15 April 2014

Another few YA books

A bit of a roundup!  I get so far behind, especially on these YA type books that I can read relatively quickly.  I have to get back to regular blogging!

I finished Dodger by Terry Pratchett.  I loved the character of Dodger though the plot was just ok.  I liked learning about some of the historical detaiIs of life for the lower classes in Victorian England.  I also really liked the Afterward, describing some of the real lives of people in the story.  If Pratchett writes more adventures of Dodger, I will definitely read them.  a 5.

I also just finished The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.  I wanted to like it more than I did.  I rather thought it was going to be like The Series of Unfortunate Events books from the description.  It wasn't really, except that there are smart kids involved, fighting some wicked adults. It just didn't hold my attention very well.  I bet kids would enjoy it though.  a 5 from me.

Ash by Malinda Lo is a GREAT book! It is a Cinderella retelling, with rather dark Fae folk instead of a fairy godmother.  In addition, Ash isn't very interested in the prince; she has much more of a connection with the King's Huntress.  It feels like a true portrayal of young love that crosses class and other boundaries and I loved it.  a 7. 

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick is another really good one.  It was a Printz Honor book this year.  It is a series of interconnected stories featuring Merle and Eric, two people who connected in various ways.  The first story takes place in the future and as the book goes on it moves backwards in time.  It reminded me a lot of Cloud Atlas, in the best way.  a 7 and very worth a read.

11 April 2014

Stealers of Dreams

The library's ebooks are just killing me!  I seem to get more as fast as I read them!  I read Stealers of Dreams by Steve Lyons, which is another Doctor Who book.  This one has Nine, Rose and Captain Jack landing on a planet where people can't lie, tell stories or make up fiction.  At first it seems like it is just a government crackdown but the Tardis team begins to see people actually go crazy from imbibing fiction.  When Rose has problems, Jack and Nine work to save her.  I liked this one ok but most of the time the trio is separate which is less fun.  overall a 5 from me.

04 April 2014


I listened to Longbourn by Jo Baker by  over the course of a few weeks.  It is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a focus on the household staff.  Sarah is the young housemaid who has to wait on the Bennett girls while trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life.  There's the new footman, James, who maybe likes Sarah and brings a "mysterious past" with him.  I wanted to like it going in but I really ended up not enjoying it.  I felt the main character often made stupid choices and the whole "he pretends to hate her because he's really in love with her" plot is over-used. Also, I always feel like Wickham is bad enough, and the Lydia/Wickham couple are punished enough by their having to be married to each other, that I always feel retellings that make him worse are just piling on.  Wickham can be a bad guy without also being a child molester!  I kept listening (the reader is really very good) but ultimately this one fell flat to me.  a 3.

02 April 2014

Gone on a bit of a binge

As I have been taking big, important tests these last 6 weeks, I've had very little time for reading.  I've just been studying, doing school work for the one class, doing my practicum hours, and trying to spend what little time I have left with B or occasionally exercising.  I finished up my last test on Friday (I won't know how I did for a few weeks) and this week is spring break!  Well, it is spring break for the school system in which i am doing my practicum, which means I don't have to go to it this week.  Anyway, before Saturday I was only reading very occasionally: 10 minutes before dozing off at night, 30 minutes while on the exercise bike, those kinds of things.  So it was a bit of a joy that i was able to gorge myself on words this weekend!  I read:

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane: the first in a series of books about a teenage Sherlock Holmes, authorized by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  It isn't a bad book; it sets up many of the things that fans of the original stories will recognize.  It also seems to suffer a bit from being the first in a series; the author seems to be playing a bit of a long game as many of the characters and events are not fully explained.  I assume that these are going to be subplots that become important later on.  I still haven't decided if I will read any more but I might give the Young James Bond series a try.  a 4. 

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal:  This is one of the Printz honor books this year.  I had managed maybe 50 pages prior to this past weekend.  I had thought it was a fantasy book but really it's historical fiction focused on females.  It takes place in medieval Scandinavia and revolves around the royal household.  The children all suffer from some sort of illness, as do the king and queen.  The story is mainly told from 3 different perspectives: the queen, a black slave named Midi who's had her tongue cut out but can write, and a seamstress turned maid Ava.  Their lives intertwine in strange ways.  Not a book for young kids.  There's the implication of sex with a 12 year old (she's a princess who's been married off), death, syphillis, miscarriages, sex and rape. It is weird.  So weird that for the longest I couldn't decide if I liked it or not or where it was even going.  It felt a little long to be honest.  But, it's also about fairy tales and stories and about stories creating reality, so it moves over to barely a 6 for me. 

