Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket and read by Tim Curry

Summary from Goodreads:
Dear Reader,

You have undoubtedly picked up this book by mistake, so please put it down. Nobody in their right mind would read this particular book about the lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire on purpose, because each dismal moment of their stay in the village of V.F.D. has been faithfully and dreadfully recorded in these pages. I can think of no single reason why anyone would want to open a book containing such unpleasant matters as migrating crows, an angry mob, a newspaper headline, the arrest of innocent people, the Deluxe Cell, and some very strange hats. It is my solemn and sacred occupation to research each detail of the Baudelaire children's lives and write them all down, but you may prefer to do some other solemn and sacred thing, such as reading another book instead.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket
I really love these books. I also have been super enjoying listening to them all on audio. I think this one may have been my favorite so far. The word play, the humor, the witty intelligence of it all, and the characters, just make for one remarkably fun series. Also, side note: I got into a long conversation about the series with an adult checking out one of the books at work! She also couldn’t get over how smart and amazing these books were. I love finding fellow fans to sing the praises of books over.
Any way, this book really takes the phrase: “it takes a village to raise a child,” very seriously. The orphans are now sent to a village, as compared to a guardian or a school. When given a list of villages to choose from, of course the children pick the one named V.F.D, in hopes of it providing some kind of clue into finding their triplet friends.
The vile village of V.F.D. proves to be rather vile. The kids are forced to follow an obscene list of rules put on the by the town elders. The town elders are very found of the many crows who inhabit the village and the most important rule is to not bother them. The children again aren’t given an education, but instead a profession. They are meant to follow the handyman around the village and to spend the day doing everyone’s chores.
Luckily, for them clues do come to pas in regards to their kidnapped friends. They have mysterious poetry they have to decipher. Too bad Olaf comes back and blames the children for murder. There’s an angry mob of villagers that plan on burning the children at the stake. There’s self-sustaining hot air mobile homes, murders of crows, mysterious fountains, secret codes hidden in couplets, exciting reunions, prison breaks, narrow escapes, and my all time favorite ending as of yet.
These books do have a repetitive nature and certainly a formula that can get a bit tiresome. However, the books are finally getting to the part in the series when they are branching out a bit differently. They aren’t all the same any more. And a larger orverarcing plot arc is finally coming into the picture.
This one also had a particularly sad moment when Klaus realized it was his birthday (as he was sitting in a prison cell, awaiting his burning at the stake). And I had a tear in my eye when he compared it to his previous year’s birthday. These books can be hilarious, absurd, and full of adventure, but they can all sneak in these emotional moments as well. Really, I was quite impressed with this installment. It’s definitely one of my favorites. I give it a 10/10.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Good Week in Books (128)

I had a nice little book week. I received one for review (thank you, Disney Hyperion). And I actually purchased one. I have worked hard to not buy a lot of books any more. And for the most part, I have become super successful at it. I receive so many for review and I pick up a lot at conferences. And I also work in a library…Every now and then something comes out that I know I’ll want to re-read again at some point though, so I’ll buy it.
The pretties:

Every Word
by Ellie Marney
Out of Abaton by John Claude Bemis
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (174)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Heartless by Marissa Meyer (11/8/16):

Description on Goodreads:
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
Why I’m Waiting:
Oh my goodness, this sounds amazing! I love this author.  Her Lunar Chronicles is probably hands down one of my all time favorite YA series. I cannot wait to see what she does next. Also, I have such a soft spot in my heart for Alice in Wonderland retellings. I know Meyer will do this retelling like a pro. I love that it’s about the future Queen of Hearts too. And I love picturing the future Queen of Hearts just wanting to open a bakery with her best friend. Yes. Why is November so far away?
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Summary from Goodreads:
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
This book crossed my radar a long time ago. There was a lot of hype for this one at BEA last year.  I’ve never read a book by Dennard, but I’ve read so much of her praises and I do follow her on social media. This book just sounded so awesome. Basically it sounded a bit like a giant YA Avatar type fantasy that centered on friendship. How can that be bad?
For the most part, I did really enjoy this one. It did read like a giant YA Avatar type fantasy that centered on friendship. I love YA that has good friendships in it. It’s kind of my experience that if there are no good friends, too much emphasis is on the romance. And I love romance, really I do. I just like a few side dishes with my main course and my main course doesn’t always have to be the same. So, for that aspect of the book I’m so grateful.
I loved this world too. I found the different kinds of magic to be fascinating. I want to know so much more about it. I want to see more of the fire magic and iron magic and the bloodwitch. There’s just so much I don’t know yet, in regards to this world and the magic that I know I will have to continue reading the series to learn about it. This author is great at never info-dumping. She builds her world as she goes along. And while sometimes this can be frustrating, at other times I really respect her for it. She started right in the middle of an action sequence, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I like the idea of political powers going on crazy missions and risking it all to get their hands on the truthwitch. I do kind of want to know how everyone seems to know of her abilities despite the fact she’s lived with that secret her whole life. Was everyone knowing about her, part of her uncle’s plan? And how far did his plan reach exactly? So much I need to know!
There were two things that bothered me a little, while reading. One, I’m not sure I believed Safiya and Iseault’s friendship. And two, I really hated the romantic interest. So, I just said how much I loved that it was about friendship, and I did. I just wish there was more to go on than a past life-saving event that was quickly summarized and not ever shown. I wanted to see their friendship more than I did. They were always risking each other’s lives for the other and putting their friendship first above all else, which is great. But why? Why are they friends? Maybe if I saw them interact in any way that wasn’t running for their lives or fighting bad guys, I’d see it more. I guess their friendship felt kind of insta-love like, with no real development. I get that it might not make sense to see their history or how they first became friends in the story, but I did need to see more of their interactions/connections.
And the leading love interest was such a jerk. I’m not sure I could ever fall for a guy who chains up the main character (twice). Seriously, he has to punish his crew for disobeying and he can’t look like he’s treating her any differently, but really? How am I supposed to fall for a guy who practically tortures the main character on some weird/twisted type of principal? I though he was supposed to be different from his sister. Couldn’t part of that difference be a sense of compassion and humility?
All in all, this book was fun. I loved the idea of a fantasy based on two girl friends. I wish I could see more of that friendship than I did. I love the world the author created and all the unanswered questions I have are seriously making me need the next book already. There was a lot of action, which I love. I’m not a fan of the romantic interest. But, it’s only book 1. Maybe someone else will enter the picture later? I give it an 7.5/10.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket and read by Tim Curry

