Thursday, January 31, 2013

Booking Through Thursdays - January 31st

Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks questions are: 
Do you lend your books? Are any out on loan right now? Do you have any that have been loaned to you? Do you put a time limit on these? Do you think people should make an effort to read the loaned book quickly?

My Answer:
I try not to lend books out to people all due to one experience. In High School I would lend out books regularly. I wanted my friends to have a chance to experience a world that I found so exciting and be a part of it with me. So often enough, I had multiple books out on loan with multiple people. I liked to share. I did the same thing with CDs and movies too. Then a series of unfortunate events happened; movies and CDs were "lost" and I never got them back. That was sad enough but still I would loan out my books. 
My favorite books in High School were The Vampire Chronicles and I adored the first two in the series. I let my friend borrow The Vampire Lestat and she kept saying she hadn't read the book yet, that she'd get around to it, and I kept getting more impatient because I wanted to reread it again. Still, I let her have the book. Finally, months later, she returned the book to me.
"I couldn't find it and when I did it had gotten stuck under my bed," she said as she handed me the paperback. The front and back covers were nearly torn off, the first 20 pages were wrinkled and bent, and it looked like it may have sat in water for some time. I was heartbroken. This was my only copy of the book and my friend acted as if the condition it was in didn't even exist! Like it never happened! I take such good care of my books that I get upset when I manage to bend a page by accident yet I was handled back this destroyed material. It was then that I stopped giving books out on loan. I haven't done it again. Instead, I tell people to go buy them or visit the library. My books are too precious to me to allow the risk of someone destroying them in that way.

52 Lists - Week 4

I have heard whispers of the 52 Lists project from various bloggers and my curiosity got the best of me. Off I went to discover the 52 Lists by Moorea Seal which is a really fun and fantastic concept. A list for each week of the year and for this list maker, I fell in love with the idea instantly. 

At the time I was a few weeks behind and therefore have multiple lists to share with you today. I hope you enjoy and if you're interested, visit Morea Seal's 52 Lists page so you can partake in this as well!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Warm Bodies

Zombies have always been there but I've rarely taken notice of them. Aside from Billy in Hocus Pocus, as a child I didn't have much interest in stories about zombies. I was more interested in witches and vampires and zombies were kind of gross. The other two? They had some glamour. Zombies? They were rotting bodies and they ate brains. So they fell under my radar until the past year where I began to jump into the cultural obsession of zombies. The Walking Dead I watch with rapt attention, Left 4 Dead is the first video game I've ever played (aside from The Lion King on SEGA back when I was about 8), and bit by bit, I became familiar with the classic zombie movies (although I'm sure there are still many for me to see). 

When the trailer for Warm Bodies began to circulate it grabbed my attention. I'm certainly not one for comedies but I found the trailer to be amusing and, well, if something immediately grabs my attention like that then I think "it must be worth noting." Then, to my surprise, I discovered it was based on a book. I poked around the description on Goodreads and finally took the plunge, getting the book for my Kindle and settling down for a read.

I wasn't sure how I'd respond to the book -- this being my first zombie story I've ever read -- and I have to say that my opinion may be either really insightful for other people who are just getting into zombies or really off for those who have had a long standing love affair with the undead. But here it goes:

I really enjoyed the book and I flew through it. It was a quick, easy, enjoyable read that sucked me out of the stressors of life as books are (in my opinion) meant to do.

We are introduced to R, a zombie who cannot even remember his name although that he assumes it started with an R, that's what he goes by anyway. The first part of the book is wonderfully written. The day to day meanderings of a zombie are given in good detail but not to the point of it becoming boredom. Are these zombies much like others? I'm not entirely sure. If I were to say there was any issue with this book it would be that at the very beginning R's thoughts were a little too well created and intelligent. Maybe this is the slight failure of this book being from R's point of view as I do not know how the book would have been half as good if they followed the mental capacity of a zombie as it progressed to becoming more "human" without having lost the detail that's in the first part... and vice versa. If it was from another character's point of view I feel a lot of the details in R's mind would have been lost.

If you're one for easy humor and you find it simple to laugh over literature, you may find many moments in this book to be amusing. I, for one, am very hard to get to laugh while reading a book. It means nothing towards the author! The book may be hilarious! And I'll note, yes, this is funny, but that's as far as the thought goes. It is so rare for me to literally laugh out loud while reading and there were points where I thought, "Wow this is funny" so I suspect people who find laughter more easily would be amused by parts in this novel.

This book is, in fact, a love story but it's not Twilight as some people may think. It takes an awfully long time before R even meets the love interest -- Julie -- as he ends up eating her boyfriend's brain and reliving his memories.

An issue I had with this portion of the book was how easily R was forgiven for killing Julie's boyfriend. He is repeatedly told it was, more or less, okay and I feel that reaction is a bit fake. There is not struggle of emotions -- it's just cool, okay, no problem and I feel that people aren't good enough to simply shrug off a death like that. The reasoning behind it is that it was within R's nature to kill the man, and many others, because the plague that has made people into zombies made them desire human flesh and brains. And yet I feel that point would have been better accepted and the emotion more believable if Julie seemed to struggle with sadness and mourning and possibly some hatred before getting to the the point of "It wasn't you who killed him, it was the disease."

There is a lot of political and worldly drama that occurs in the later half of the book which was quite interesting but I wish that the author had given more detail on it all. Then again, seeing that the book was from R's POV it makes it hard for him to have insight on how humans have been living since he isn't particularly human himself.

So all in all, the biggest issue I've found with the book is that with it being from R's POV you miss out on some detail that could have been provided and yet, had the book been from someone else's POV (say, Julie) you would have missed out on the fantastic detail of life as a zombie.

