covers I've seen, and it has to do with the well-captured silhouette against the brilliant yellow fields as the backdrop!(less)
Dana Porter is a famous painter whose most famous work, The Barns of Lumby, is stolen en route to a London museum. The owner of the painting, Norris F...moreDana Porter is a famous painter whose most famous work, The Barns of Lumby, is stolen en route to a London museum. The owner of the painting, Norris Fiddler, is raising a lot of hue and cry, while at the same time, milking the theft for all its worth. Back in Lumby, home to the barns in the painting, the residents are thrust into a limelight they do not want, as reporters from across have set camp in town to glean more news. While the FBI and several detectives try to crack the global case of a stolen painting, Lumby has its own quirky mysteries. Town's octogenarian, Charlotte Ross, seems to have a strange connection to the barn and the painting. The flourishing rum sauce business of the monks of Saint Cross Abbey is the victim of a hostile takeover. Katie is puzzled by her missing goats and low goat milk yield on one end, and by her growing feelings for a reporter.
Stealing Lumby is the second book in the Lumby series by Gail Fraser. These books do not have to be read in series to be understood, though that obviously helps to know the background history of some characters and events. For those not aware of the Lumby series, Lumby is a fictional town in the US, whose people are very quirky. In fact, as former New Yorker Pam Walker says to Brother Matthew when he catches her reading the New York Times,
"...it's so different from The Lumby Lines that it's almost unbelievable that we live in the same country. Their stories cover pension funds and murders, and ours are about wiener dog races and a bovine Iditarod."
After reading the highly entertaining The Lumby Lines, I was a tad disappointed with Stealing Lumby. Both books are very predictable, with mysteries that aren't hard to solve. The pace of the series is slow with conversations detailed. While these are usually characteristics that turn off readers, the Lumby books stand out in that the town and the characters are charming in their innocence. The pace and the predictability in no way interfered with my expectations. These are the kind of books you want to read after some heavy reads.
That said, Stealing Lumby had way too many central characters. The Lumby Lines had a lot of characters too, but the focus was primarily on a small group of them. Keeping track of all the characters was not a trouble at all, but I would have loved the focus to be on just a few of them. Still, the aspect I liked was that being the second book of the series, I already knew most of the characters, so they didn't feel like "new" characters to me. But someone reading this book for the first time could likely be bothered by that. Moreover, some features that made The Lumby Lines entertaining, such as the regular appearance of Hank, the flamingo, and the frequent Sheriff reports of silly town problems were missing. Both were there in this book, but they were hardly observed.
The biggest difference I observed between the two books was in how much tinier the Lumby town as a character was. The book's enjoyment owes to the quirkiness of the town, but with so many characters to keep track of, that was somehow lost. I couldn't feel the charm of the town as much as in the first book. Aside from that, this was still enjoyable and the characters lively. Lumby is the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone else and everyone knows when to respect others. They stand up for each other and come together when help is needed. You don't see such towns anywhere, which is why this is fiction. I still wished to go to Lumby for real as I was reading this book.(less)
There is a discussion question at the end of the book mentioning about readers who want to escape to Lumby soon as they finish the book, since it appe...moreThere is a discussion question at the end of the book mentioning about readers who want to escape to Lumby soon as they finish the book, since it appears to be a place where life is easier, people are more honest and communities are closer. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to go to Lumby.
I think... When The Lumby Lines begins, Simon Dixon, the sheriff, has just entered his office to hear of 3 complaints: some kids have been catapulting chickens over goalposts; a woman complained that each time she turns on the kitchen light, the doorbell rings; and a pair of goats have been making a breakfast of ten- and twenty-dollar bills in the bank they got stuck in. Now if that didn't suck you in, nothing else will!
Sheriff's complaints, July 4: 8.41a.m. Allen Miller, age six, called to complain about his mom's oatmeal.
The Lumby Lines has some very vibrant characters. Mark and Pam Walker are planning to move to Lumby to restore Montis abbey, which was once home to a resourceful set of monks. The monks, themselves make an appearance, when they come to visit the new owners. In the cast is also Pam's best friend, Brooke Shelling, who comes to Lumby as an architect to help the Walkers realize their dream. In the process, she falls in love with the town. Another interesting character is William Beezer, who is never introduced directly in the book but is mentioned in third person.
