Dewey’s 24 Hours Read-A-Thon


This will be my master post for the event. All updates across the 24 hour period will be recorded on this entry.

I don’t really have an idea of what books I aim to read for this event because every time I set out to make a list, I rarely stick with it so I will just warn you that I plan to read whatever mood strikes me. And don’t look for me to check in every hour because I’ll probably do it only when I need to come up for air.

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TBR Intervention (4)


TBR Intervention is a weekly challenge hosted by April @ Books4Juliet, Dani @ Refracted Light and Ayanami @ Whatever You Can Still Betray. The goal is to commit to reading at least one book that has been languishing on your TBR pile in an effort to conquer the mountain.

Book(s) I Committed to Read:
On the Banks of Plum Creek (Little House #4) – Laura Ingalls Wilder
By the Shores of Silver Lake (Little House #5) – Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Long Winter (Little House #6) – Laura Ingalls Wilder

And here are some extra books finished from my stacks:
Little Town on the Prairie (Little House #7) – Laura Ingalls Wilder
These Happy Golden Years (Little House #8) – Laura Ingalls Wilder
The First Four Years (Little House #9) – Laura Ingalls Wilder

This is the first post since I joined the TBR Intervention Challenge where I finished everything I set out to read and then some!

THE BOOK(S) I COMMIT TO READ:
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke

I am only selecting one book for the next two weeks interval because I have a stack of books from the library to finish reading that I’ve neglected in favor of this challenge. And Clarke’s novel is a thick volume so I would like to give it the attention that it deserves. My blogging friends rave about it and I want to savor this experience.

So how is everyone doing on knocking off that TBR pile?

Review: Mister B. Gone

TITLE: Mister B. Gone
AUTHOR: Clive Barker
PUBLICATION: 2007 by HarperCollins
FORMAT: Hardcover

BOOK SYNOPSIS

Mister B. was a lowly demon from the Ninth Circle of Hell until he was fished out of the World Below. Hear his words and maybe you’ll give him the relief he begs for, even the great Secret.

 

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT . . .

I’ve had such a fondness for Clive Barker since reading the copy of Weaveworld that I discovered in the stall of used books selling in the middle of the mall during my teenage years. I did check out Mister B. Gone back when it was first released, but due to silly circumstances that put me out of the mood to read it, it was returned unfinished.

This novel is written as a confession of vile deeds done in the name of survival and fun. The reader gets to find out all about the Ninth Circle of the World Below as resembling some kind of ghetto district of the inner city. Barker has given his main character the backstory of a tragic protagonist instead of just going by the assumption that he’s a demon and therefor evil to the core. Although we don’t actually get any in depth account of vile deeds except for patricide. Time and time again the reader is informed of all the horrible things our demon narrator has done and would do at the slightest chance, but nothing is given concrete except vague allusions.

Our narrator seems… complicated. On the one hand while traveling across the land with his companion they seek to punish priests who sin the very vices that are preached against, but only a couple of pages later he is bathing in the blood of infants. Mister B. is a demon after all. Readers might find themselves confused about whether to root for him, or revile him at the brief glimpses. I find him an object of pity if anything.

The story itself is really rather dull. You can see Barker’s skill with words and crafting prose, but overall Mister B. Gone is nothing to get excited over to be honest. Even though it does have interesting lines such as the following:

Everyone loves a measure of fright in their stories; a revulsion that makes the release into love all the sweeter.

Would I recommend it? No, I can’t. The only reason you’d want to read it was if you were bound and determined to read Clive Barker’s entire body of work (which I probably will do at some point). There was some fine writing, but it felt unfulfilled.

TBR Intervention (3) + Library Loot


TBR Intervention is a weekly challenge hosted by April @ Books4Juliet, Dani @ Refracted Light and Ayanami @ Whatever You Can Still Betray. The goal is to commit to reading at least one book that has been languishing on your TBR pile in an effort to conquer the mountain.

From the three books that I posted two weeks ago I am sad to say that I failed to complete all three. However, I did read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. It was finished a couple of days after that post. I started writing a review, but then it felt like I should read it again before trying to put my thoughts into words. Definitely something to be read again at a later date. I’m very happy that a whim purchase put it in my collection. It’s so nice to want to keep a history book in my personal library.

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis was completed in the past two weeks though. I started writing a review, but realized that I can’t articulate my thoughts for that book to my satisfaction. I need to read it again before I express what I think about it. I also finished Ascendant, which wasn’t on my original list of goals but it was in the TBR pile so it counts, right? I can’t believe I let that book sit around neglected for so long. What is wrong with me? I really need to work on reading books as soon as I buy them.

