Monday, January 30, 2012

The Vampire Diaries: The Hunters: Phantom

With the final Vampire Diaries book that was written by L.J. Smith I had given up on the series. I felt that Smith's writing had been progressively going downhill over the course of her most recent Vampire Diaries books and Midnight had been the last straw. The writing was weak, the characters were overemotional and whiney, and the plot was so all over the place that I felt as if I had entered another dimension. So once I was done I claimed I was finished with the series even though I knew there would be more books coming out that would not be written by L.J. Smith.

My determination not to read the series broke pretty much the moment Phantom came out. I had time to get over my annoyance of the previous book and I had to admit I was curious about how the characters would be handled by new authors.

Well, the book was still a little left field with all the dimension stuff but the majority of it was steadily focusing once more on the main characters and their town. Through it, the characters are fighting to achieve normalcy but I found the book to be very normal. IE: like the start of the series.

It moved along quickly, to the point where I felt (while reading) that it was too fast, but by the books end the pace seemed to have been perfect.

The book is a quick and effortless read that has a steady plot that eventually comes to a neat point and then is resolved. The writer(s) brought back a glimmer of what formerly was The Vampire Diaries and gives me hope for future books. And there will be future books and I might actually continue reading them.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Mists of Avalon

While we are on this Arthurian legend kick, I figured I would keep my other Morgan le Fay/Morgana/Morgaine book post within the same week as my previous entry: I Am Morgan le Fay.

The Mists of Avalon is another book that I have had on my to-read list. It has been there since I discovered it was a book after watching the mini series. Again, my love for the character (she goes by Morgaine in this book) is evident so bear with me.

While this book mainly focuses on Morgaine, it also does this wonderful feature of all the important ladies tied to the Arthurian legend. The Avalon family, aunts, cousins, sisters and even Gwenhyfar. It's filled with these powerful, and maybe not so powerful, female characters and displays effortlessly how involved in the legend these women were.

But, above all (and I feel this is worth mentioning) this is a book argumentative about religion. At least, that's how I see it. I try to stay away from two topics in public; one being politics and the other being religion. People get very uppity and offend quickly if you do not agree with their point of view and that remains true within this tale. Marion Zimmer Bradley places the pagan beliefs on a pedestal and at times, I feel, attacks Christian beliefs but, at other's, I feel she displays a gentle example of all religions being quite similar and sharing much of the same beliefs.

I appreciated that MZB didn't hold back in making all of her characters both lovable and hated. Every single character I disliked at one point, some more than others, but they all had at least one redeeming quality. King Arthur seems to be the most pitiful of characters and the most good hearted. He seemed almost simple, or maybe he is too loving, because those around him seem to be in more control of what is going on than he himself. It's the decisions of other women, mainly, that drive him to make the choices he makes. His relationship with his half-sister Morgaine is something that is "filled with sin" but there is also a quality to the relationship that even when they are aged calls forth the bond of older sister and younger brother. I feel that their relationship is one of the most heartbreaking ones in the book.

The land of Avalon sounds like a fairy heaven and it struck me as such when I was a little kid watching the mini series. I wanted to be a maiden of Avalon! I wanted to have magic and see with the Sight! Reading the book as an adult...I'd still rather be a maid of Avalon than a woman at court; although now I don't find either lifestyle to sound very enjoyable.

The book is nearly 900 pages long and a lot of the points made (religious, mainly) are repeated over and over. That was my biggest qualm with the book. Yes, I know your idea of those pagan ways, I know your beliefs of God, but it doesn't need to be repeated every three pages! I remember your qualms, I promise! The repetitive complaints about religion was what slowed up the book during different parts but otherwise I found myself reading it quickly. You're never with a female character for too long before you're given another female character to read about. It's easy to follow and keeps everything moving along with ease.

There are two points that I feel were made with the book that I believe can be followed today: one being that meddling in affairs of other's typically is not a good idea and is wanton for retaliation. Another idea being that although some religions are no longer practiced, that beliefs may no longer be held, they may slip "into the mists" so to speak but they are still there. They're a part of history and therefore still living in some way.

This book only made me love Morgaine all the more. She reaches out to the reader in a way that the other female characters do not. She is well intentioned, but things often go astray or she is is wronged by someone she cares for. She's a character that is wronged in many ways and not given the credit or attention she deserves by those around her.