Sheriff's complaints, July 5: 6.06p.m. Mrs. Hutchings reported small black bear going into neighbor's garage.
My favorite character though is Hank, the plastic flamingo who "stays" near Montis Abbey. Hank's attire changes along with the town's big news of the moment. For instance, when construction starts over in Montis abbey, Hank is dressed in workman's clothes. On 4th of July, someone has attired him in the colors of the US flag.
Sheriff's complaints, July 28: 3.27p.m. Woman reported that a car in front of Dickenson's has too many bumper stickers on it.
Can you imagine a town where the main hobby is reading the Sheriff's report? Scattered through the book are some of those Sheriff reports and other clippings from the local newspaper. I thoroughly enjoyed these digressions. There are stories about flying pigs and a moose with a tricycle in its head. Lumby briefly has a dog for a mayor. There is an unknown person who paints the mailboxes of some residents green, leaving their owners shocked when they wake up in the morning. Oh, and you will never believe who ate all that marijuana being grown as in the Montis abbey (for good reasons). Really! That just had me in fits of giggles.
Sheriff's complaints, August 20: 7.02a.m. Man from Hunts Mill Road reported that his mailbox was painted during the night. 7.56a.m. Lumby resident from Hunts Mill Road reported that all the mailboxes on the street had been painted except for hers.
The Lumby Lines is one of the quirkiest books I've ever read! It has humor, plenty of HEAs, and some very interesting characters. It is something you can read when you are really under the blues and need a book to pull you up. It is one of those feel-good books that will leave you smiling. Most of the book is predictable and there are no major mysteries, except for maybe one or two, but even in spite of that, it leaves you with a nice feeling. I already can't wait to pick the next book in the series!(less)
This is the first series I've completed in a long time. Which isn't saying much, since this one has just 3 books. There's a fourth book coming out nex...moreThis is the first series I've completed in a long time. Which isn't saying much, since this one has just 3 books. There's a fourth book coming out next year, which is sort of a spin-off from the first 3, though the events happen after the events of the first three books. I'm not sure if I'll read it, I'm not too impressed by this series, though it certainly is lively!
My opinion At 541 pages, City of Glass is the largest of the 3 books in this series, but it still reads almost as fast as the earlier two books. There's a war brewing up, and most of the book is about how all characters try to come together to fight on the same side, in spite of their differences. We still have our favorite characters doing our favorite things, and also some "condemnable" things. We have a lot of characters making peace with their beliefs and with others. Plus, we get a lot of answers too (Boy have I waited since book one for those?)
There's very little I can say of this book without giving the plot away, since being the 3rd book, you really need to have read the previous two books before being able to grasp the plot points of this one. Suffice it to say that the bad guy, Valentine, is trying to find the third Mortal Instrument, so that he can summon the Angel who created the Shadowhunter race, and demand a wish that can lead to several people dying.
I liked this book better than the previous two books, and would have given it a half rating more if possible. The answers to the many questions I had by the end of City of Ashes were tied up together pretty well. The writing is much better too, and that was a refreshing change from the earlier two books.
In spite of how well explained the mysteries were, City of Glass was a tad predictable. The main characters reach Idris, the home town of the Shadowhunters, where they stay at the house of some friends, along with two new characters. I sort of guessed most of the story at that point itself, it was only a matter how they were going to be linked together. But I was thankful that the author didn't resort to any garish or totally unconnected solutions at the end.
Somehow, this one was slower in pace than the other books. There's really not much that happens, so although it was better than the previous two books and more action-packed, it wasn't as fast-paced. It didn't really bother me much, but considering that this one is at least a 100 pages longer than the previous two, I didn't quite see the point.
I loved the battles depicted in this book. Though one is only mentioned as to be taking place, the darker first attack was quite creepy. Nevertheless, the descriptions of those scenes were done pretty well.
Overall, much as I wasn't so taken in by this series, the third book made the reading a lot more worth it. Still, a guilty pleasure read!
