The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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I had a hard time choosing how well I should rate this book. Especially in regards to stars. Five stars seemed overly ambitious saying something was absolutely perfect seems a little like a lie. But, ultimately I settled for five stars for a few reasons. The first being I really liked this book. I read Linger, Stiefvater’s narrative of the werewolf legend, (which I don’t think I’ve actually reviewed) and wasn’t real taken with it. I love her take on the legend itself. I thought it was interesting and fresh but, I think ultimately Grace annoyed me too much to continue on with the rest of the series. The storyline for The Scorpio Races, however, though not quite what I expected, was solid. The characters, though not always likable, were real, life-like, relatable. This book called to me, just as the ocean calls to the capaill uisce.

I grew up on horse farm until I was 8. I was born on a horse. I could ride by myself before I was five. I held no fear of them. I fed, brushed, and rode them. I sang to them,  whispered into their ears. If I were making this up, I would thrash myself for the great injustice I’m doing you, but I can assure you I’m not.

Now, at 25, all my horses are dead. The farm a distant sweet memory. I forgot how much I loved those horses, simply because I tried. I wanted to forget them because I couldn’t go back to them. But this story, brought them back to me of sorts. I can imagine them, like the capaill uisce, these fairy horses that return themselves from whence they came.

The book focuses on two main characters, written from their particular points of view. Though, in the beginning, I felt that the writing wasn’t quite my style, I pressed on through, fighting the urge to just say this wasn’t my kind of book and tossing it off to begin something different, and managed to steadily get the hang of it. Whether the writing got better, or I grew used to it, I’m not sure.  The distinct voice of each character is very clear, and the flow and description never waned and eventually began to roll like the ocean’s tide. I imagine, actually, the best analogy for reading this book is like riding a horse. Until both you and the horse get the hang of it, the two bodies bonded as one, it’s a little rough, and uncomfortable, but the end result is freedom like you’ve never felt before.

Puck, or Kate, annoyed me at times, almost as much as she annoyed herself, and I was okay with that. Part of her charm was her lack of it. That and her determination, and abiding family loyalty despite the despicableness surrounding her. Although, whether it was me missing it, or something else I was bugged I never found out why people called her Puck.

Sean Kendrick was a character I felt I waited a long time for. His loyalty, even-tempered quietness, and extraordinary bond with the capaill uisce was exactly what I wanted, I just didn’t know it. I knew his feelings. And even as I claim my title as a writer, I feel I just can’t put to words how deep and connected I am to this book. Awakening in me a magic I had nearly forgotten.

This book was brash, exciting, rough, alluring, all too much like the beach and ocean it so faithfully mentions. I admittedly felt like putting the book down in the beginning. It was difficult, I couldn’t quite grasp this world, the characters were mean and grated on my delicate feelings. But, like Puck riding Corr for the first time, it, in the end, made me feel alive. I was nervous to the point of shaking, and angry too. Sad, feverish, and alive, so alive. Any book that can evoke in me a physical response to emotions deserves five stars.

Whether it was the horse lover inside me, the little girl in boots and a t-shirt, and a tangled brown mess of hair hanging around her shoulders, or the deep mysterious legend lover, wide blue-eyed believer in the mystical, this book spoke to me. I felt the sea, tasted the salt on my lips, felt the wind rip my hair, smelled the horse in my nose, and saw the capaill  rise out of the ocean and break free from the waves.

Though this book had a fair few strong words (as in language) it seems to be quite appropriate for any age reader and I highly recommend this Printz winner for a great, exciting read.

Magisterium, The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

I am truly awful! But between my job, my second job, and my third job, and then trying to be a wife I lost my will to blog for a while. But, thankfully I kept reading. So let’s get to the review shall we. Okay!

This book was a little bit younger than I had anticipated, but fairy tales are for every age and I truly LOVED IT! Clare and Black’s Magisterium 5 book series took off Sept. 9. I naturally bought the book that day. I read it the next two then promptly passed it off to my 12-year old brother to read.

You follow the story of Callum Hunt who is a troubled, actually disabled 12-year-old with a dark past and distant father. Callum’s father, Alistair, attempts to keep Call out of the reach of magic which tragically took the life of his mother. But nothing is as it seems. Call must complete The Iron Trial before he can be dismissed from having to go to the Magisterium, a magical school for mage training. And if I keep going, I’ll give away all of the book.

