Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review of The Reader by Traci Chee (and a little chat)

Please hang with me on this one, it is a long review but for good reason!
 
Read for: TBR Book
 
Synopsis: "Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.

Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.

Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning."


My Review: So I purchased this book back when everyone was getting so hyped up for it's release, but then I really didn't seen too many reviews and the ones I did see were not all that positive so I put this on the backburner. I finally was drawn in again by the beautiful cover and picked it up. I am so glad I did too, this turned out to be right up my alley. So much thought and detail went into not only the story but the actual production of this book. First let me talk about the book itself, the cover has so many details and subtle hints as to the story, then it has deckled edges, then on the inside it has a variety of formats, with images and handwriting, etc., a beautiful map detailing the world and finally there is a hidden message too! Now into the story itself, I went in a little blind know that it was set in the equivalent of a eastern culture type world but without any written language or reading, but the main character has something we know is a book (but she doesn't know what it is), oh and there is some kind of magic too. It takes a bit to get into the story, and I don't suggest listening to the audio book unless you are following along in the book at first. There is a lot of world building, but it is very nicely done, woven into the story and some discovered as the characters discover it. What I was not expecting was that this book would have so many pirates! I was really surprised to find that not only is this a fantasy book about books but also a pirate story. There are so many elements in this book that are so carefully woven together, parts of 'the book' are even integrated into the story. It is all so beautifully orchestrated. The characters are also fantastic, they are well rounded, diverse, realistic and easily to connect with and care for throughout the story. Archer is by far my favorite character, so unique and powerful and he develops so much along side Sefia. Now Sefia is also a great character, she doesn't always make the best decisions but she learns quickly and develops well throughout the story, I look forward to seeing where things take her and what she does. They are the two main characters but there as so many other wonderful supporting and side characters, all of who add something to the story. With all of this said, I would not suggest this book for everyone. It is definitely in the realm of high fantasy and all the world building and complexities of the storylines may leave some readers unhappy or bored, but if you are a fan of high fantasy don't hesitate to pick this one up, it is so unique and I can't wait to see where the rest of this series leads!
 
My Rating: It took a bit to get into this book because there is a lot of world building (and I tried an audio book first- just don't do that, this is one that needs to be read), but it was so worth it to stick with the book. I really think that this book is a little misunderstood, the synopsis doesn't do a great job and people go in thinking this is going to be a fun fantasy book.  Don't get me wrong, it is a fun fantasy book but it is high fantasy which requires a lot of development. It isn't super straight forward, there will be times where something will seem pointless or confusing but if you just keep moving forward it will come back around and make total sense (there are even some elements I am not sure of but I am certain there was a purpose in future books because all the elements are so carefully thought out so far). This book was definitely a Four Paw book for me!
 
 
 
A Little Chat: I really am kind of wondering what happened with this book, there was so much hype for it at the beginning, even it's own publisher made book tag going around on Youtube, but now after being published almost 9 months ago there are less than 1,000 reviews and only about 3,000 ratings. (I went back to check other debut/ first book in series that were published in the same month - Three Dark Crowns has nearly 4,000 reviews & 17,000 ratings). Is it because this synopsis doesn't really give a proper view, or was it because of some eh reviews right at the beginning?  This is a plot driven (but still with great characters) high fantasy novel, I think when people hear YA high fantasy they think Sarah J. Maas & Throne of Glass, which while it does still fit in the high fantasy realm is really a straight forward wham bang thank you  ma'am type fantasy.  I wonder if we have traveled so far away from sweeping, epic high fantasy that it isn't appreciated so much when you have to really take your time with a book to allow it to develop and settle.  Anyway, just my two cents and I will stop now because this is probably my longest single book review to date!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Reading List




Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!




Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

Riders by Veronica Rossi
Martha the Blue Sheep by Gabrielle Yetter
Watersmeet by Ellen Jensen Abbott (Series Review)
The Centaur's Daughter by Ellen Jensen Abbott (Series Review)
The Keeper by Ellen Jensen Abbott (Series Review)
The Garden that We Grew by Joan Holub (Early Reader)
One Cent, Two Cent, Old Cent, New Cent by Bonnie Worth (Bedtime Story)
Huck Book 1: All American by Mark Millar (Graphic Novel)


 
 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

In Safe Hands
Martha the Blue Sheep
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Over the Garden Wall
Thirsty Day in the Crater
On His Watch
After the End
Little Owl's Day
Little Owl's Night

 
Currently Reading:
 
Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong - Print- on page 46 of 358
A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman - Audio - 38%
Book of Bera by Suzie Wilde - Kindle - on page 126 of 321





 Books to be Read Soon:


 

Pages Read/ Time Listened
103:01 Hours Listened (none listened this week)
25,509 Pages Read (1,570 this week)

Books Added to Shelves This Month
Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by JK Rowling
Samurai Rising by Pamela Turner
Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Saga Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughan
Over the Garden Wall by Jim Campbell, et. al.
The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
On His Watch by Katie Ruggle
In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle
After the End by Katie Ruggle
Seduced by the Billionaire by Carly Carson
The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert


Books Read From My Shelves
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince



Interesting Tidbits on the Web:


 

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I ended up getting a little sucked into a series this last week, I purchased and read all of the Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue books by Katie Ruggle.  For some reason as the weather warms up, I move away from fantasy and read more romance and this series certainly fit that bill!  I also FINALLY finished the 6th Harry Potter book, just one more to go!! I think I may take a little break from it and try to pick it up again in late June or July.

This week my folks have come for a visit and while we have a lot planned, I do hope to read at least a few books (and I may be able to squeeze in a little trip to the book store), thankfully my mom is also a reader so I think I can manage.  I do have posts lined up for the week so I can catch you up on a bunch of the books I have been reading over the past couple of months. 

I hope you have a great week!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Crafty Times: Handmade Cards

Crafty Times is a new thing I am trying on the blog where I can share some of the art and crafts I have created (you can too of course). I really dabble in a wide variety of crafts and hope you can find something that sparks your interest or inspires you!
 
 
It has been a while since I posted any crafts, that is because I haven't had much time to create anything.  I have instead been organizing and purging my craft supplies. It has come to my attention that they have been taking over our basement, so I have started to try to contain the beast.  Clearly I am not a seamstress and want to focus on the paper crafting.  Anyway, I have made a few cards since February and wanted to show them to you.
 
I tried out a card kit box, it was coffee and tea themed and so cute. These were the cards I made from that kit.
"I've Bean Thinking About You"
 
Coffee & Friends Make the perfect blend (this is a shaker card with dark brown beads)

"We Belong Together"
 
Life is like a cup of tea; it's all in how you make it

I Only Need Two Things: You & Tea

 
I then tried out a card kit from another company and while it was a great value, I have only made one card from the kit.
A little Hoppy Birthday card I made for my mom.
 
 
And last but not least I just wanted to play around with a background technique I saw online.  I sent one of these to my Sister-in-law who just started a new job.
 
 
 
So not a lot of crafty time going on here but I am nearly done organizing my supplies, hopefully by the end of next week I will be done and ready to create.  On a side note, I will not be selling on Etsy at this time due to their new payment rules. If you are unaware, Etsy is requiring all sellers to accept all forms of payment (including paypal, direct credit card/debit card transactions) linking up to your verified checking account.  Now I do not have a separate business checking account for these cards, as it just a hobby that I like to share and maybe have a little extra income. I used to only accept paypal and would let it sit there until I either spent it or had enough worth transferring. I do not feel comfortable linking up to my personal account and risk dishonest people having charge backs on accounts. So for now until I can find another place to list, I will only be selling in local consignment and bazaars. I will also work with individuals if there is something someone wants or needs (feel free to email me).  Okay, so now I will end that little rant/plug. 


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Graphic Novel Review of Huck, Book 1: All American by Mark Millar

Read for: Graphic Novel Challenge
 
Synopsis: "What if the person you least expected had an amazing secret?

In a quiet seaside town, a gas station clerk named Huck secretly uses his special gifts to do a good deed each day. When his story leaks, a media firestorm erupts, bringing him uninvited fame. As pieces of Huck's past begin to resurface, it's no longer clear who his friends are -- or whose lives may be in danger.
Collects HUCK #1-6"


My Review: I wasn't too sure what to expect in this graphic novel, but I had read a short Huck story in one of the bind ups and really enjoyed it. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised with this one. I have heard that this is a reimagined Superman, but honestly while there are similarities, I think Huck is different enough to be its own story. I really adore Huck as a character, he has such a sweet soft side even with all the strength and abilities, even when offered so much more, he still retains that goodness about him. I like that this is a super hero book without being just like every other super hero book out there. While I really enjoyed this one and as much as I would like to read more of Huck and see where the storyline takes him, this is the only one out so far.
 
