Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shadow and Bone

I am so glad that I have the next two books in the Grisha trilogy. Shadow and Bone was fantastic. I couldn't put it down. It's been a long time since I read a book so fast. I loved Alina. I appreciated that she didn't start out as a typically/tragically beautiful girl who was unaware of her own beauty. She's skinny, with dark circles under her eyes. In the army, her nickname is Sticks. What Alina needed to do more than anything was accept herself. I like the idea that you have to accept who you are on the inside before you can change on the outside. Alina learns to find the strength in herself before she can move forward with anything, whether with her powers or with love.

I kind of loved the Darkling. As a character, he was brilliant. He's called "the Darkling" so there's already a foreboding feeling before you even meet him. But when he sits by the fire with Alina and when they're together by the lake, you think, maybe... and maybe... I'm interested to see how his character evolves through the next two books.  Plus, the book cover, now that I have read the story, I feel like so much of it is him. The swirling shadows and the bone.

The world that Leigh Bardugo creates is brilliant. It feels very real. Traveling with Alina, the reader gets to see much of Ravka, from the poor villages, to the opulent palace, to the Fold. Bardugo writes about each place with such amazing, engaging detail, it is easy to picture the characters almost getting run over by a carriage, sleeping in the forest or fighting outside a tavern.  I am eager to see where else Bardugo takes us in her world, will we get to visit the other countries, places that sound very different from Ravka? There's a whole world still to explore.

I think they're going to make a movie of Shadow and Bone.  I'm not surprised. As I was reading the novel, imaging all the powers of the Grisha, the palaces, the landscapes and the Unsea, I thought it would make a visually stunning movie.  As long as they cast well and the script is good.... I'm a little weary of all the Young Adult novels making their way to the "big screen".  It seems like there are so many, but only a few really good ones.  Not everything has been a Harry Potter or Hunger Games or even Twilight.  There have been some serious flops, but with all of Shadow and Bone's potential, I hope it isn't one.

I don't know why it took me so long to start the Grisha trilogy - probably because I have so many other series on the go.  I'm glad I did though.  Shadow and Bone was just what I needed.  It was fast-paced, exciting and full of emotion.  I can't wait to read Siege and Storm and future books by Leigh Bardugo.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dreadfully Ever After

Dreadfully Ever After was exactly what I wanted it to be. It was exciting, fun, and full of zombies! It had most of the characters I wanted to see and some that I was surprised with. I loved Kitty. Who expected her to grow the way she did? Without Lydia around, she became her own person. Though I loved Lizzy and Oscar Bennet, Kitty stood out for me. I found Mary more predictable, her journey based on her experiences in Dawn of the Dreadfuls, was what I thought it would be. I was a little sad that there were no real interactions with Jane and Lizzy, though. I keep coming back to Kitty. She really held my attention. She broke out from what people expected her to be, what they wanted her to be. She became her own person. Steve Hockensmith created a Kitty I could love.

Darcy's family was a little crazy. More than a little. Dreadfully Ever After starts out with Mr. Darcy being bit. This is not a spoiler, it's on the back of the book. Mrs. Elizabeth Darcy can't let her beloved husband turn into a dreadful and she can't cut off his head either, so she sets out on a quest to find the rumoured cure. The only way to do this is through Lady Catherine. The same Lady Catherine who tried to kill Lizzy with ninjas in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  Knowing that Lady Catherine prolonged Charlotte's life, Lizzy has no one else to turn to in order to save her husband. Lady Catharine sends Lizzy off to London and away from Darcy, leaving him vulnerable to Anne. I saw what what coming with Anne, from the first time Darcy touched her hand. On the topic of Darcy's family, I wish we had more time with Georgiana Darcy, how would she have reacted to Anne and Lady Catherine's revelation? She seemed to have a great relationship with her brother and his wife and I wish that we could have seen what her journey in Scotland was like. It wouldn't have had to be long. Just a chapter, maybe. 

The Bennets went through some ups and downs looking for the cure. There were dreadfuls, children, dandies and ninjas. I think the man in the box redeemed himself, but I would have liked a closer look; naturally, it was Mary who found him. They struggled to do what they thought was the right thing, with ninjas constantly hovering nearby. I really enjoy Nezu, my favourite ninja.  It's another reason I would have liked to see more Georgina, she spent a lot of time with ninjas too. 

The characters are really what made the story for me. There was growth, doubt, sadness, tragedy and love. I was up late many nights because I had to know what happened next. Lizzy was caught between two worlds. So was Darcy. So was Anne. And Kitty. And Nezu. They all had to make choices. Making those choices was difficult. I enjoyed reading about their struggle and following them on their journeys to the end. Also, the chapter with the king, fantastic!