Title Demystified Most of this book takes place in Idris, which is the home of the Shadowhunters. Idris is described as so beautiful, that anyone who leaves after staying there for a while gets homesick. Somehow I didn't get much touched by the apparent beauty. I'm not sure if it's because I read it fast or because the descriptions were really far and few between! Idris is called the City of Glass, I'm guessing it's because of the glass structures in the city.
Cover Art Demystified The guy in the cover is Sebastian, one of the crucial characters in this book. Though I wasn't initially happy with the introduction of yet more new faces, I managed to look beyond it.(less)
Daniel has been looking for the same girl for centuries. He first saw her in 541 AD. Since then, he has come across her in several of their future liv...moreDaniel has been looking for the same girl for centuries. He first saw her in 541 AD. Since then, he has come across her in several of their future lives. He remembers her; she doesn't. In their current lives, Daniel and the girl, Lucy, attend the same high school. She is smitten by him but they do not get a chance to talk until prom night, when an incident at school puts the two of them in the same room. That night when they kiss, Lucy is frightened both by the images that come to her mind and by Daniel's insistence in calling her Sophia.
I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this book quite a lot. It is not exactly my usual genre, and there were some aspects that did turn me off. But in the end, I am truly glad to have read this book.
At the outset, this book accepts that when people die, their souls come back as a different person. Not exactly something I would believe in, so you can see why it is not my usual genre. I find it easy reading science, or steampunk, or dystopian fiction, but when it comes to souls and afterlife and rebirth, I usually go uh-uh. Although I was expecting to be bothered by that, I found it rather easy to accept the "principles" of life in this book. Maybe because there is no talk of religion or because there is no hand of God in any of these happenings. Far from it, it happens to be the accepted way of life, and very few of them retain memories from their old lives. Kind of like recycling - instead of paper, souls go through that process here.
Being as it is composed of fantastic ingredients, there will always be questions about how anything happens in this book - be it soul "recycling", or how Daniel's memory is intact but not many of the others'. I wasn't entirely satisfied with some of these answers, but Daniel himself admits to being unaware or unsure of them. Another thing that bothered me quite a lot, was the ease with which Daniel gave up his lives - most of the times for Sophia. Maybe if I knew that I will be born again, I may be just as lax, but it makes me cringe, when he does it just because he "loves" a woman with whom he hasn't spent much time together. The "love" Daniel feels for Sophia is fascinating, and when one has lived for centuries the way Daniel has, priorities probably take shape, and Daniel's must have been Sophia. But I would have appreciated to see a little more respect towards the life he had at the moment. This is a debatable point, and I have kept vacillating against and in defense of Daniel, but it makes me wonder, if we had all of eternity to live, would we be just as indifferent to life? (Somehow a part of me tells 'yes'.)
Daniel and Sophia's story is actually quite pleasing to read about. Although none of Sophia's "lives" initially falls for Daniel's insistence that he has known her for centuries, I'm sure my reaction would be far more outrageous than Sophia's. A story like this wouldn't be complete without a villain, and we have Daniel's brother (in one of his lives) take that role, due to a shared history in which Daniel's brother came off as the loser.
My Name is Memory is an adult book, but I was very disappointed with the writing. I found it too simplistic, sometimes repetitive, and almost always the two characters behaved like fifteen-year olds. The dialogue at many points was too cheesy. This is disappointing because this book has a good idea which Ann Brashares has executed well. If the writing was better, I would have enjoyed it more.
I understand that this is the first book in a trilogy, and sure, the battle is far from over. But much of this book is slow, since there is a lot of history doled out to show the emotional or spiritual connection between Daniel and Sophia. I expected an ambiguous ending, but I can't say I am exactly eager to grab the next book in the trilogy. The cliffhanger wasn't so much one. So while I may choose to read the next book some time, I won't be exactly impatient for it.(less)
I'm sure this book has been reviewed a lot already, and that the Twilight fans will definitely read it (or have already read it), while the non-fans a...moreI'm sure this book has been reviewed a lot already, and that the Twilight fans will definitely read it (or have already read it), while the non-fans aren't going to go one step near this book. So instead of a typical review, I'll just do some me-history-talk.