My Rating: I really enjoyed this one, more than I expected. It is a super hero GN without being overly super hero or having to wade through too much backstory.  I also really liked the art style of it too.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bedtime Story: One Cent, Two Cent, Old Cent, New Cent by Bonnie Worth

Read for: Children's Book Challenge
 
Synopsis: "THE CAT IN the Hat puts to rest any notion that money grows on trees in this super simple look at numismatics, the study of money and its history. Beginning with the ancient practice of bartering, the Cat explains various forms of money used in different cultures, from shells, feathers, leather, and jade to metal ingots to coins (including the smallest—the BB-like Indian fanam—and the largest—the 8-foot-wide, ship-sinking limestone ones from the Islands of Yap!), to the current king of currency, paper. Also included is a look at banking, from the use of temples as the first banks to the concept of gaining or paying interest, and a step-by-step guide to minting coins. A fascinating introduction is bound to change young reader’s appreciation for change!"

My Review: I picked this book up for Munchkin to try to help teach him a little bit about money and saving it. Unfortunately, this book wasn't quite what I was expecting. While I do appreciate a good non-fiction book for kids, this one took it a little too in-depth for really young readers. The pages were long and there was a lot of information that will bore children. The rhymes are very creative though and make things a little more fun. This would be a better book for a classroom or if your child is really into money and different types, not so much if you are just trying to get the basics across to them.
 
My Rating: While I appreciate the amount of effort it must have taken to keep the classic Dr. Seuss rhyme and rhythm for this book, there is just a little too much info crammed into this book for young readers. It would be more appropriate as an early chapter book instead of styled like a picture book.  We give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
 
 
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Early Reader Review of The Garden that We Grew by Joan Holub

Read for: Early Reader Challenge
 
Synopsis: "It's spring and that means time for gardening! Carefully tended seeds grow to become buds, then plants, then pumpkins filled with seeds-ready for planting all over again! With eye-catching illustrations and fun-to-read texts, these latest additions to the Viking Easy-to-Read series are sure to get rave reviews from new readers."

My Review: I couldn't decide based on the title and synopsis if this was a good spring read or fall read. I think it turns out to be better for late summer and fall, during harvest time. This is a good level 2 book, it has a nice story to keep the reader interested with some more complex sentences and words. While we enjoyed the story, I was hoping it would involve more than just the pumpkins on the cover, but it turns out it doesn't involve more plants in the garden. Munchkin seemed to enjoy this one but we haven't picked it up again.
 
My Rating: I was a little disappointed in this book, I was hoping for more than just pumpkins.  There are already so many books about pumpkins, what about some corn, or beans, or peas and lettuce?  Anyway, it was a good book but not what we wanted.  We give it a rating of Three Paws.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Series Review of the Watersmeet Trilogy by Ellen Jensen Abbott

I have been trying to figure out a way to share all these books I read with you but still include other non-review posts on the blog.  One method I have come up with was to share the reviews for an entire series (or pair) of books in one post.  I will do my absolute best to keep spoilers out of these posts in case you plan to read the books, but there is a slight chance that even the synopsis of a book can give away the result of the previous book. So if you don't want to know anything at all about the later books in a series that might giveaway something in the first book STOP READING NOW!
 
 
Synopsis: "From her birth, Abisina has been outcast--for the color of her eyes and skin, and for her lack of a father. Only her mother's status as the village healer has kept her safe. But when a mythic leader arrives, Abisina's life is ripped apart. She escapes alone to try to find the father and the home she has never known. In a world of extremes, from the deepest prejudice to the greatest bonds of duty and loyalty, Abisina must find her own way and decide where her true hope lies."