It definitely has a very Harry-Potter-esque feel to it, magical school, war against a dark mage, but it is not a copy cat. It is a new story all it’s own. It’s dark, twisty, and exciting. Things keep going so wrong for Call and you stick with him to see how he can overcome it, if he can. This book takes your usual character stereotypes and archetypes and all of that and promptly tosses them right out of the window. It’s fresh and new and ropes you in. In true Clare fashion, there’s a twist at the end that you never see coming. I promise you, nothing you guess is right. It will blow your mind! I am excited to see where Call is in the next book that hopefully comes out sometime next year! This is a must read for ALL ages! A true classic in the making, I feel!

-Kelly

The Mortal Instruments, Book 6, City of Heavenly Fire

I’m a terrible blogger. I haven’t written a post, or a review in too long! But mostly, it’s because, I’m in a book rut. Yes, it happens to the best of us. We get into a rut where we can’t find a book we just really get into and you just read haphazardly and in smaller and smaller chunks until you realize you haven’t touched a book in days.

 

I can honestly say, this is one of my very favorite book series. Action, wit, sarcasm, monsters, angels, great villains, insurmountable odds, heroes of epic proportions, I mean this series has it all! It’s beautifully written with a flow like butter. The wit and sarcasm is well timed and it’s genuinely thought-provoking.

However, I was slightly disappointed with this last and final book of The Mortal Instruments series. Maybe it was after Clockwork Princess  (Clare’s other prequel series called The Infernal Devices that I have written about before, which is perhaps at the very top of my favorites list, OF ALL TIME) I was just a little disappointed. It wasn’t, in my opinion, Clare’s best writing. Her notable flow seemed slightly off-kilter. To me, the events did not follow each other as well as the previous 5 had. Some scenes seemed slightly forced, which I totally get, as a practicing/ aspiring writer myself I know sometimes trying to portray a character, or a certain feeling, scenes can become muddied especially the closer to the end you get.

I also felt like the addition of the characters for her upcoming series of novels, The Dark Artifices, was just a tad too much. The story could have flowed much smoother without time out to describe and catch up with these characters we’ve just met in the last book they’re not even featured in. Subtle appearances would have done just fine.

Don’t get me wrong! This book still has tons of great stuff in it! Action, violence, secrets, steamy stuff! It’s right on par for the characters!

In the end though I felt a bit robbed of loss, and I know that sounds crazy but, I kept waiting and waiting for someone to bite it, and it just didn’t seem to live up to the classic soul-crushing quality of Cassandra Clare. I really shouldn’t complain on that though, I did mention early on before the release of the book that I couldn’t bear losing one of them, my preciouses! 

Though, I felt slightly disappointed I look forward to what is ahead! Clare is such a prolific and fantastic writer who stays continually busy! And in the end of the story of Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and etc. I felt satified to leave them behind, which honestly is such a terrific feat. Normally I can’t stand to leave them, or I feel robbed of not knowing what they do next, but in the end I felt like I knew exactly where they all ended up, or would end up. And I was satisfied. That is every author’s dream is it not? Satisfied readers? Or maybe it’s hungry readers, though hungry zombie readers sounds more terrifying and the opposite of an author’s dreams, but there are some strange people out there. ;)

I would recommend this book and series to ANYONE over the age of 14! And I almost always do!

-Kelly

 

 

 

This is not a book review. This is me getting real.

I know, I know. This isn’t a book review. I’m sorry. If you were looking for some good advice about a book scroll on down past this, or ignore this. But, I really wish you wouldn’t. I really want you to read it.

Favorite childhood movies of all time: Hook, The Princess Bride, Flubber, Jumaji, Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin… Do you see a pattern (with the exception of The Princess Bride, it’s just really my favorite movie EVER!) ?

People die, celebrities included, (yes, they are human). I always feel a twinge of sadness, even when I don’t even know who they are. I have never met Robin Williams, but the man, let’s be honest, was amazing. He literally made my childhood memorable. I wept when I found out. More accurately, I went through the stages of grief. Denial, etc, etc. I cried for so many reasons. A man, who could make the whole world laugh, wasn’t happy. It just crushed me. It obliterated me.

I know this is the topic of conversation. I know it’s almost silly that everyone is up in arms about it, and talking because he was famous, while there are others out there screaming that he wasn’t the only one that this happened to. That it has happened thousands of times before and will happen many more.(But God I hope not)

But to those, please, do not discount the man. We knew him because he was incredible, and famous. Those that have done the same before him may not have been as widely known, but I can tell you, that they were just as loved, whether you or they knew it or not.

And this that I am about to share with you is me getting real. It is me baring to you my soul, and some of my darkest moments.