Until last summer, I would read only a couple of books a month. Not that I read slow, but once I completed a book, I waited a long time before picking the next book. This was mainly because, well, when I start a book, I would neglect work just to read. (Sssh!) Of course, I still do that but am disciplined now, and it took a lot of restraint to get here. So just to get more book choices, I joined a few online book clubs. I was still expecting to read one book, followed by a long break and only then the next book. And then, one of the book clubs chose Twilight as its monthly read. Now mind you, I hadn't even heard of this series. Stephenie Meyer who? But I liked the name of the book, and I had absolutely no idea what the book was about. I don't recollect if I knew it was about vampires. Probably not, else I would not have picked it up at all. So I placed a hold for the book at the library.
Then I started reading it. The rest, as they say, is history.
Well, not quite, I'm supposed to be talking about that history here.
So Twilight was .... engrossing. That's about the best adjective I can use here. I didn't like the book. I loved Edward, of course, and their tame vampire clan. I didn't like Bella. I hated her clinging-to-Edward's-shoulder actions. And I hated the writing. But I found it engrossing. So I got the remaining three books and devoured them over a weekend. Three books of 500+ pages. And I still found the books engrossing, although I complained about each book. So what is it about books like these that keep you turning pages? Even as you squirm and cringe at every page?
And then I realized that although the book ends on a cliffhanger, there are no new books staring at me from the horizon. Meyer recently confessed to being burned out on vampires. So I promised myself that I will not read another book in this series until I get a guarantee that the last book is out. So I was barely interested in The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. I mean, I barely remembered Bree. I just recalled one scene where she was being killed. And let's be honest, by that point of the story in Eclipse, weren't we all coaxing the Cullens to kill her? That was enough of drama, and we really didn't need another new vampire in the mix. And then, Meyer announces that the book will be free to read online between June 7th and July 5th. I considered that I would be a fool to pass up the opportunity to read a book free - it didn't matter which book. This was like a giveaway, except that everyone got a copy.
So after reading this book, I didn't exactly feel anything. I liked reading from Bree's perspective, but it wasn't exactly engrossing. It was like telling the same story from another perspective, but without any "Oh" moments. Bree was one of the newborn vampires recruited (rather, created) to get rid of Bella and the Cullens. Much of the book focuses on her days till the day of the battle. I did feel some sympathy for her and her circumstances, but not enough to feel it tragic. The story was pretty plausible, and it was refreshing not to have Bella or Edward in pivotal roles. Whooosh! The writing was a lot better than in the remaining four Twilight books, but it still lacked some depth. I blazed through the novella within two hours, and just rolled over to sleep. I didn't exactly feel there was something momentous in this book, rather it smacked of a gap-filler.
So, to continue my history, Twilight did do a good thing for me eventually. I read more. Not overwhelmingly more, but more than I've ever read. I guess that's when I got interested with this whole until-then-non-existent world of book blogging and online bookish websites. Like many would say, if a book can get you to read, or read more, as in my case, why blame the book? (less)
(If you haven't read Leviathan but plan to, or if you wish not to be exposed to spoilers, skip the following paragraph. The rest of the review is just...more(If you haven't read Leviathan but plan to, or if you wish not to be exposed to spoilers, skip the following paragraph. The rest of the review is just a plain write-what-I-felt review.)
Deryn and Alek are finally aboard the Leviathan. Alek is the heir to the Austria-Hungary kingdom, while Deryn is actually posing as a boy so that she can serve as a midshipman on the Leviathan airship. No one knows that Deryn is a girl, but one person eventually suspects. Those aboard the ship hope to bring the war to an end, but it's not that simple. The Ottomans haven't yet joined the war, but recent actions by the British (Darwinist) have tipped the Ottomans towards the Germans (Clankers). To prevent that, the Leviathan is making its way towards the Ottoman empire, so that they can make a gift to the Ottoman king and thus win his favor. (Potential spoilers over)
The Leviathan series is set against the World War I. Except, this is alternate reality. Although most of the fundamentals of the WW1 are retained, the author has changed enough facts about the WW1 to make this a fictional event in its own right. I've said this before - I'm not a fan of alternate reality. Buuuuuut, I'll swallow my words just for this series. There's something about the way this series is written that makes me want to read more. I stopped making comparisons halfway into the first book. Leviathan shared a lot of similarities with actual WW1 events, Behemoth even less. One thing I truly admired is how well Scott Westerfeld has mapped events in this trilogy to real events without making them appear contrived or duplicated.