I'm glad that I didn't read the book as a teenager because I feel much of it would have been lost by me. As an adult, I feel that I grasped the plots more and was able to understand the religious conviction and subtle details. I don't know if I'll ever read it again (it really was a large book) but maybe once I become a parent, if I ever have the time, I'll give it a try. I feel that I would be able to potentially see it from a new light (there is a lot of detail of motherhood within the book) but for now, I'm happy with what the book has left me with, the magic and mystery of that time period and the desire to learn more of the Arthurian legend.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Am Morgan le Fay

So, I've fallen into an obsession with Arthurian legend because I've also fallen into straight up fangirling over BBC's Merlin. Actually, I'm pretty obsessed with most BBC shows and have more or less forgotten about American TV, but that's another story.

When I was a little kid I would watch any mini-series that involved Merlin or Arthur and I always found myself fascinated by Morgan le Fay/Morgana/Morgaine. She was that character that was "bad." You weren't supposed to like her, you were supposed to be weary of her and hold back your trust. Depending on what mini-series you were watching she would have reason for her less than positive morals but the fact remained that I liked the character.

As a child I had a very black and white world: a character was good or bad. There wasn't an in-between because I didn't think that deeply into what "character" truly was. But Morgan le Fay was really one of the first characters that I realized could be both good and bad. She was a person and people had more depth than just being completely good or completely bad and most times they became good or bad through life events.

It was an earth shattering moment, a very grown up realization that opened my eyes to so many more characters in my books and shows. Since then I have always been one to like the character Morgan (or her varying names) and upon watching the BBC show I was reminded of that and decided to dive into some of the Arthurian books that are on the market, many of which I've had on my 'to read' list on goodreads since I joined the site.

That brought me to I Am Morgan le Fay, a book that I've wanted to read for years but never had the opportunity to until recently. It's a short book and not very hard to get into. Immediately I feel for Morgan and am cheering her on. Nancy Springer writes in a simplistic way but uses that simplicity to dig right into your core and cause you to quickly take sides. I felt disgusted by Igraine's attitude towards her daughter and love for so many of the characters, even Annie, the Gypsy pony.

I loved the story of Morgan and Thomas and all the little people who lived within her home. The magic felt real and was not overdone and the scenery was easy to imagine. Although Morgan is resentful of much and does seem to close herself off from much in the world by the end of the novel, accepting her place as the future "villain," it's still hard to not feel for this character.

Years ago while getting a certification in writing I had a lesson where I was to write scenes from the villains perspective. It was eye opening to see this character from their point of view and to put words to the character's thoughts when I was so used to writing about the good characters. That's what Springer did with I Am Morgan le Fay. She also has I Am Mordred, another Arthurian villain and another book I own and have to read. It was refreshing to see this character and enter her mind. There are so many versions of the Arthurian legend and the role Morgan and I certainly know very little about what is held at a higher point than others but I enjoyed this nonetheless. It's certainly a book to read if you want something quick, entertaining and magical.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

It seems like everyone has the best intentions of reading this book or have already finished it. I had my eye on it when it gained notice on the New York Times best sellers list but didn't approach the book... or a bookstore for that matter. I had banned myself from buying more books in September with far too many to read and the reading never being done. Then the end of the year approached and I broke down.

Working in a tutoring center I can read while not helping students. But the end of the year was also the start of final papers and tests which meant I couldn't be knee deep in Charles Dickens and easily hop up to help a student. I needed something enjoyable and quick. So I headed to the bookstore.

After flipping through the book and reading the first page I found it to (hopefully) fit my expectations and a few hours later I was beginning to read.

It seems that people have an assortment of expectations for this book: they want it to be scary, creepy, or just a little strange. They think it is entirely about the lives of children in this tiny home and they seem disappointed when it isn't exactly what they expected.

But this is what I expected: entertainment. I wanted to be taken somewhere else and experience another world. I wanted characters whom I could cheer on; no matter if I loved or simply put up with them. My expectations were met and happily so.

Now... the plot. I feel that I could easily give too much information away but I will use as much caution as I can. The main character, Jacob, has a relatively normal (if borderline boring) life. He has a job he hates, parents who are neither here nor there, and a somewhat insane grandfather who can see "monsters". As a survivor of WWII, It's easy to picture what monsters he may assume he is seeing. But assuming isn't always the way to go and there is certainly more than what meets the eye with nearly every character in this book.