Three books completed… but only one of them planned. Do I still win?

THE BOOK(S) I COMMIT TO READ:


Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Supernatural

This blog is being interrupted from its usual literary endeavors to bring an update on my quest to watch a series that I mentioned awhile back on here. Spoiler warning (although it’s probably not necessary since I must be the last person to watch the show). I’ve been watching season six of Supernatural. Netflix only has up to six so I will have to wait to see season seven. My boyfriend has asked me throughout my quest to view this series on the instant streaming option if I was planning on buying the series. My earlier responses were cautious; I wanted to see more of the show to determine if it was worth it to invest in something that long. Now I reply that I do not wish to own them. I can just watch the show on Netflix if I feel the need for a fix.

If the show was still as good as the first couple of seasons, I would have probably considered buying the show for my own collection because I really liked the beginning. It seems like my liking for it has gone downhill since the storyline started the Apocalypse turn. Although I pretty much adore Castiel. Well, it kind of took an indifferent turn before that but I think I know the reasons.

The writers (or whoever decides the direction of the storyline) would have done better to draw out the events of the first season or so. Personally I think that the search for their father should have extended into season two if not the second season’s finale. It wasn’t really enough of a tease. Even the big Apocalypse lasted only one season… really? (Yu Yu Hakusho and the Dark Tournament saga lasted two seasons.) I think there was a great opportunity to do more with that idea. And it was easier to defeat Lucifer than ol’ Yellow Eyes. Doesn’t that seem a bit skewed? (Although I will credit Death, the pale Horseman, as having the coolest entrance song here.)

As far as character development goes I liked it better when Sam didn’t have his soul as opposed to his behavior involving the demon powers and drinking the blood. And constant apology mode was so annoying. And I’m not quite sure why the one night stand and her kid became such an important part of Dean’s chance for happiness. I would have figured the girl he had the past with in the episode about the phantom truck that was running everyone down on the highway would have been a more suitable candidate on his list of conquests.

I can handle a lot of things but the whole prophet angle with the Supernatural series of books? And the boys being thrown into a Twilight Zone where they are the stars of a television show called Supernatural? Seriously? It’s stuff like this that makes me want to not like you at all. And the fact that no one important truly dies to stay dead (except for perhaps John and Mary Winchester) might have something to do with part of the disenchantment. There’s no fear of being parted from these characters because they always find a way to get around something. And nothing seems all terrible or cosmic as it should be compared to weak human beings. I’m surprised that Death did Dean such a favor. You would think that the idea of mere mortals going up against powerful forces would be right up my alley considering that Yuri’s nickname in Shadow Hearts 2 is Godslayer… but the concept seems to work better for me in the land of RPGs rather than television that really just doesn’t know when to quit.

So in true train wreck fashion, I would still watch season seven. Although I confess that I really want to see that episode with Dean dressed up like a Prohibition era gangster. It’s the clothes. And the hat. I’m having a Cheshire moment of admiring the hat.

I will still get the anime series through their DVD services for comparison purposes. It’ll be nice and short. I’m going to need something short after 126 episodes. Okay, enough rambling. Five episodes left!

Review: Ascendant

TITLE: Ascendant (Killer Unicorns #2)
AUTHOR: Diana Peterfreund
PUBLICATION: 2010 by HarperTeen
FORMAT: Hardcover

BOOK SYNOPSIS

Her best friend’s fading abilities, the financial problems of keeping the Cloisters running, and the strain of a long distance relationship are making Astrid’s life as a unicorn hunter complicated enough. However, the chance to work toward finding out the secret of the Remedy calls to her, a girl that still longed to be a savior and not a killer.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT . . .

I pre-ordered this book so you think I would have read it right away, but no it has languished on my shelves until now. Why do I keep doing this with books? Although I’m glad that I re-read the first book before diving right into this one.

A part of me wrestles with the desire to go on my GoodReads account and lower the rating I gave Rampant because Ascendant proves to be a successful sequel. I was actually pretty surprised that it turned out to be so good. (I don’t think I have entirely recovered from Sphinx’s Queen…) Things happened that I didn’t expect in this book. Let me say it again: Ascendant is better than Rampant! I’m still trying to get over the shock.

I liked Astrid more in this book and I think it’s because she wasn’t spending most of her time wishing to lose her virginity as a way to get out of her life as a unicorn hunter. She was questioning her role and wanted to find a way to be the kind of person she was meant to be, how she could be happy with her talents. And I probably shouldn’t like Brandt, but oddly enough I do. I was wanting Astrid to cheat on Giovanni with him so badly. See? I have problems.