Deryn continues to remain my favorite character in this series. Scott writes his female heroines really well. I noticed this in the Uglies series also. Deryn poses as a boy, Dylan, because girls weren't allowed to fight. She's content being a boy and doesn't like any girly traits or behavior. On the other hand, just like any girl, she has deep yearnings that she struggles against. For instance, she's falling in love with a certain someone, and wants him to notice her. A moment later, she remembers he doesn't even know she's a girl, and that fact makes her sad. Yet another moment later, she's chiding herself for thinking like a maiden in distress who needs help, and shakes herself back to the boy she is pretending to be. If this was a real movie, she would have received accolades for her brilliant acting!
Even with all the Clanker and Darwinist jargon, I was looking forward to more "technological innovations" of that period. While I didn't want to support the Clankers (obviously), I could relate more to them than the Darwinists, with their "godless" (as the Clankers love to say) fabricated animals. My favorite highlight of this book is the fabricated loris, that can perceive your emotions so well, warn you about approaching sounds of people/other creatures/machines. That's a pet I would love to have!
Did I mention the awesome artwork inside the book done by Keith Thompson? It would have been so hard to imagine a lot of the creatures and machines otherwise!(less)
Teenager Lucille is having identity issues. The book starts off with her addressing her sexual needs and looking at her thin stalk-like body in vain....moreTeenager Lucille is having identity issues. The book starts off with her addressing her sexual needs and looking at her thin stalk-like body in vain. The boy she is interested in has jumped out of her research team to work with a girl he likes. She is worried that no one will like her, and her mother isn't too helpful when Lucille asks her about it, saying that Lucille's looks doesn't matter since she has brains. Lucille's identity issues soon escalate sending her into a spiraling abyss of anorexia. However, even after she is discharged from hospital care, she is still obsessed with losing weight, and is too weak to even move much.
Lucille, the book, introduces another character - Arthur, who I feel is the more important character of the book. Arthur has extreme OCD; he keeps counting - counting steps, counting slabs, counting just about anything. His father has severe alcoholism and rage problems, which often result in bar fights. After one such bar fight in Arthur's presence makes Arthur disfigure the face of an influential man, his father finds difficulties finding a new job, having just been laid off his previous one. Arthur also inherits his father's temper. Both kids - Arthur and Lucille - have issues, stemming from certain lonesome experiences as kids. As teenagers, they both struggle to fit into society and develop anorexia/OCD as a means to combat with their loneliness and low self-esteem issues.
Lucille and Arthur eventually meet up, and the story afterwards is as rich as the one before. Two people with issues don't always complement each other. Their destructive traits can bring the other person down. I was impressed with how the author played their dynamic relationship. This is a love story and yet not one either. It's about two misfits who find each other and relate with each other's weaknesses. They find comfort in the fact that they can be themselves with each other and not pretend to be someone else. And yet with that acceptance of each other, they also dawdle in their own obsessions and find it hard to overcome them. I found this a very moving story and it is a testimony to Ludovic's brilliant graphics that I found my emotions spanning a whole gamut as I followed the characters' lives. If I had one issue with this book, it was how their first meeting was handled. I thought it appeared a bit cheesy and unbelievable.
Ludovic uses very clean drawing that removes away any clutter in the picture. There's only the necessary amount of detail in it - nothing more, nothing less. And that allows the reader to feel the loneliness of the characters and their anguish in certain circumstances. Most of the focus is on the characters of the book. Their expressions, even when stripped of all emotions, tell a lot. Lucille is not told in a linear fashion, and we learn some things early and some later. This works well for the story because the author doesn't waste time and pages in dragging out a moment but the aftermath of the moments can still be felt. In addition to letting his pictures capture the raw emotions of the characters, he also uses dreams and internal dialogues to exhibit their restless minds. Both Lucille and Arthur dream of flying away from their problems.
