Monday, July 8, 2013

Spring/Summer Reading

The Elite (The Selection, #2)The Elite by Kiera Cass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you know my book reviews you know I never like book 2 as much as book 1 in a series.  This is no exception.  I loved book 1, The Selection, but The Elite just wasn't as great.  Not only that I didn't like the cover.  Book 1 cover was pretty, book 2 cover annoyed me.  I didn't like seeing a face on the model, I didn't like her hair, or the cgi, etc etc.
On to the plot: I didn't like the characters in this book as much as the last even though they were the same characters.  Their action aggravated me beyond belief, but I guess that is the problem with Teen Fiction, the characters act like stupid teens. After reading book one I didn't know what boy I was rooting for but in the beginning of book two I definitely picked a side.  Yes, this is another love triangle teen novel.  And keeping with last book, I find the author's future intriguing.  After World War III, we become United States of China, since they invade to collect on our debts, which we can't pay.  Then after the Fourth World War, a man takes over renames the US, and makes it a monarchy.  Which is how our main character makes her story, in a Bachelor type competition to become the next princess. Even though I didn't like this book as much, I still will wait in anticipation until next spring when book 3 comes out.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this because my husband is a huge fan and kept asking me to read it.  I enjoyed most of the book, but I did not LOVE it, like so many fans. I don't love sci fi, so Orson Scott Card is not my favorite author, but I do think he is a very skilled author. I appreciated reading an author that shows discipline in their writing. I feel like most current authors are lacking the self control needed to allow the reader to use their imagination. Card does not have that problem. It makes for an enjoyable read.
I found the political discussions interesting because I love a good political discussion, I found the military tactics painfully boring, but appreciated the genius child descriptions, since I have a genius child. Even though the military tactic sections bore me, I did read the first 2/3 with great interest, because of my oldest child who is a genius.  The part where they felt adults were the enemy because they underestimated them really clicked with me.  How often to I underestimate my child?  I also wondered does he think I'm keeping secrets from him when I don't answer his questions.  Actually I don't know the answers of the questions he asks me, life is rough when at 7 you are smarter than 2/3 of the adults, if not more. I very useful book for parents of Gifted children to read. 

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Normally I don't like book 2s, but this is the exception. I LOVED this book! Who would have thought? I didn't hear the best of reviews about this book, so I wasn't expecting much, I did read that the author does not plan her novels. I heard nothing happened. When I read it I thought, whatever something is always happening, the plot moved along beautifully I thought. The romance definitely drew me. But what I really enjoyed about this book it was classically dystopian plot with a teen fiction spin. Complete with 'the man' trying to break the man character because 'the man' believed the main character was the key to breaking the resistance. I loved that part for the sole reason of the author keeping a solid archetype of the genre.  I always thought I didn't like dystopian because I hate 1984 and couldn't understand Ayn Rand in high school. While I read Insurgent I remembered all the dystopian I had read and enjoying. (Since revisiting Ayn Rand post college, I can appreciate and comprehend her writing, something I couldn't do as a weak reader in high school.) Anyway, if you are looking for a fun dystopian book, read this series, fight your way through the first 40 boring pages of book 1, and love book 2. It might be the only book 2, I've ever loved.

By the way we listened to book 1 and 2 of Harry Potter with our seven year old on our car trip, and watched movie 1.  I forgot how much I love reading Harry Potter.  I knew I loved him, but I forgot just how deep my love goes.  It is so fun to experience it with a newbie. I will feebly admit, I am a Harry Potter success story, the Harry Potter series was the first books I read for pleasure. 

The Spiderwick Chronicles Box Set (The Spiderwick Chronicles, #1-5)The Spiderwick Chronicles Box Set by Holly Black
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I listened to this on tape with my 7 year old.  It was very fun to listen to this with him.  He like many inexperienced readers is afraid to pick up books out of his comfort zone. This was his first exposure to fantasy chapter books. I knew he would like fantasy if I could just get him to pick up the right book. Now I need to get a papercopy for him to reread. I picked this up on a whim and I'm glad I did, because even my four year old enjoyed listening to this series.

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette (The Penderwicks, #3)The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book three, and I honestly can't remember the other two books. I do remember the characters, Birdsall does an excellent job of developing her characters. Since it is a children's book, I found the book slow in the beginning, but it was age appropriate. I honestly was wishing I was reading something else that was on hold at the library, but I continued because the characters were well developed, and enjoyable to read about. It was worth the perseverance, I loved this book by the end. It made me cry. I cried for Rosalind, but it was probably from pent up emotion from the previous chapters before Rosalind got back from New Jersey. Hooray for Jeffery.
One day when my four year old daughter is old enough to read chapter books, she will be sorely disappointed that she does not have three sisters, and instead two brothers. I know this since she already asks me how families get lots of sisters. The positive thing is there are books about families with lots of sisters. She will love the Penderwicks.

During this time for book group I picked and reread, Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1)Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book.  I thought it was Jane Austen mixed with Harry Potter.  How can you go wrong with that mix?!  The romance/society/dating of Austen and mixed with magic.  It was fun, and I would totally recommend it to people who like both JK Rowling and Jane Austen.  It was a little predictable when it came to the romance, but isn't that the way we like Austen's time period.  But I also found two story tellers slightly confusing, the book is a series of letters back and forth between cousins. Plus I thought the cover was fun. But just for the record, book group didn't enjoy it as much as me.  They thought the cover was ugly, they didn't like the plot being based off of letters, and struggled keeping the characters straight.  