Summary from Goodreads:
Dear Reader,

If you have just picked up this book, then it is not too late to put it back down. Like the previous books in A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, there is nothing to be found in these pages but misery, despair, and discomfort, and you still have time to choose something else to read.

Within the chapters of this story, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire encounter a darkened staircase, a red herring, some friends in a dire situation, three mysterious initials, a liar with an evil scheme, a secret passageway, and parsley soda.

I have sworn to write down these tales of the Baudelaire orphans so the general public will know each terrible thing that has happened to them, but if you decide to read something else instead, you will save yourself from a heapful of horror and woe.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

It’s so nice to have Tim Curry back as narrator. He’s really become one of my favorite audio book narrators and when I’m done with this series, I may have to go find more books that he has narrated.
I enjoyed this story more than some of the other ones. While the orphans are back to guardian-hopping, as they were in all the other books besides the previous one, where they were sent to boarding school, things are a little bit different. For starters, they have friends they need to rescue. Also, their “friend”/banker, Mr. Poe is actively working to locate the Quagmire triplets (the kidnapped friends) and Count Olaf.
Also, I feel like the adventures the Baudelaire children go on and the risks they take, are getting tougher and scarier. The kids are getting tougher and braver, and dare I say a little wiser. They now know not to always jump out with the Olaf suspicions. They know about gathering evidence. And they certainly know that adults won’t believe them at their word, ever.
I like that the author doesn’t sugar coat wealth. The kids are unfortunate, living in a shed filled with crabs; yet, they are also unfortunate living in a gigantic penthouse apartment with their own rooms. At least the crab-ridden orphan shack didn’t have Esme.
There’s also the every growing mystery of VFD. What do those letters stand for? There’s also hints starting to grow about the fire that killed the Baudelaire parents, not being all that it seemed to be. And then of course, there’s all the playing with words like the statue of the red herring actually being a red herring.
I really enjoyed this one. The suspense was great. The wit and humor keep growing with each installment. There was a little plot twist that surprised me. And I’m so curious to know how everything is all connected. I give this one an 8/10.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl # 2: Squirrel You Know It's True by Ryan North

Summary from Goodreads:
The breakout character of 2015 continues her one-woman crusade against injustice and jerks! These TAILS of the Squirrel Girl will show you the Marvel Universe's most powerful super hero from a bunch of brand-new perspectives, several of them QUITE ASTONISHING. COLLECTING: THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL 5-8
I love these comics. So far, there’s only been two volumes, but I can easily see this becoming a huge series. Aka: I want this to be a huge series, so bad.
The first part was all about these hostages stuck in the Statue of Liberty. One of them was Squirrel Girl’s roommate. She kept trying to calm everyone down by letting them know that Squirrel Girl was on her way. All the hostages had their own (most likely too strange to be real) stories about the super hero.
The rest of the volume is about saving the world from a Norse mythology type apocolypse. Ratatoskr, the evil Norse God of squirrels, is causing all kinds of problems. Thor and Loki come to play in this one! And so do a few new heroes: Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi.
The action in this is the standard superhero fare. However, everything in here is hilarious. Between the Twitter feeds with Iron Man, the Dead Pool flashcards, the fan fiction comic: Cat Thor, the evil squirrel, and the witty comments at the bottom of each page, I was pretty much always smiling, if not laughing.
I liked the second part of the book better than the first. The first part was creative and a good way to show that other people have heard of Squirrel Girl, but it just wasn’t as fun as the parts with Thor. I love how involved the roommate character has become. I love that Loki agreed to look like Cat Thor and that we got to see the fan fiction comic, on notebook paper no less.
This is one smart, funny, new super hero. And I’m so glad I found out about it on Goodreads. I recommend it to fans of Ms. Marvel. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (173)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (6/7/16):

Description on Goodreads:
The city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all—the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls.

As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it.
When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.

A unique, fast-paced adventure that looks at the monsters we face every day—including the monster within.
Why I’m Waiting:
How cool does this plot sound? It reminds me vaguely of Laini Taylor’s books. Yet, it also has this civil war (north v south) feel. It sounds awesome. I also love the cover. I have to admit I have yet to read a book by Victoria Schwab. I have read nothing but good things about her. And I might even own some of her earlier works. I just haven’t gotten there yet. And well, I may have to start with this one.
What are you waiting on this week?