Continue reading

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Now, I’m having a harder time searching as I dig through my memory of books I’ve read. I wanted to weigh the good with the bad and make sure I had more good than bad, but it seems I’m beginning to run short on the books I’ve loved. That pile is dwindling, whilst my to read, half-read, and almost finished piles are mocking me.

Forgive me for such a long hiatus on posting. I’ve been ill and in this illness I have begun a most unfortunate, all-consuming habit of watching entire TV show seasons in very few sittings. But, today, I glanced up at my shelf, and saw this old friend sitting up there, completely coated with dust, and the story came rushing back to me.

I read this book when I was in high school, I couldn’t begin to remember which year, but it was later in my career after I had been dragging my feet about reading anything but Harry Potter. This was a daunting task, such a long book, but I had managed to read longer. (aka Harry Potter)

My french teacher who was a terrific, talented and fiery red-head, had chosen to show us the 2002 film, The Count of Monte Cristo. I loved it. It was fantastic, it even had Dumbledore in it! (Richard Harris, the original Dumbledore from the first two films, who unfortunately died before the rest were made. *Side note* Richard Harris was a terrific actor most notable films that I remember him from were Camelot, Gladiator, and the 3 aforementioned films)

After seeing the film I came across my mother’s copy of the book and thought “Why not!”

If you like revenge, treasure, and sword fights, I’d say yes to this one. Edmond Dantes is a sailor who was simply too-trusting, and at the wrong place, at the wrong time. He nobly attempts to save the life of his dying Captain and unwittingly becomes the accomplice to treason. He is ripped from his fiancè and family, and locked away in the deepest, darkest prison where they keep those people they want forgotten.

It is a winding complex tale that shows you how an innocent man vows to take back his life and destroy those who so wrongly imprisoned him. It takes a little patience, intellect, and a good friend with a very special secret.

When I think of this book, I remember the points where it deviated from the movie, which I had seen first. There were LOTS of cuts for time in the film, but I believe the spirit of the story remains the same, if in fact, better in the movie. Edmond’s revenge is so much sweeter and more complete in the movie than in the book, but it is worth it to decide for yourself. Perhaps I have been biased by seeing the movie first.

I would recommend this book to those revenge lovers out there, because sometimes Justice needs to be served to those claiming to dish it out.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This is the review that might get me in a little bit of trouble. I have danced around it for a while and I felt that it was time to just strap in and hold on and just DO IT!

The first book (The Hunger Games)  was fantastic! This book changed me. It really got inside my head and made me pay attention to the world I live in now. I stopped wearing make-up. I began wearing my hair in a braid to keep it off my face. I stopped shopping. I began appreciating all the things I had. This book really made me change my perspective. Katniss is stubborn, strong, willed, and humble. She’s happy enough to stay in the background. She doesn’t want power, she doesn’t crave attention, she merely wants to survive. But, what makes Katniss so great is the evil, the villian behind her. Panem is a great villain. And by Panem, I mean, all of it. The structure, the government, the people that make it up, the Capitol, President Snow, the games, the Gamemaker, all of the moving parts and pieces make a terrific background. They strike fear and frustration. They carefully confine and control by forcing the citizens to give up their children for a death match. Brilliant! (Though not an original idea of Collins’, but we won’t get into that)

The first book ended and I thought, ” This is great! I bet the next one is amazing!” And like every middle book, it was a bridge connecting the end and beginning. Like a middle child, it wasn’t the favorite, it was merely the book to get you to the next one. I instantly bought Mockingjay on my Kindle because it was 3 am and I couldn’t wait, I had to know what happened next.

At 4 am the following morning I had a Bradley Cooper, Silverlinings Playbook moment. ….

If it had not been on my Kindle I would have most definitely thrown the book across my room.

Here is my defense of why I despised Mockingjay.

  1. The last 50 or so pages of the book was a  lot like the last page in every single one of my college papers. I got tired, I didn’t want to explain myself anymore, I just wanted it to be over. For a writer this is possibly a true statement, as a reader you don’t want a story to end, not really.
  2. Katniss gave up. She quit caring, at least that’s how I felt, and as a result I quit caring too.
  3. My, at the time, 8 year old brother could write a better ending.
  4. I refuse to believe that we are doomed to repeat ourselves. I refuse to accept that things cannot change. I may be delusional, or idealistic, or whatever, but we prize history so as not to repeat it. If we forget our history, that is when we are sentenced to repeat it.
  5. Katniss is a static character. AFTER EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED! she doesn’t change. She remains petulant, stubborn, and trapped within the same thinking that we began the story with. I get that she’s tortured by everything that happened. Few people could or would be able to function and be happy after what she has been forced to do and see. She never HAS to make a decision, she just kind of lays down and accepts her fate. She quits fighting. I feel like this in conjunction with the previous reason is why she just kind of lays down at the end.
  6. There was no hope.