There is a certain creepiness that is obtained by the use of vintage photographs through out the book and I certainly would not be willing to experience most of what the characters do. But in the end I found myself eager to find out what happened next with all of the characters and excited to begin each chapter.

Ah, I forgot, I did have one assumption for this book: that it was an open and close type of story. That everything would be wrapped up at the end. It isn't that type of book. There will be more (I believe a second book is on its way) so my assumption was wrong.

And I am completely okay with that!

So people thought it was too scary, others were bored because it wasn't scary enough, and some teased it for seeming to be a strange version of X-Men. Well, I still enjoyed it and I intend on reading the next book when and if it comes out. This book is incredibly popular right now and it's easy to get sidetracked by all the praise and criticism. The best thing to do is go out to your local bookstore or library and flip through it's pages. See what the book says to you and decide then if you're willing to read it. If you happen to like it, remember me, I liked it too.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Claire de Lune

If you've read any of my past reviews you will already know that I jump for YA books that are simple and entertaining when my life is hectic. Claire de Lune has been a YA book that I've seen floating around goodreads for quite some time. When I was particularly busy but in desperate need for a book to read I decided to give Claire de Lune a go.

To be blunt, the book is simple and not a hard read. The language used is easy, the scenery simple enough, and the characters aren't extremely hard to handle. But, it entertained me for the little time it took for me to read it and I've recommended it to other people who needed something to read on flights or during drives.

Claire celebrates her sixteenth birthday only to discover that her mother has been holding back a very important tidbit of information: she's a werewolf by birth. Slowly, Claire draws closer to turning into a wolf and that ended up being my most favorite part of the book. The confusion of the teenage girl and upset that she's growing hair on the back of her hands and near her ears is something completely believable...or maybe it's not enough. I know I wouldn't handle that situation with as much grace as Claire does.

On top of all of this, Claire has a new romance to contend with. As if being a teenager wasn't hard enough, a new boyfriend and becoming a wolf certainly doesn't help. But that's not all when it's a well known fact that Claire's love interests father is one of the biggest threats to the werewolf population and has a desire to rid the world of them completely. With mysterious deaths happening through out the town, being a werewolf is not the safest thing. It's a classic who dunnit but with the twist of a young girl coming into her own (which is something all teenagers have to deal with).

Is this book incredibly riveting? No, not really, but I enjoyed reading it when I had the opportunity. Is it very original? Not entirely...but it's refreshing to read a book about a girl who is a werewolf, in fact, all the women are werewolves. Now that was something new and interesting.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Girl Who Was on Fire

Attention fans of The Hunger Games: there is more that you must read.

The end of a trilogy (or series) is often disappointing to me. I live and breathe the lives of these characters through heartbreak and success then very suddenly... it's over. I'm always left feeling like I lost a piece of something and it's true - I have - the entertainment and emotional pull of the books have left me lonely and without.

I have felt this way for many books but the most recent has been The Hunger Games. So, imagine my joy when I stumbled upon The Girl Who Was On Fire (not to be confused with The Girl Who Played With Fire. This is all about The Hunger Games and not about Steig Larson). The book is a series of essays by a list of authors and fans of the trilogy where they focus on a particular theme of the books.

I found it to be incredibly insightful and I came away from reading the essays with a better understanding of the books. Or, to be more specific, a different outlook of what I read in The Hunger Games. The information provided and the mix of real life facts in reflection of the fiction that I read and loved was startling. What I found to be most fascinating is the idea that this frightening world of Panem which we read about might actually be more similar to our world than we realize.

I think this is a companion book that people must read when they are finished with the books. Don't read this before you're done with the trilogy because it's filled with spoilers. But it is certainly a book that needs to be checked out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - January 10th

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I'm actually in the process of flying to Florida right now but I figured I'd get this set up prior to my flight!

"It's the part of you that keeps you human. I suppose that's your blessing and your curse."
Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries: The Ripper 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Going Away...But Not

Hello readers! Wasn't it a week ago I was saying that I was back for good? Well I'm still here but I'm taking a brief hiatus (with posts scheduled!)