Homosexuality among the hunters is an interesting concept. I was reminded of Gladiatrix where the fighters afraid of pregnancy that would make them ineligible in the arena often turned toward each other for comfort. At any rate I didn’t really see that coming in this type of book either. I hope that doesn’t make me dense? It probably does but I don’t care.

I noticed there was a lot of details paid to the appearance of some of the girls in this book. Every time Cory’s hair could be mentioned it seemed that the reader was reminded of the fact that she had brown curls. It makes me wonder if someone complained about needing to know the color of her hair in the first book. The sudden influx of all these details makes it seem like a first book instead of a second. But thankfully it didn’t continue throughout because honestly that would have been annoying.

Peterfreund’s website states that there is currently no contract for a third book in the Killer Unicorn series. I am conflicted on this point. Part of me wouldn’t mind seeing what happens to Astrid, but another part is worried that after the fear of a plummet in quality that a third book would fulfill such a dread. It doesn’t stand quite so well as a conclusion because you are still left with questions, but a wonderful second book in a trilogy. So I need to suck it up, right? It would be nice to see what comes next in the story, but it didn’t end in such a cliffhanger way that I’m going to be dying to know what happens in the next scene.

If you read the first one and liked it, you have to read this book. I can’t stress this recommendation enough! Come on, readers! It’s killer unicorns, what’s not to love about that?

Review: Rampant

TITLE: Rampant (Killer Unicorns #1)
AUTHOR: Diana Peterfreund
PUBLICATION: 2009 by HarperTeen
FORMAT: Hardcover

BOOK SYNOPSIS

Astrid knows the truth about unicorns, that they’re vicious man-eaters with venom in their alicorns. Luckily they have been extinct for almost two centuries… or so she thought until one of them attacks her boyfriend. Now Astrid is being shipped off to Rome where the virgin unicorn hunters are being trained for this new threat, but no one prepared her for this growing attraction to an art student.

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT . . .

I read this book when it originally came out. I had wanted to use the library in efforts to curb my spending on books, but since no branch had any copies at the time I went to Borders and bought it. I didn’t regret it either. I have since bought the sequel, but felt that I needed a memory refresher before I begin reading Ascendant.

First of all let me gush over the subject. Unicorns. Killer unicorns. This isn’t the first novel to depict them as dangerous creatures to be reckoned with yet it’s the best one from what I’ve had the experience of reading. I have this intense fear of re-reading books because sometimes it ends up being a question of where my good taste ran off to and I wonder why I liked a book in the first place. However, it is with relief that I still enjoy Rampant as much as when I first read it.

Second point: characters. Do I love Astrid? Probably not as much as I should but I do like her. Although I kind of wish that there was more of a feel for the other hunters besides Philippa and Cory. I mean, you get some idea of the other hunters, but they don’t quite feel as substantial to me as the unicorns Bonegrinder or Bucephalus, which seems odd considering that he only makes a few appearances in the whole novel. We get more in depth coverage of Cory and Phil, although Phil’s behavior makes me wonder how fine the line between caution and stupidity is. If I were a hunter with her, I’d probably throw Lilith’s barbs at her too. (It’s unfortunate what happened to her, but do you really behave that way with someone you hardly know?) Yet I must confess that I don’t really like Giovanni. He hardly seems capable of moving the needle on my Fictional Characters Like Radar. I get more of a response from a bloodthirsty kirin. YA novels do not seem to have an abundance of love interests that I like in them, I notice.

Peterfreund leaves some questions open in the novel and I hope to find some of them addressed in Ascendant. I’m left wondering myself if it’s possible for a virgin hunter to have a boyfriend for long. I mean, in a normal relationship the question of celibacy does become an issue as well, but for hunters? Your very ability to hunt depends upon your virtue. The girls discuss their views on virginity and if I remember I think one of them said that she left a boyfriend to come to the Cloisters. Their reasons aren’t all religious, it’s just a choice. And of course I wonder if Astrid ever tracks down Seth and repeatedly stab him with an alicorn.

I’m sure that the crowd of YA addicts will eat this up if they haven’t already. However, the modern fantasy fans may also derive a sense of satisfaction from reading this novel. Or you can be like me and just really dig unicorns.

P.S. For those with a Kindle or compatible app, the short story “Errant” from the Killer Unicorns series is available free here. I do not know if this is going to be a permanent thing, or you will have to pay for it again in the future. The story is also found in the collection Kiss Me Deadly for those who would rather lay their hands on a physical copy.

