Wednesday, December 28, 2016

End of 2016 - The Best Books of My Year

Ok all, since last post was the books I just couldn't even bring myself to finish, here are the best books I read this year, in no particular order:


1. Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen compiles some of the best offerings from my favorite web comic Sarah's Scribbles. I swear, Sarah is stalking me and writing about my life!



 

2. The At Somerton trilogy by Leela Rasheed. Downton Abbey for teenagers. Delicious and soapy and just plain good! 


3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. Simply magical. 

Have a wonderful New Year everyone! See you in 2017 with a lot more reviews, tales from library land and stories to tell!





Monday, December 26, 2016

End of 2016 - The Worst Books of My Year

     Every year there are at least a couple of books that I file in my Goodreads "Crap I Could Not Even Finish Reading" shelf. These are MY personal opinions of what the worst books I have read are, and they will probably be unpopular opinions, but this is MY blog so I don't care.
    In 2016 only 3 things ended up on this list, so let's get started and I will tell you why they all sucked. These are only in order of me trying to read them, by the way, not in order of awfulness, because they are all uniquely awful in its own way.


1. Philip K Dick is a science-fiction LEGEND. His novels and short stories have been turned into some of the most iconic science-fiction movies of all time, and The Man in The High Castle has recently become one of my favorite TV series. It's an Amazon Prime exclusive and believe me when I say it is almost worth getting Prime JUST TO WATCH THIS SHOW.
     The premise is pretty simple: what would the United States be like if we had lost World War 2. The show is amazing. Well acted, well written, disturbing, imaginative and gripping. Naturally, being someone who firmly believes "the book is always better" I was dying to read the story that inspired it. 
     The book is SO NOT BETTER.
     It is one of the dullest, slowest, most pointless things I have ever read. It is VERY different from the show in that it lacks any real focus. The book jumps from character to character, spending way too much time exploring the thoughts of characters who make no real difference to the plot. 
     I got about halfway through when I got sick and tired of waiting for SOMETHING, ANYTHING to happen. 
     It got tossed back on the shelf and abandoned, and good riddance to it. 



2. Ooooh! Sacrilege! Oooooh! Bad librarian! How could I possibly not have loved a book that was a best seller, critically acclaimed, award winning and turned into a hit motion picture?
    Well, I will tell you how. The Book Thief was BORING. Dull. Lifeless. I found none of the characters interesting or compelling and the one and only thing I thought was interesting or original about it was that the narrator of the story is Death. 
    But, if I don't care about what happens to any of the characters, even knowing this is a book set in the Holocaust and that bad things are afoot, I can't do it. I just can't, There was not one character in this piece that I worried about, wondered about or cared for. Especially not Liesl, the main character, who I just wanted to smack really hard most of the time. 



3. Fun Home made this year's list of most banned and challenged books. Was it banned for being boring? Was it banned for being pretentious? Was it banned for being overblown, and full of itself? Nah, it was actually banned because the main character is a lesbian and *heavy dripping sarcasm* heaven forbid we dare to DRAW two women being intimate. 
    I gave up on Fun Home because it was sold as a story of a child coming to terms with her father's life and death. What it actually was, was an excuse for the author to talk about how crappy her parents were and blame them for all the things she didn't have the guts to tell them they sucked at in person while at the same time showing off how many high-brow books she reads. 
     The only redeeming thing about this book was the lovely artwork. Everything else was pointless. 