Tomorrow I'll be getting up at about 4 to head to the airport and hop my flight to Florida! I'm very excited as this will be the first time I've gone for an extended visit to see my grandparents since I was 12! I'll be in the Sunshine state until the 19th but I have book reviews that are scheduled to be posting! So keep an eye out for The Girl Who Was on Fire, Claire de Lune, and Miss. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

See you in two weeks!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Books Read from January 2011-December 2011

Books read during the year 2011 (at least the ones that I wrote reviews for!):

  1. Vampire Diaries- Stefan's Diaries Vol. 1 Origins by L.J. Smith Review is Here
  2. Vampire Diaries- Stefan's Diaries Vol. 2 Bloodlust by L.J. Smith Review is Here
  3. The Hours by Michael Cunningham Review is Here
  4. Silverlicious by Victoria Kann Review is Here
  5. The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern Review is Here
  6. Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson Review is Here
  7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling Review is Here
  8. Father of Lies by
  9. Pandora by Anne Rice
  10. Little Women by
  11. Vittorio the Vampire by Anne Rice
  12. Merrick by Anne Rice
  13. Blood and Gold by Anne Rice
  14. Madeline at the White House by John Bemelmans Marciano
  15. The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight by L.J. Smith
  16. Choose to Recycle
  17. The Easter Egg by Jan Brett
  18. Love Your World
  19. All Just Glass by Amelia Atwater Rhodes
  20. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
  21. Bats at the Beach
  22. Of Love and Evil by Anne Rice
  23. The Family by Mario Puzo
  24. The Life of Cesare Borgia
  25. Blood and Flowers by Penny Blubaugh
  26. Eighth Scroll by Dr. Laurence B Brown
  27. The Loud Book
  28. The Quiet Book
  29. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  30. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  31. Blackwood Farm by Anne Rice
  32. Blood Canticle by Anne Rice
  33. Green Living
  34. Common Sense
  35. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
  36. Slate
  37. Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  38. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  39. Instructions by Neil Gaiman (link works for 40. and 41.)
  40. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
  41. Vampire Diaries- Stefan's Diaries Vol. 3 The Craving by L.J. Smith
  42. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
  43. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - January 3

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title; author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

There is no such thing as a true tale. Truth has many faces and the truth is like to the old road to Avalon; it depends on your own will, and your own thoughts, whither the road will take you.
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello and Welcome!

Hey, remember me?

Erica, the blog owner of Soon Remembered Tales?

Yeah... I have been the worst blog owner for the past... seven months (wow, that is a long time). During that time a lot has gone on! Unfortunately, my luck was definitely split in half. The passing of my cat was the kick off, followed by a diagnosis of pre-cancerous cells (please, go to the doctor for your regular check ups!), and then a series of cancer diagnosis' in my family. It's been stressful, very stressful, and that was the main reason why I needed to take a break from this blog.

Another nicer reason was because I picked up work! If you've been following my blog for the last eight months that I was active you may remember my mentioning that I became a tutor at a local college. Well, I'm still working at the college but since this summer I have also been doing editorial work for a local book publisher!

I went from barely qualifying for part time work to working full time once editing was added on to my schedule. That, in addition to real life persistently keeping me busy, kept me away from books and this blog.

I think 2011 is the first year that I didn’t finish my goal for reading. I knew it was a long stretch (150 books in a year) but I couldn’teven break 100. I am someone who feels like a failure if I do not complete my goals but I think I was expecting too much from myself when so much was going on. This year, I still want to maintain some level of a goal but I’ll downgrade: 50 books must be read this year that are not qualified as children’s books. We’ll see if I can manage that! I've been so busy it's been hard to keep up with reviews of everything I've even read so maybe a smaller goal will be more feasible. 

This upcoming year I hope for big changes (if you’re a book publisher and are hiring, check out my linkedin profile!) but I also want to continue with this blog. I started a tumblr page that will post an assortment of book related things. But most of all, I want to discuss the books I’ve read and partake in blog events. I want you all to remember who I am, gain personal reading or gift ideas, and look forward to my posts. I hope I can achieve that goal!

It’s good to be back. I feel like I’m returning home after a long vacation. It’s similar but somehow different. As if my time away has given me a new view on everything. Here is to the new year, may it bring good luck for us all and a lot of fresh new posts at Soon Remembered Tales!