Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Graveyard Book

I just finished this book the other day whilest travelling. I thoroughly enjoyed the story in more ways than one. I found the novel transported my mind to a place full of imagination. The actual reading part didn't take that long as I was very curious to see what would happen next therefore the novel was close at all times - ready to soak in a few minutes here and there when I could. I would gladly recommend this, but to be honest unless your child is a good reader I might suggest waiting until he or she is older - the novel can be confusing at times and therefore requires your full attention.


Friday, July 24, 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I found this novel very confusing initially since so many characters were introduced and names and places were unfamiliar to me, being Swedish. I"m sure those of you who also read this book found the story line moved at a very slow pace. The novel is long and the real plot doesn't actually start for quite some time. Even so, the book intriqued me right from the beginning. I liked the writing style and I just wanted to keep right on treking through. In the end I found the story enjoyable and thrilling to finish, but had I known from the beginning that there were gruesome acts of violence and murder detailed I probably would have chosen not to read it. I guess that show that sometimes you can enjoy a book that really isn't your cup of tea regularly. I will probably search and find the second book and continue to finish the series off.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Grapes of Wrath

I first read The Grapes of Wrath in AP English during my senior year of high school. I was immediately drawn to the book because of the similarity in stories I'd heard from my grandmother about the coal companies coming into West Virginia and other states in the sounth and taking the land away from families who'd lived on it for years. Many of these families either became workers in the dangerous mines or moved to Ohio, Michigan, and other areas to find work. Many who did move were forced into work in unsafe factories and live destitute lives. I highly recommend Denise Giardina's Storming Heaven for a beautifully written and powerful story of the impact of coal mines on one community in West Virginia OR Harriet Arnow's The Dollmaker, an equally powerful book, for a look at the lives of one family who was uprooted from their KY home (not because of a coal company) and struggled to survive in Detroit during post-WWII.

Something about family survival and courage through hardship is a compelling subject to me, and no book has been more compelling than The Grapes of Wrath, a book that I've read multiple times since AP English class so many years ago. The Joads are not your typical perfect family, but they love each other in their own ways, and each time I read it, my heart breaks knowing what is going to happen to them and knowing that their lives are going to be filled with false hopes, pain, and sadness.

I remember the first time I read the book when I was 17, the ending with Rose-of-Sharon nursing the dying man made me a bit uncomfortable, and I've heard that it was quite controversial when published in the 30's.

Steinbeck is one of my favorite American authors, and his eloquent, beautiful, and heart-wrenching writing makes this one of my favorite books of all time. Many assert that this is his masterpiece, and I tend to agree.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My thoughts on the Bones of Faerie

I liked the novel. I liked being thrown into it. Yes, I could see how it might be confusing. And yes, the same thing can annoy me in other fantasy novels at times. (Sometimes I'm patient enough to go with the flow. Other times I give up.) When the book relies on world-building it can be tricky. But for some reason, I didn't mind in this case. True, not all questions were answered. And a bit more back story could have helped things along. But I like to piece some things together myself. And having the author explain each and every thing all at once, all at the beginning, wouldn't make for great storytelling either. I thought not-knowing added to the mystery of it.

With fantasy--especially in series and I don't know if this will be a series or not--but if an author is all action, little explanation we as readers complain because there are unanswered questions and it can be confusing. But if we get a book that is all explanation--all set up--and little action, then we complain that nothing happens and that there is no plot. I've read dozens (and dozens) of first-books-in-the-series where we spend 200 out of 300 pages just waiting for the action to start. And they're not all that fun to read. You hope that the second book improves and the action can finally start rolling along.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rules. Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians, The Lightning Thief, etc. Books where you're drawn in immediately and stay hooked. But most fantasy is somewhere between the two extremes of too much and too little.

I'm curious if a reread would make a difference? I read this one in April--late April. And so my memory is a bit fuzzy now. Some books are great the first time through when you're caught up in the 'and then what happens' of it and then the second reading, you begin to pick out all the little 'flaws' and 'quirks' that didn't quite work for you. I've had it work the opposite way too. Where a second reading un-confused me and left me loving it.

It could be a mood thing as well. For me, the timing of this one was perfect. I'd just finished a really sludge-worthy book that had kept me bogged down and frustrated. I was looking for a quick read. An entertaining read. Something short and satisfying. For me, this book did that well. It got me out of the funk I was in. I loved the opening chapter. And it held my interest from that point on.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bones of Faerie

I first heard of this book during the Read-A-Thon. I can't remember who read it, but I remember that they liked it. I then happened to stumble upon this book group and y'all were reading it. So I jumped in.

Well, I hate to say it, because I hate it when books disappoint me, but this book just didn't do it for me. I didn't hate it with a passion, because I did finish it. But, I had some real problems with it.

In the wake of fantasy YA and middle grade books like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Fablehaven (among so many others) books in this genre really have to step up their game. They need to have everything that makes an adult novel great. They can't just be "simplistic" because they are for younger people. And, essentially, that's how this book came off for me. Nothing seemed developed enough, not the language, the backstory, the plot, the characters, or the relationships.

I spent most of the book in a state of confusion. (Michelle seemed to share some my general confusion.) Why was there a war between Faerie and our world? When was this war? Are there still faeries? What's the deal with the mother? What's the deal with the abusive father? What really happened with Cam? How do people get powers--is it from birth or not? Why is Matthew randomly a werewolf? (I didn't realize werewolves were faeries. So, are there vampires too?) What is the scope of the Faerie world and our world? Why are the plants so mean? Who are these people in the other town? (I can't keep them straight or how they relate to each other.) Why does one of them stare so much? Why does Liza have such a strong power? Why doesn't the author develop any backstory when she plops us into the middle of the story? What the hell is going on in general?

These questions were answered in the book, but the answers just weren't satisfactory, for me.

Urgh. So you see my frustration. It started off as such a great idea too. The first chapter really had me wondering. But it just didn't develop into a full-bodied story.

Did I just really miss something here? Am I expecting too much from my YA and setting myself up for disapointment?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Thoughts on Bones of Faerie

I enjoyed reading Bones of Faerie. It was a book that once you picked it up, you couldn't put it down. The friendship between Matthew and Liza was interesting and entertaining. The imagery of the plants and tree attacking was great to read.

That said, this book had a lot of problems. Readers never find out what the war between faerie and humans were about. We know they didn't get along but had it always been that way? For a book that is set in the aftermath of such a horrible war, that could have been done much better.

The writing was good but readers were not able to get attached to most of the characters. I also wanted to know more background information on the other characters such as Matthew's grandmother. Though the idea for this story was great, I just wanted more.

Am I the only one who thinks there will be a second book?

The Bones of faerie

No one has posted yet, so I thought I would go ahead. I finished this book weeks ago, so have forgotten quite alot already with regards to small details. I found the story very confusing, especially in the beginning. I had to reread some parts a few times. At the same time I was intrigued to want to know more - and so therefore kept reading. I had wished the story didn't end, as I was eager to know what was next for the many characters I had gotten to know.

As an adult I enjoyed the book well enough, but I don't know how many young teens would. I actually gave the book to a 13 yr old girl who reads constantly. She started the novel, never finished it and then returned it to me within a week.

I'm curious to know what you thought.