Finding the Words

The hardest part of writing reviews whether it’s about books, movies, or video games is finding just the right words to measure how you feel about something. So you liked The Avengers? Okay… why? And there’s where you get stuck. I’ve seen the film four times in theaters, but do you see a review on here? No, and I highly doubt that you will because I don’t want to write one. If I did write anything specifically dissecting aspects of that film it would be to defend the appearance of Black Widow and Hawkeye from all the backlash about them being useless additions to the superhero love-fest. I’m looking at you, George Martin.

Back in late April when I joined other bloggers for Dewey’s 24 Hours Read-A-Thon I decided to write my thoughts about the book I was reading so that I could remember specific thoughts or feelings to include in my book review that would be written after the event so that I could have maximum possible time reading books instead of laboring over how to express my thoughts. I liked this notion of writing down live reactions as I read and swore to use it from then on with everything… only to promptly abandon it most of the time.

Have you noticed how much easier it is to say why you dislike something? I was all set to write up a review for an e-book, but I was finding so much to dislike about it that I realized I could be reading something better instead of wasting my time on something that wasn’t. It’s quite amusing that my main problem was with the characters, although when you look at some of the characters that I do like in books or films you would wonder what is wrong with me… unless of course you happen to know me and know my tastes. Because it would all make sense. And then you would wonder why I even tried to read this book in the first place. All I can say in my defense is: if it’s free it’s for me. And I try to read outside my comfort zone since you never know what book will happen to strike your fancy.

So I will finish C.S. Lewis soon and then labor over expressing why I like his book.

TBR Intervention (2) + Library Loot


TBR Intervention is a weekly challenge hosted by April @ Books4Juliet, Dani @ Refracted Light and Ayanami @ Whatever You Can Still Betray. The goal is to commit to reading at least one book that has been languishing on your TBR pile in an effort to conquer the mountain.

Okay the last two weeks have been epic fail on the one book that set out to read for myself. I read the first 40 pages of The Wolf King and just… stopped. I don’t know if I didn’t care or I want to read more and see if it picks up. Maybe other things.

However, I did polish off From Reverence to Rape (review here) and President Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, which has been lying around started-but-not-finished for like seven or eight months. I told myself that it would be a good choice since I had already read about 100 pages into it so far. So I did complete a book from my TBR pile… just not the one that I had aimed to.

THE BOOK(S) I COMMIT TO READ:

I may be setting myself up for fail. There’s no way I can read all of these in the next two weeks, right?


Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!


Two books and a DVD this week. I’m hoping the new film of Hoover is a vast improvement upon that old biopic that I watched back in high school. I’ve actually read The Evil That Men Do a long time ago.

Review: Between Shades of Gray

TITLE: Between Shades of Gray
AUTHOR: Ruta Sepetys
PUBLICATION: 2011 by Philomel Books
FORMAT: Hardcover

BOOK SYNOPSIS

Lina and her family are forced from their home and sent to a labor camp to toil for the Soviets. She draws their life in hell. However, amidst the very worst that people can do, Lina learns of the quiet strength that comes from hope and love…

WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT . . .

I originally became aware of this novel from the NPR article “Two Gray Titles, One Sexy Mix-Up” that I came across during my break at work. Let’s see, erotica versus historical fiction… I wonder what the reader with a bookcase devoted to history is going to pick?! I became encouraged after Kathleen at Diary of a Future Golden Girl said I would like it since I liked The Book Thief.

The book is a young adult novel so I know that some of my blogger friends and followers would definitely like checking it out. The chapters are short, consisting of a few pages each. Most chapters contain a short flashback that detail a brief glimpse into our protagonist’s normal life. While Lina herself is a fictional character, the experiences related in this novel come from those of survivors that the author interviewed while researching for her book. It gives the story that much more weight.

This is the kind of historical fiction that I like to read about. I thought that I would take my time reading this book, but I became captivated and finished the last two hundred pages the next day only because I was too tired the night before to keep my eyes open anymore. This was a very hard book to put down and I do not hesitate in saying that it was definitely one of the best books that I have read this year. Just when I start to believe that anything I read will be average or something I find more wrong with than right to the point that I give up, I have to encounter Between Shades of Gray and endure my heart being ripped out of my chest and handed to me.

I could relate to Lina quite a lot actually. Why? I would never call myself an author or even a writer, but an artist works. It encompasses my passion for words, but also my desire to sketch and create something on the paper. I know that desire to draw. How it’s easier to express yourself with a pencil and paper than any verbal exchange could possibly accomplish…

Seriously why are you people not reading this book? I need others to join me in this emotional trauma!