Besides these books, I also read a few magazines and parts of Dodger by Terry Pratchett and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.  Yeah, still YA heavy but I start at an elementary school next week. So then I'll be working on younger kid books!  

31 March 2014

March Movies

The Impossible: This is a couple years old, about a real-life family which survived the tsunami in Thailand.  If it wasn't a true story i would have said it was too good to be true.  Not a bad movie, some super scary parts involving the tsunami. a 5

Rush: Thor races cars!  He's lovely and the car action was great.  a 6.

Machete Kills: ok, goofy, splattery action.  worth watching. a 6.

True Detective: The best thing I've seen on TV this year.  seriously.  If you've not seen it and not been spoiled, go right now and watch it.  The basics: the show opens with 2 detectives in 2012 each separately speak about a murder case they worked back in 1995.  We see them discussing the case and then working the case.  So you have 2 narrators for the same set of events.  Both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrellson are wonderful in this.  it is a twisty, twisted show, set in Southern Louisiana, much of which was familiar to me.  absolutely a 7.

Helix: We've been binging this SyFy show in 3-4 episode gulps.  An unknown outbreak happens in an arctic research facility and the CDC sends four scientists out to the middle of nowhere to fix it.  The only surviving victim happens to be the brother of the lead scientist, who slept with the lead scientist's ex-wife, who also happens to be on the team.  The random connections don't stop there!  The virus turns people zombie-like; the man who runs the facility, along with every other speaking character, has secrets, and the non-CDC research scientists are ridiculous.  Parts of this show are amazing; the cinematography is very good and the use of music is great!  However, parts are just so ridiculous.  One thing we found super annoying was that every time the CDC characters caught the facility runner in a lie, they'd just believe him for a while!  These were the least skeptical scientists ever.  overall, I'd say it was a 5 as we didn't give up on the series. 

25 March 2014

Quick note to let the world know I am still alive

Hello all!  

Still here!  Tests, or studying for them, have been kicking my butt.  Between student teaching at the middle school, studying, and taking tests I feel constantly stressed out and tired.  Good news: I passed the first test I took back in February and my last test is this Friday.  It is the big one, comps which I have to pass to get my degree.  I'll be cramming as much as possible into my brain these next two days.  Wish me luck!

06 March 2014

More YA/Middle Grade Books!

Doll Bones by Holly Black: This book was one of the Newbery Honor books this year. Three children, a boy and two girls, have been playing together their whole lives, making up long, involved stories about their various action figures.  They have a whole mythology and lineages worked out. now that the boy is twelve, his father decides to throw away all his action figures to make him "grow up".  The boy can't bring himself to tell his friends what really happened.  At the same time, one of the girls says her doll is beginning to speak to her, telling the girl that the doll is made from a real girl's bones and that for the spirit to rest she must be buried.  The children set off on an adventure to bury the doll.  They get vital info from a library!  i give this a 5. 

Graceling by Kristin Cashore: This one was an audiobook.   It was weird.  Again, it had the YA problem where stuff happens at the beginning, there's a long middle where not much plot-wise happens though there is some character development, and then a bunch of action at the end.  It is a fantasy novel where the world is made of several kingdoms.  In these kingdoms, someone who has two different colored eyes has special powers: fighting, swimming, dancing, knowing the weather, etc.  These are called gracelings.  There is a kidnapping and intrigue but mainly the story is about the main character growing up.  This wasn't a favorite of mine as we spend a lot of time hearing the thoughts of Katsa, the main female character, and I found her really annoying.  Also it was a full cast audio which i found rather distracting.  a 4. 

05 March 2014

unexpected reading day

Monday was a snow day, or an ice day anyway, so school was canceled.  I took the opportunity to sleep a bit late, study a bunch for my upcoming tests, exercise a little, and finally finish a biography. Beethoven: The Man Revealed by John Suchet is about Beethoven, of course.  I thought it was very good.  I've read some other Beethoven biographies as I find him really fascinating.  This one wasn't too long, nor was it filled with musical intricacies that I do not understand as I've never taken music or played an instrument.  The author does talk about the music and about how it sounds but in more layman's terms.  It also had the advantage of being the first Beethoven book I've read while having access to all of the music referenced (Thanks, Spotify!) so I was able to hear a piece just after reading about the events that occurred in the composer's life as he wrote it.  It was cool to be able to listen for the things that Suchet mentions in each work.  I would say that if you're interested in Beethoven but have been turned off by the length or musical knowledge assumed in other bios this book is worth a read.  I give it a 6.