I am a romantic. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am a romantic. I romanticize everything. I realize I see things differently than others, but I require hope. I need it to breathe. Without hope there is nothing.

I feel that Suzanne Collins did a great disservice to her readers. Everyone may not feel this way, and that is okay. We have our own tastes, experiences, and opinions. Thank God for that! If we were all the same, we would be boring.

I have occasionally discouraged the reading of these books. When people ask me about them I give them caution. I will not discourage anyone from reading, but I do wish to prepare you as a reader. So proceed with caution and a guarded heart.

-Kelly

Divergent on the BIG SCREEN

I realize this is not wholly a book review, but seeing as it is book related I wanted to share my thoughts.

As you know, I reviewed the Divergent series as a whole not too long ago. I was so devastated by the last book, that I had given up on the series. I saw the trailers and clips from the movie and failed to be excited. After all, the book had tainted me, and the clips and trailers made the movie look so CHEESY. After the pitiful failure of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones to live up to the epicness of the books and my expectations of a book-movie adaptation– {I can talk about that movie later, if desired. It was not a visual, or acting failure, but a writing failure and drive the be original with an UN-original idea [DON’T TRY TO REWRITE A CLARE] } –I was a little, okay, that’s a lie, I was A LOT distrustful of this movie adaptation.

I was SO PLEASANTLY SURPRISED!! If you have, or haven’t read this book, GO SEE THIS MOVIE! I asked my friends who had and hadn’t read it and, overall, it was a pleaser! Friends who hadn’t read the book were suddenly inspired to do so! <<<THIS I THINK IS THE SINGLE GREATEST EFFORT OF A MOVIE! Books will always be better. Nothing can really top your imagination, but we are drawn to see things in physical manifestation. We desire it almost as much as we desire to see it in our heads for ourselves. Books allow us to dive further into psyche and character of well, the characters. Movies give us proper visuals of how things happened, or a least they should.

This movie, in contrast to today’s movie-book adaptations as a whole, deviated very little from the book. Some very small things were omitted for time purposes and to preserve the understanding of the storyline. Movies tend to be a little less complicated in terms of plot so that it is easier to follow. The ending was shifted slightly, though I’m not sure it was the best move, it didn’t exactly ruin the movie. Small changes were made to make it, I suppose slightly more dramatic, or as I like to say, Hollywood-ified. They changed it to make the heroine a little more victorious. Take it as you will. [It didn’t change the plot of the book or the next one *cough cough* Mortal Instruments movie]

Nonetheless, it was all around a very impressive book-movie adaptation. My faith was slightly restored in the movie industry. I loved Divergent, and to see it done well on the Big Screen made me so HAPPY! It will bring in more readers and that to me means success! As much as I disliked Allegiant, I do think Roth deserves to have her series do well. Perhaps it will inspire her to write again, to bring to us something new, and maybe this time she will give readers a book or series that has a proper, fitting, appropriate, well- thought-out ending.

-Kelly

The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This is, perhaps, much different reading material than I have been reviewing. It’s honestly much different than what I normally read. It was after the first movie came out with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law that I became interested in reading this. The idea of a completely inseparable, crime-fighting dynamic duo made me want to know the “real” Sherlock Holmes.

I showed the movie to my grandfather, who is perhaps, one of the most intelligent people I know. It’s hard to find a movie that doesn’t have Clint Eastwood in it that he likes. He loved it! He told me that it was the best Sherlock Holmes interpretation he’s seen. He loved the way that Dr. Watson wasn’t just a bumbling idiot, or a overweight writing assitant, he was elevated to almost Sherlock’s equal, making up for Sherlock’s excentricities in his own mundaneness, but leveling him out and making Sherlock see the more normal sight of us mere mortals. Watson became as much a hero as Sherlock himself.

[This is where I spin off on a tangent of telling you how magnificently brilliant the BBC Sherlock television series is and how if you have yet to watch it you should drop EVERYTHING that you’re doing and watch it! You won’t be sorry at all]

Anyway, I was telling you about how I got interested in reading these stories.

The full collection is round abouts several THOUSAND pages. And I will claim to have yet to finish both volumes, but I can say this.