My Review: I have had this series of books sitting on my shelf for ages and figured it was about time I picked them up. I believe that this was meant to be a YA book but the writing is pretty simplistic and more appropriate for a middle grade book. It was quite an expansive world to build with a variety of mythical creatures and cultures but unfortunately it wasn't developed quite enough to really immerse yourself in the world. The characters also fell a little flat for me, there honestly wasn't a single character that I cared enough about. I do appreciate that Abbott attempted to tackle some very tough subjects, religion and racism, and she does a great job of showing those subjects. But there just wasn't much to build around them. These are fairly short books so I will continue the series.
 
My Rating: I was a little disappointed in this book, it was slow and flat, I had no connection to the characters or story. It is a complex book with the world building and all the variety of races and belief systems.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.
 
 
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Synopsis: "Abisina had found a home in Watersmeet--the community her father led until he was killed by the evil White Worm. But now, Watersmeet is as divided as the village she fled as an outcast. The land faces a new threat, and an uneasy alliances between the humans and the creatures will have to be formed to survive. If Abisina doesn't become the leader Watersmeet needs, she may lose everything. But can she take her father's place?

This powerful and moving fantasy deals with timely issues about identity, prejudice, and war. The Centaur's Daughter is the sequel to Watersmeet, which was an IRA Young Adult Book Award Notable and a YALSA Teens' Top Ten Nominee."


My Review: While this book was a slight improvement over Watersmeet in some manners it was pulled back in others. I like how the series picked up not exactly where it left off but allowed for a little time to pass, but with that it left some important matters up to you to figure out. The world building still needs a lot of work and it has gotten to the point that I really need a map. I do like how this book has transitioned into more of a internal and coming of age type of book for Abisina, she is trying to find her place in her world as her body changes as does her roles. With that said I think to make the book more appealing some love triangles were thrown in but they weren't well done and I did not care for them at all. Again this was a book that fell flat for me, it really kept me at arms length and I didn't get emotionally involved with any of it.
 
 
My Rating: There was a pretty big time gap between this book and the first and while it did allow for some development off page, it also made it difficult to re-establish where everything was standing (especially after all the world building).  I did connect with the character more but not enough to really care what happened. I give it a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.
 
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Synopsis: "Abisina is ready to embrace her destiny and become the Keeper of Watersmeet. But the survival of the land depends on the north and south—the centaurs, dwarves, fairies, humans, and fauns—joining together to confront a gathering evil. The rift that opened in the mountains has continued to spew forth terrible creatures. Abisina knows that the most powerful creature of all has arrived—though what shape it will take is still a mystery.

She sets out to bring the folk together, but the land has never been more divided, and, Abisina doubts if she has the strength to be the leader that Watersmeet needs. Even the power of the Keeper's necklace doesn't seem to be enough—and then that is taken from her. Can Abisina's faith in the power of love, acceptance, and unity survive this final test?

This is the exciting conclusion to the acclaimed fantasy trilogy that began with Watersmeet."


My Review: I kind of struggled with this final book in the Watersmeet trilogy. I still really did not care for any of the characters or what happened to them. The story did progress down a darker path compared to the previous two books and there was a lot more danger in this one, and less hope. While I am glad that this series is over, there were a lot of big questions left unanswered and was a little unsatisfying in that aspect. It was also a very slow moving story as a whole, with not a lot of action. I feel like the author had a lot of things to say about hot button issues, like racism, and kind of used this trilogy as a way to voice those, not that they were bad or wrong but I feel like it kind of took over the story. This just wasn't the book or the series I had hoped for when I first picked it up.
 
My Rating: I thought with this would be better since there was more action and a lot darker feel but since I already kind of didn't care about what happened to the characters it was a bit of a struggle to get through.  I give it a rating of Two Paws.
 
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Full Series Review: I have had this series sitting on my shelf for quite a while now, I was originally attracted to the Centaur character. I think that Abbott took on a lot with this series, there is a lot of world building required, especially with such a variety of character types and religious beliefs, she also tried to tackle many tough subject matters throughout this series.  It seems like it is meant of a middle grade to early young adult audience but with how slow and complex the series is I don't think many in that target audience would sit through the entire series. It is clearly a plot driven storyline, which if done right can be fantastic but unfortunately this one just fell flat for me.  I have also come to the conclusion that I am not a fan of "the chosen one" or "destined to save everything" tropes, which this was clearly (but more about that in another post).  I give this series as a whole a rating of Two Paws.