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 The Far West (Frontier Magic, #3)The Far West by Patricia C. Wrede
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I enjoyed Eff, Lan, and William, I enjoyed them as adult characters. The pace of this book was much better than book #2. I'm sad the series is over, although I'm glad the author finished it before I got bored with the series. I enjoyed Wash and Professor Ochiba. I enjoyed the alternate reality of the American wild west with magic. It was also fun to read about a magic society were everyone can possess magic as long as they study.

 Across the Great Barrier (Frontier Magic, #2)Across the Great Barrier by Patricia C. Wrede
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as book 1. But when have I ever liked book 2 as much as 1. I'm very interested to read book 3. It didn't seem to have as much plot as book 1, a lot of wandering around the Frontier, and what seemed like not a lot happening. But like I said I still enjoyed it.

 Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A friend picked this for book group. I was a little wary of yet another Teen Fiction Dystopian lit series, but my friends assured me there was no love triangle in this one. I almost quit this book multiple times in the first 40 pages. It took me 2 days to get through the first 40 pages. I could not stand the main character's voice. At page 40, I decided I would give it 10 more pages. By page 60, I was hooked. As the book progressed the character's voice changed thankfully. Which is all part of the plot. I was slightly surprised at how much of a romance this story was, but in truth that is what pulled me. A lot of the plot was seemed like petty teenage angst, but oh when would they hook up? In the last 80 pages it finally turned into a Dystopian revolution, and once again I was surprised at how much it hooked me in. The last 80 pages was much more classic Dystopian than most teen fic that is currently popular. I found it surprisingly enjoyable. By the time I finished I wondered if my husband had the patience to put up with the first 300 pages, because if the series follows the current trajectory, it could get very interesting in a dystopian genre way.
Lastly, for some reason when Four cuts his hair I found it very touching, which is such a minor plot detail.
Also this book is fairly pg-13, if anyone cares.

The Selection (The Selection, #1)The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book. Dystopian lit version of the Bachelor. Just for the record I don't actually like the Bachelor. I was disappointed when I figured out this was only book 1. Why does everything have to be series? Hopefully its true to its name and actually a trilogy. I couldn't read this book fast enough, normally I clearly pick sides in a love triangle, but this book I'm not team anyone. What will the next book hold?!!
I really fell in love with the book, and wanted to keep reading after it was finished.

 Thirteenth Child (Frontier Magic, #1)Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Its fantasy historical fiction. Ok, so its not historical at all because they live in a magical world where everyone can learn magic if they apply themselves and dragons fly around west of the Mississippi. I've realized I like magical fantasy as long as the rest of their world is pretty normal and preferably on Earth in a time period I enjoy reading about even when its not magical.
Eff is the main character and she thinks she is unlucky being the thirteenth child. Anyway, I enjoyed the book, I'm excited to read book 2. I like books that take place on the frontier.

 Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (Fudge #2)Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me a page or two get into this book, since it was in Sheila's voice instead of Peter's. I personally think Peter is a better storyteller. I didn't like this book as much as the books about Peter, but it is a good book for kids to realize its ok to be scared of things. I'm interested to see if my son likes this book where its a girl's perspective. He did want it from the library so we'll see.

 What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles SolvedWhat Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved by John Mullan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book. It made me want to quit all of life and reread the complete works of Jane Austen again. Its a book comprising of 20 essays all by John Mullan about Jane Austen's works. There was about four of the essays that bore me, but other than that I loved the other 16. I found them so fascinating. Two of which were the last two essays, I'm not sure if I was just exhausted or if his arguments loose steam near the end. I really wish I would have made notes so I could remember what other essays I found dull.
It makes you wonder who is your favorite herione?
Elizabeth Bennet?
Anne Elliot?
Fanny Price?
Emma? Its not Emma, but it make me wonder if it is. Its also not Fanny Price, but I like Fanny more than the next reader.

 Superfudge (Fudge, #3)Superfudge by Judy Blume
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I reread this book after Reading Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing. I remembered I liked Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing better than Superfudge. But it was still fun.
I haven't given this book to my 1st grader yet because there is chapter that strongly suggests Santa Clause is pretend. My seven year old still is very much in awe of Santa glory, I'm not ready for that to end. I own an older copy, I got for 50 cents. I'm debated removing that chapter. Is that wrong of me? Maybe if he was nine. I was a cynical second grader but why make him one?

 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Fudge, #1)Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. I reread before I gave it to my seven year old to read. He read loved it too. Even though he is is first grade not fourth, I thought he could relate to having a younger sibling that is crazy and demands a lot of attention. I found myself hoping he wouldn't relate to Peter feeling neglected by his mother's attention, but alas he probably did. :(

 Viva Jacquelina! Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Over the Hills and Far Away (Bloody Jack, #10)Viva Jacquelina! Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Over the Hills and Far Away by L.A. Meyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although I love Jacky I'm losing interested in this series. I'm ready for Jacky and Jaimy to get married, 10 star crossed lover books is PLENTY. I'm sure LA Meyer could continue once they got hitched, its hardly like Jacky is going to stop being crazy just she has a husband. With these opinions I was slightly annoyed during the first third of the book, but then as I read about Jaimy's adventures, I realized ok, so Jacky's adventure are feeling over donE, but yes Jaimy really needed this last adventure before he was ready for Jacky. I enjoyed Jacky's story after she got out of Madrid, and so I was a little sad when the book was over, but over all this book just doesn't have the same pizzazz as some of the earlier books.

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That brings us back to March which was the last time I posted one of these.

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