I have, according to my kindle (because I have this in hard copy and eBook so I can ALWAYS have it with me) finished 30% of the collection. This is less than half I realize, but I can tell you from the multitude of the stories I’ve read I am just simply amazed.

No case is the same.

I can NEVER guess the ending.

The technical aspect of this writing is phenomenal.

I struggled through the language used. I fumbled over the sentences. But I have noticed the improvements of my understanding. I enjoy being challenged by this book. It takes me twice as long to read it as my normal material, but it’s worth it. My understanding and problem solving has improved and I love to see the new things coming to light. I enjoy the mystery. I thrill over the might of Sherlock’s deductive skills, and wish and wish for his corporeal existence. What a man! What a character!

I would say there is really no age group inappropriate for these. It does take skill to read, but it is worth the hard-fought reading, the wait in mystery, and the overall charm, wit, and prowess of Sherlock and Dr. Watson.

A must read, indeed!

-Kelly

I DID IT! I promise I won’t do it again!

So, recently I was checking back over my reviews, and I realized something–a delayed sort of light bulb moment–I have not been properly citing the book titles!

EGAD! I honestly can’t believe it. Afterwards my English-o-mometer was going all crazy.

I have been doing these titles and authors a disservice. My most honest apologies. From here and forward I will try my best to remember my hard-fought English grammar. I will admit I’ve been out of the traditional paper-writing circle for a little while. My last years of college were spent toiling over how to cite particular works of art, (and books are works of art, but Art History focuses more on sculpted, painted, mix-media, well, let’s not open up those worms). They vary, just slightly, although really it isn’t a good excuse, you cite them much the same. I think it was mainly my freedom I now possess, seeing as I’m not turning these in for a grade anymore. School has molded me into expecting grades for everything.

Well, now that it has my attention. I promise I will try and right my wrongs.

That is all.

Have a lovely day!

-Kelly

Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

With March now in the current, and the Divergent Movie just on the horizon, I can now fully review this series.

I have spent a great deal of time thinking of how best to approach this review.

I started reading these books after I was plagued by Book Hangover from The Mortal Instruments. I was struggling to find something to capture my attention, and I wanted desperately to lose myself inside another world.

I LOVED the first book! I instantly adored Tris. She’s a fighter, strong-willed and stubborn, but intelligent. Four was mysterious, rough, and surprising! The factions and the ideas evoked in me the constant nagging dislike for how the world “must be divided” that human nature leans and stays within the confines of these factions. I kept finding myself wanting to verbally shout, “NO ONE IS ONLY ONE THING!” And I think that is just how she wanted it.

The second book, Insurgent, was, I thought, equally good. The characters become bolder, more brazen, and begin finding themselves. They question the system, push the limits, and survive. you begin to see the range of deceit that cloaks the city, and you rally behind the characters search for truth.

Allegiant. I’m not entirely sure what happened. The whole time I read this book I kept thinking that I was reading some elaborate, long, fanfiction, and that the book was still yet to come out. I kept waiting for Roth to be like, “Just kidding, guys! Here’s the real conclusion!”

If anything, it was disappointing. The build of the action to the climax left much to be desired. I trudged through this book. I made myself sit and read it, the entire time wanting to claw out my eyes.

I won’t spoil it for you, but Roth broke a cardinal rule of novel-writing. I’m a firm believer in learning rules to break them, but you’re playing with fire. Chances of success are slim, less than 50% slim. If you pull it off, it can be amazing, incredible, and awe-inspiring. But, it can also blow up in your face.

Catastrophic novel- explosion.

As a reader, I am damaged from this book. And no, not it a horrific way,  and I’m NOT hating on Roth. I am not advocating for her demise, arrest, or anything like that. She is a fantastic writer. And she’s brave. She took a chance, and unfortunately it didn’t play out right. I do feel like the quality of the work suffered. I don’t know why or how, but writing a book isn’t exactly easy. Trust me. I’ve been trying.

With all that said. I did not like this book. If you want to read them, I suggest you stop at number 2 and use your imagination for the ending.

I now have trust issues with books. You know those cookies, that look like chocolate chip cookies, and then you bite down and expect pure perfection in your mouth but instead you get RAISINS!!

= Trust issues.

Thankfully after I finished this series I had the Shatter Me series to help with the rehab.

I can thankfully say I am doing very well. I even started a new book.

So, READERS, BEWARE! This book has tragedy for an ending, and not the good kind (like Romeo and Juliet, and if you think I’m crazy for that, it’s okay. I just enjoy a proper ending, one that feels right, and has a sense of conclusion. You’ll know it when you feel it.)

-Kelly