I suppose that's it for novels in the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies series.  There's really not much left to say in the life of Lizzy (Bennet) Darcy.  If Steve Hockensmith wrote another one, I would definitely read it though.  Maybe there will be one about Kitty or Georgiana.  If not, that's okay too, because those "dreadful" books were wonderful.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mind of My Mind

I can't believe Mind of My Mind ended that way. I saw the situation, the final scene of the end sequence coming; it was only logical. The result of the final scene was the surprise. Especially after reading the first book, Wild Seed, there were certain characters I thought would continue, would have to continue. Honestly, I'm not sure how to process the end. I don't even know how to talk about it without giving it away...and I don't  want to. I want people to read Seed to Harvest / Patternmaster series. I want people to read Octavia E. Butler. The first two Patternmaster books were amazing. Mind of My Mind kept me up late for a lot of nights. I just can't talk about the amazing ending anymore. 

I wanted more Emma. Emma is the name that Anyanwu took at the end of Wild Seed. I thought Wild Seed was amazing and I loved Anyanwu. Though I also thought Mind of My Mind was brilliant, I missed her. I wanted to know more about Emma, her thoughts and feelings in this new world. I wanted to know how much she agreed with Doro, how much she fought him. I wanted to spend time more time with her. Now, I don't know if I'm ever going to find out anything more about her. 

Though I missed Emma, Mary was a great new lead female character. I thought her and Karl were wonderful. I liked that their relationship grew over the course of the novel, that there was hate and love, mistrust and affection. Mary was so complex. She was young, but developed an unexpected wisdom. I enjoyed all of the "First Family". I could easily see how Jesse and Rachel would be pulled towards each other. I really liked Seth and Clay, and wished I could spend more time with them too. The next book is titled Clay's Ark, so maybe I'll see them again soon. 

I appreciated the metaphor (allegory?) of the race of telepaths enslaving the "mutes". To the Patternists, skin colour didn't matter, it was irrelevant. What mattered was their telepathic abilities, their intelligence and maturity. To them, however, if they needed something from a non-telepath, they took it; they used their mental abilities to tweek people, making them compliant and willing helpers. They used them as foster parents, they took over a school, invaded homes. They made it seem nice and they made sure that their mutes were happy, but they weren't free. Is it real happiness if they have no choice.  The breakdown of the girl Page with Ada was what really brought it home. She called Ada and the first family on what they were doing and basically Ada said that they do what they must. It broke Page's heart.

From Wild Seed to Mind of My Mind, the story jumped a large amount of time, probably one hundred years.  So the more I think about it, the more I wonder if Clay and his brother will actually be in Clay's Ark.  Will he turn out to be immortal like Doro?  Will it be about something Clay built?  I was so happy for his and his brother's happiness.  After centuries of manipulation, Doro's people were finally becoming a community.  I want to know more.  I hope to find out what happened to them, even if, like Emma, I don't get to spend a lot of time with them.  I am very much looking forward to the second half of the Patternmaster series.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Top Ten Characters I'd Like To Check In With

I haven't done a Top Ten Tuesday in a really, really, long time. But I saw this week's topic and it really connected with me.  How many times have you read a book and imagined what life was like for the character after the story's end? I know I have. Sometimes I wonder if we'll ever find out.I certainly didn't know there would be a sequel (or two) to Oryx and Crake when I first read it. Margaret Atwood isn't known for writing trilogies, but I'm so glad she created MaddAddam. I didn't think there would be books after Wicked either (and I still have to read them). Sometimes that hope to know what happens to the lives of our favourite characters is fulfilled, but most of the time, nope, we don't get to know.

Here are my top ten characters I'd like to check in with - in no particular order:

1. Offred from The Handmaid's Tale - Never going to happen, because the ending is perfect, but I still wish I knew what happened to her.

2. Roland from The Dark Tower series - I will try not to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the whole series, but I want to know if Roland breaks the cycle.

3. Harry Potter - Harry Potter!

4. Laila from A Thousand Splendid Suns - Did her life turn out okay?  It seemed like it would, but after such a difficult beginning, I'd like to make sure.

5. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird - ... Oh wait....

6. Del from Lives of Girls and Women - I just want to know.

7. Lena from the Delirium series - That ending! Come on!

8. David & Tell Ullman from The Demonologist - That ending! Come on!

9. The Baudelaires from A Series of Unfortunate Events - Who do they become when they grow up?  (Do they grow up?)

10. The Time Traveler from The Time Machine - Where does he end up?

I refrained from including any series that I know has another book out or coming out that I haven't read yet.  As much as I wanted to include Blue Sargent (from The Raven Cycle) or Betsy Taylor (from Undead), I didn't, because there are books to read and maybe once I reach the conclusions of these series I won't be wondering (I know what happens to MaddAddam's Toby and Katniss from The Hunger Games). These are all characters that still capture my imagination. Who do you wonder about you close the book?

Monday, April 06, 2015

Thoughts On My Spin Book

The spin number is 2!!

That means I'll be reading The Waves, by Virginia Woolf.  This one will be a reread for me.  Though it might be like the first time.  I read The Waves the first time about a decade ago in school.  I wrote a whole essay on it.  I got a decent mark too.  Ask me what it's about.  I have no idea.  I can't remember.  There's some people.  Friends.  I think they have dinner together.  Is someone missing.  I'm not even sure.  I don't know why I don't remember.  I could tell you all about Orlando (my favourite Woolf) or Flush, which I read at about the same time.  Oh well, I'll be reading The Waves really soon and I'm eagerly anticipating relearning the story.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey might be my new favourite book by Jane Austen. I loved it. I loved the style of it. There was something cheeky in the narrator's tone that I really connected with. I loved Catharine Morland. I loved her innocence and ignorance. Can we attribute it all to age? To the fact that she was not well traveled? There were times I wanted to yell at Catharine, to ask her why she didn't see what was so obvious to us.