This book deals with anorexia, alcoholism, dysfunctional relationships and OCD in a very delicate manner. Although that's a lot of issues, it doesn't feel like too much, because the graphic medium easily laps it up. Those who loved Blankets by Craig Thompson and Stitches by David Small will enjoy this one. Lucille shares the very expressive anguish of Blankets and the uncluttered, simple and articulate drawings of Stitches. The French original of Lucille has already won a lot of awards. At 545 pages, this is a huge book, but I finished it in an hour and a half. And it's just part one, so it ends with a lot of questions. The part two, Renée, has already been published in French, and will be published in English next year. The publisher, Top Shelf Productions, is soon becoming a favorite of mine. They had published Blankets, which I absolutely loved, and also The Complete Essex County, which I can't wait to read. And I just finished another new one by them which I enjoyed.(less)
Beatrice is nervous. She has a test coming up soon. The test. The test that will determine her future. On a particular day each year, all sixteen-year...moreBeatrice is nervous. She has a test coming up soon. The test. The test that will determine her future. On a particular day each year, all sixteen-year olds have to take a test that will find the dominant quality they possess and thus find the faction that best suits them. A day after the test, they have to make their choice. If they choose a different faction from the one they were born in, they cannot return back or meet their parents. Beatrice's test doesn't go as expected, forcing her to keep a secret, and she ends up making a choice that surprises everyone. However, when she begins to hear hints of a growing conflict, her secret becomes suddenly life-threatening and she has to do something to save herself.
Finally, the review I've been writing in my head for two months but have been really reluctant to translate that to paper (or bytes). I almost feel like I'm standing among a sparse group of people on one side of the fence facing a huge fanbase who loved this book. Honestly, I found just one other person on my Goodreads friends' list who rated this book at 2 stars, everyone else gave it 4 or 5. I'm bordering at 3. You see, I didn't get the appeal of this series. At all. And that was quite disappointing because it is being touted as the next Hunger Games phenomenon, and I loved the Hunger Games series! Just recently, soon after the release of the first HG book, someone in the publishing industry was asked what next after the entire HG movies were released. And he pointed at the Divergent trilogy. I could only look down disappointed. (I wish I had noted down who said this, but right now you only have my word here and it's true.)
Divergent is the first book in yet another YA dystopian trilogy in a market that now seems saturated with them. I love me some good dystopia. I love watching dystopian movies and I like imagining all the possible ways the world can reach a state of utter chaos and mismanagement. (That makes me better appreciate today's world as we know it.) Divergent is actually good. It invests in the concept of a test to determine one's true calling but hides that behind the idea that the individual always has choice in the matter. Quite unlike The Giver, in which what you were deemed good at becomes your job for life, but still not too different for me to not raise my eyebrows. There are five factions in Divergent - each valuing a particular trait - truth, insane daredevilry bravery, selflessness, knowledge, peace. Obviously, there are people who do not fit in either. They become the homeless who have to live on other people's kindness (usually those of the Abnegation faction). And then there are people who spoiler... mumble ... spoiler. As our heroine of this trilogy is.
My big issue with the book is that I felt the author was trying too hard to create the dystopian world. Unlike many other utopian and dystopian lit I have come across, this world never quite felt natural to me. A lot of the elements felt too convenient, and so much goes unexplained, violating the 'Show, Don't Tell' adage. I was reminded of too many other books while reading this one. I am by no means saying that the idea isn't original. It is, to a limit. I just felt that I had read other better similar books, especially The Giver and The Hunger Games. I ended up feeling that the world was standing on some weak stilts. Even the conflict at the end felt artificial and its motivation felt very weak. Although there were very vague hints of some impending danger, the conflict felt to me to have come out of nowhere - without sufficient buildup and anticipation. I guess I could say that it felt more like a terrorist attack than a planned war. But at the same time, knowing something about the coming conflict, spoiled the element of surprise that terrorism usually brings.