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: Saving Hamlet



     What a weird but ultimately interesting mish-mash of concepts Saving Hamlet turned out to be! The story is part teen coming of age novel, part historical fiction and part science-fiction.
     Emma is starting a brand new year and working on becoming a brand new person: she has just quite her high school's soccer team, where she was a big star, and is now a proud member of the school's theater production crew. She knows this is going to be a great year because this year they are staging Hamlet. Her best friend Lulu, a talented actress is pretty much counting on being the school's first female Prince of Denmark and her crush Brandon is going to be directing so Emma is psyched to get to spend all kinds of time with him.
     Then at auditions everything starts to go wrong.  Then, Lulu's parents find out she's gay and they do NOT take the news well. Then, Lulu gets cast as Ophelia because Emma's crush ends  refuses to have a girl play the lead. When Emma suggests giving the total acting noob who's been cast as Hamlet a chance Lulu stops speaking to her. And honestly, the play is turning out to be a complete and total disaster because Brandon may well be the worst director of all time. Emma is trying her hardest to keep everything together when she has a stage accident - she falls through a trap door and bonks her head. When she wakes up she is a the Globe Theater in London. During the Renaissance. And William Shakespeare is on the stage. Luckily for Emma she just got a pixie cut so all the actors in the company think she's a boy. In fact they assume she is the new director's assistant and give her a job.
     The story goes back and forth between the Globe and it's production of Hamlet and Emma's time and her production. Turns out that even on the greatest stage in the world, with the greatest playwright in the world, theater is a tough gig... so now Emma has TWO plays to save, a friendship to repair, and maybe even a second crush to pine over.
     The story is fast paced and fun, and call me a sucker but I do love pretty much anything Shakespearean, so I was pretty much sold on this one from go. There are some cheese-tastic moments, and it's not anything groudbreaking story wise, but it's definitely solid.

Final Review: 3/5 stars

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: Emeralds and Ashes (At Somerton, Book 3)



     Leela Rasheed's Emeralds and Ashes is the final book in the At Somerton Series, which is often described as "Downton Abbey for teens." It is only available in e-book format, and there no plans to release it as a physical book.
     I am so sad this series is over. It really has been a favorite of mine this year, and I wish it could continue some more. Now, be warned.... there are

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

SPOILERS FOR ANYONE WHO HAS NOT READ CINDERS AND SAPPHIRES AND DIAMONDS AND DECEIT!

    Are you still here? Good. Isn't this series SO GOOD!!!!??? In this final chapter, World War 1 has officially broken out. Everyone at Somerton Court is being affected by it in some way - Rose and her new husband are trapped in Egypt with no way to get home to England. Lord Averly has enlisted in the service and has left the family.... and Sebastian is looking to the military as a way to escape the shame of being openly outed as a homosexual, which is not only frowned upon by society but actually illegal.
    Meanwhile, Ada's relationship with Ravi is still in limbo and even snooty and obnoxious Charlotte's life is in a state of flux as she seeks out her own path and tries to pull away from her mother's influence and meddling. 
    Suffice it to say, it's all SO good. Just SOOOO good. A total and complete page turner! I was sad to finish it but I could not put it down!

Final Review: 5/5 bookmarks because I enjoyed this series so much! Sad to see it go! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Review: Heart and Brain - Gut Insticts



     Awkward Yeti is one of my favorite web comics. I swear, Heart and Brain are my boyfriend and I to a "T." Of course, he is sensible Brain and I am flighty Heart. Most of the time. So, of course I was excited to get hold of this compilation of some of the "guts" comics.
     Honestly, I ended up a little bit disappointed. The publishers could have picked MUCH better material, they certainly have a lot of great stuff to choose from, but they ended up picking some of my least favorite, and in my opinion, some of the least funny moments from the series. Also, it was way too short and barely scratches the surface of how good this comic really is, so it's sadly a poor introduction to the guts for people who may not be familiar with the web comic.

Final Rating 2/5 bookmarks, because it was so disappointing.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Sleeper and the Spindle


     The Sleeper and the Spindle by the wonderful Neil Gaiman is a retelling of both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty with a feminist spin. 
     It begins a few days before Snow White's wedding. She is now a Queen, not just a princess, and she is starting to have second thoughts about becoming someone's wife. That is when her friends the Dwarfs arrive to let her know about a problem - in the neighboring kingdom, a princess has been cursed with endless sleep. This curse was originally contained to the neighboring castle, but now it is spreading throughout the land, and there is a real possibility that it will eventually spread into Snow's kingdom. 
    Snow decides to take on the challenge of finding a way to wake the sleeper, in order to prevent her kingdom from coming under the curse, so she puts her wedding on hold and sets out on an adventure. 
   The story is short and sweet, and is written in language that is easy enough for both younger kids and adults to appreciate the story. There is enough of a twist ending here to make it one of the more original fairy tale re-tellings also. 

Final Rating: 3/5 bookmarks