The characters are really what made this story. The story is pretty typical of a Jane Austen novel. There's a young woman, she meets a man. Stuff happens. They get married. There's always a good man, an ideal perhaps, then a bad man, who might be just a bit bad, but who could maybe be awful. There is often a friend/sister. There's a bad girl. There's a conflict between money and love. Nothing happened  in Northanger Abbey that I didn't expect.

What had me riveted, what had me coming back, was Catharine and the rest of the characters. Listening to the characters speak, but then hearing how Catharine interpreted their words and actions was a good kind of frustrating. Isabella was exactly who I that she would be. Her brother was more sneaky than I thought after what he said to the general, but I was not surprised. Henry was every good part of Austen's heroes. Eleanor was perfect.  Catharine Morland was jsut the right heroine for my mood. I loved how everything surprised her, even something simple, like a chest in her room.

Sense and Sensibility used to be my favourite Austen. I might have to reread it since Northanger Abbey has knocked it off its throne. I know Northanger Abbey isn't the most popular of Austen's novel, but I think anyone who has enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Emma, should not hesitate to read Austen's first novel as well.

Friday, April 03, 2015

The Grocery Store

Randomly, I found myself thinking about a family I noticed in the grocery store last week, two parents and their children, shopping for the week’s food.  There was some struggling, one child stuck in the cart, the other wandering off.  They were being good, no crying, no fussing, no bribery that I could see, but in my head I still wondered, why?  I try not to take my children to the grocery store.  If my Hubby is home and I have to go to the grocery store (or most anywhere), I give him and the children, a kiss goodbye, then head out.  Even if they are being perfect little angels, I know that a 30 minute trip to the grocery store will certainly double if I bring them along. They don’t make it longer on purpose, it's just how it is.

It is not as though I never take my children out shopping with me.  In fact, I usually can't go on my own, but usually I take just one.  My Hubby and I often “divide and conquer”, we each take one child and split the errands.  Again, it makes it all quicker.  If I have to take both children, I accept that I will be at the store for hours, that I have to take snacks, drinks, and activities.  I try to make it easy and potentially fun for all of us (mostly them).  I give the kids tasks, a scavenger hunt-esque game, finding what we need and putting it in the cart.  I want to avoid the meltdowns, because I've had enough of those.

I was talking to a friend of mine who said that her husband wanted to make errands like this a “family outing”.  She didn't get it.  She wanted to just go in and get out as quickly as possible.  I told her that I understood his perspective, because that used to be mine.  I tried to make grocery shopping a family activity, like perhaps, that family I saw last week.  I told my friend that I had learned my lesson. There had been too many crying, fighting, annoying, anxiety-creating moments.  I had decided, it would be better for me (or my Hubby, but usually me) to do a quick shop and then have family time after.  I didn't want to spend hours struggling at the store.  I wanted to spend that time doing crafts, playing games, running outside or even watching a movie together.  I wanted our family time to not involve yelling or pleading.  So though I may lose an hour here and there, I think quality time is better than quantity time.  This might just be me and my family though.  I’m sure there are others that have loads of fun at the grocery store… maybe. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

I Need To Spin!

I'm so excited to be particippating in another Classics Club Spin!  It's been too long since I did one. Though I don't always finish the book, I love the chance and the challenge.

I used to create a spin list divided into categories (categories I created based on the types of works I intended to read for the Classics Club).  Last time I participated in a spin (a long time ago), I took note of a few bloggers who decided to make the list random using Random.org.  I like random, so that's what I'm going to do again.

So here's my list:

1. Medea, by Euripides
2. The Waves, by Virginia Woolf
3. Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens
4. The Weapons Shop, by A.E. van Vogt
5. Appointment with Death, by Agatha Christie
6. Daisy Miller, by Henry James
7. Dracula's Guest, by Bram Stoker
8. A Fairwell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
9. Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
10. Lyrical Ballads, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth
11. Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
12. From the Earth to the Moon, by Jules Verne
13. Sherlock Holmes #2: The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle
14. Stories from Hans Christian Andersen
15. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
16. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
17. The Cat In The Hat, by Dr. Seuss
18. Tales of Angria, by Charlotte Brontë
19. Three Series, Complete, by Emily Dickinson
20. Anne of Avonlea, by L.M. Montgomery

You know what I realized while making my list?  I've read enough books that I had to regenerate a lot of my random numbers. That's good, right?  I like the list I've ended up with. There is a bit of everything.  There is some genre, some young adult, a couple short stories, some poetry and even a children's book.  I think it worked out well.

I'm hoping for Agatha Christie though.  As soon as that popped up, I knew I had to read it.  Even if it is not my spin book, I think I'll be reading it soon.  What book are you hoping for?