As is customary now in YA dystopia, there is some romance too. Actually, cross that. There is just a little more romance than I felt comfortable with. Which is okay. I've never enjoyed the fixation with romance in YA books, but its presence didn't really bother me because I expected it. What did bother me was how lame it all sounded. There is an unapproachable guy who is up to his forehead full of secrets and we have a heroine who is feeling somewhat attracted to that image. Ring a bell, anyone? At one point, the romance felt too sugary and eye-rubbing for me to even enjoy it.
I did like (a little) Beatrice's character. I didn't care for any of the other characters - almost all of them felt very flat to me. I initially felt guilty that I was again being too demanding of strong characters before I remembered that there are other YA books with strong characters. I liked Beatrice because of the reason I like a woman/girl character - she is independent, thinks for herself, can protect herself. I also liked the whole training session in the book - there are skills to be learned and the competitors are ranked by their performance. A little game in any book is always welcome.
I should probably end my review now, lest I get some tomatoes hauled at my face. If you haven't read this book yet, you may not need to take my opinion here. There are PLENTY of readers who loved it, which makes me the oddball, something that rarely happens with dystopia. Last weekend, I went and picked up Insurgent (the second book in the trilogy), because that's how confused I am about my reading choices, but I am yet to open a page of that book. I am thinking it is something I could read over the weekend in a couple of sittings, just to know what happens, but unless Insurgent does the Divergent formula a little better, I may not find my thoughts on that book any different.(less)
I still remember the thrill I got when I read my first Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code. His book was already gracing so many bestseller lists that it wa...moreI still remember the thrill I got when I read my first Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code. His book was already gracing so many bestseller lists that it was hard to back down and say no. Besides, I was very curious about this dude and whatever it was that he had written. I read. I enjoyed. I favorited. Then, I read all the articles of how he didn't really get all his history right and how he bungled some of them for maximum impact. Literary license, they said. That fogged my impression of Dan Brown tremendously, but not before I devoured two more of his books - Angels & Demons and Digital Fortress. Later, I also read The Lost Symbol, and was excited by the fact that it was set in a place I had actually visited multiple times (D.C.).
Still, none of the books, barring Angels and Demons really reached the caliber and awesomeness level of The Da Vinci Code, Inferno included. By now, everyone can write a template of a Dan Brown book in their sleep and they just need Brown to fill in the blanks with some essentials such as location and lead female character's name. They all involve his protagonist, Robert Langdon, racing across a huge landscape within a humanly impossible timeframe. He also seems to have a knack for knowing exactly what mystery to solve to get the next piece of a puzzle, plus, he seems to have a different lady companion each time (whatever happened to Vittoria Vetra (Angels and Demons), Sophie Neveu (The Da Vinci Code) and Katherine Solomon (The Lost Symbol)? For a supposedly unadventurous professor, he sure seems to go through women too fast.
Inferno has pretty much everything you would expect from a Dan Brown novel - there's a puzzle, there's a race against time, there's a woman (ha!), there's a life-and-death matter, and there's a bad guy. The puzzle is constructed almost with the intention that someone should solve it and stop the Bad Deed. Surprisingly, Inferno does deviate from the regular path considerably. For once, there is not much Symbology in here - there's just enough to warrant Langdon's presence. The prime art theme in Inferno is Dante and his The Divine Comedy. Halfway through the book, Dante plays second fiddle to the Malthusian theory, which is actually the main crux of the book.
Dan Brown spends a good chunk of the book exploring the population problem in the world as of today. The various characters give different perspectives on dealing with the problem. While it made me better appreciate the enormity of the problem we really have, I didn't quite enjoy Brown's repeated attempts to dance the issue in front of my eyes - the preaches honestly got tiring. Besides, a lot of elements came showing up repeatedly once in a while, almost as if Brown forgot that he had already mentioned them. A pretty good aspect of the book is the introduction into Transhumanism. I can't say that I've ever come across that term and the idea of it frightens and repulses me but it was fascinating to know that something like that exists.
Besides the few new elements, everything else about Inferno is standard Dan Brown fare. It wouldn't be a Dan Brown book if Robert Langdon could get shot in the head and not wake up from it without any repercussions. Plus spend the next 5-6 hours racing across the world and solving a mystery that would in reality take days, or at least more than a day. But this is Robert Langdon, why am I being so hard on the superman?(less)