Apparently there is a second Warm Bodies that is being written. I would take a look at it but make no promises that I would read it. My interest would definitely spike if the POV was from another character's and if there is more of an explanation for why certain events take place, the history of the zombies taking over is explained, and more insight on how humans have been managing is given.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - January 29th

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!
"My last year there we had some Classes together, and after the first day of the first Class, she waited for me and we had a short conversation. She asked why I stared at her and I told her what I had been waiting to tell her since the first time I saw her, which was that she was the most beautiful Girl I had ever seen."
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Musing Mondays - January 28th

Hosted by Should Be Reading, Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits. 
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s). 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
My Answer:
Right now I am reading A Million Little Pieces by James Frey and I'm not very far into the book at all, which is a shame. I am enjoying it thus far but I must say that I started the book off in a strange situation. Typically, I read books in the morning and afternoons on my bus to and from work. I'll read for a handful of minutes or pages and then put it away to either sleep or just stare at the window (I get motion sickness after awhile). The morning I began reading this book was freezing and I had waited 15 minutes in the cold before finally getting to board my bus. I sat down, nestled against the window (and heater) and took the book out. I literally had just opened the book and was reading the quote before the first chapter when a man sat down next to me and, quite awkwardly, began staring at me. After a few moments he spoke, "You know, that's fake, right?" I looked at him and didn't really react, just stared, because it was 6:30 in the morning, freezing, and I was still waking up. "Excuse me?" "The book is fake. The author faked it." I continued staring at him for a moment, completely perplexed by why this man wanted to inform me of this just as I was starting a book and at 6:30 in the morning. "Oh. Okay. Thanks... I'll keep that in mind," was my reply before I put my headphones on and began listening to music and reading. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Exhaustion: A Friend and Foe

I believe that there are three forms of exhaustion:

  1. Physical exhaustion: When you haven't been sleeping well or ran a marathon and your body is crying, begging, to just shut down and sleep for awhile. 
  2. Mental exhaustion: When your brain hasn't been able to shut off because you're just so busy. Work is busy, then you have 92352084 things to do when you're not at work; you get your sleep at night but that still isn't enough. This is where my slight introverted personality comes into play: I may have been around friends, family, co-workers too much and I just need to recharge alone.
  3. Emotional exhaustion: Similar to mental exhaustion but slightly different in that you're left feeling, well, exhausted. But emotionally so. You could also call it being emotionally raw. Too much has happened, there's too much stress or sadness on your mind, and you are either a crying mess or a stoic person with no feelings because it's just too much and, as I say, you need a vacation from life to get away from all the upsetting, stressful things you've dealt with.
I know all three exhaustions quite well. Sometimes one form leads to another, sometimes one form will save me from another, but I know them and know them well -- especially since the end of November. 

For the past month and a half I've been dealing with all three forms of that exhaustion. I don't like to be so worn out, it leaves me behaving like an old lady because all I want is to be in bed and asleep, but it's also brought on something rather good.

During the past couple of weekends I have done everything in my power to do... nothing. Just to sleep when I want to, not go out and socialize, and simply try to reboot. 

It's been working: I feel every week like I'm more normal and "human" -- whatever that means. And with the slow return of my physical energy, my mental and emotional exhaustion has become easier to deal with.

Through these few weekends I've also had the pleasure of realizing what it is that really helps me to get over stressful situations and weeks of exhaustion: books. 

Most of my weekends I've spent in my pajamas, happy as a clam with messy hair or having it in a hap-hazardous braid, I get up early enough and make coffee which I enjoy during those quiet morning hours. I get to watch the light grow in my room, the white glow that only morning provides, all while I feast on a warm cup of chocolate or vanilla flavored brew.

The rest of my days have been spent in bed, nestled amongst my pillows and blankets with a book nearby. It could be seen as sad, lonely, or maybe depressed or introverted, but I realized that I loved and missed this.

In High School I used to spend most of my free time reading or dancing. I watched a decent amount of TV but never as much as my peers and my parents generally didn't let me go out -- I wasn't hanging out at the mall and I didn't go to the movies very often -- and without internet until I was sixteen (and even after, it was monitored). I had a lot of free time on my hands. No cell phone, not much computer usage, and no license -- I was stuck at home in a country town. 

At times it bothered me; why couldn't I be like other teenagers? But wasn't that the same question most teens were asking no matter their "clique" structure at school or where they lived? Teens are forever cursed to wish for something better and not pay much attention to the good which is right in front of them. 

Yet I could often times forget my yearning to be like others when I'd escape in books. I no longer was trapped in my tiny town in the country of New York. I was flying to Neverland, creeping on the streets of New Orleans, or mailing traveling pants to friends. I escaped and explored and learned so much through the books I devoured, one after another, day after day.

I've come to appreciate and become familiar again with what is calming with one or all of these things:

  • Chocolates with tea or coffee
  • Warm blankets
  • Fresh air
  • Fresh flowers in the dead of winter
  • Soft music ( how I love you!)
  • A cat or small dog on your lap
  • Books, all of the books, while curled up in bed

Maybe a little bit of exhaustion, no matter the type, is what is needed in life if only to force yourself to find ways to calm down. For me, I've rediscovered things that made my life feel perfect when I was a kid. I remembered the joy such acts gave me ten years ago and I am feeling a bit more relaxed now that I can return to those moments of peace.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

This book has been suggested reading to me for ages. The book covers were flashy and interesting if not typically YA and they sold well at the bookstore back in the day that I worked there. Praise, utter praise by nearly all for this book and it made me think that, yes, I would have to read this book at some point in time.

Now let me begin this with a little history of myself and author Cassandra Clare. Back when I was a mere High School student and the Lord of the Rings were just being released into theatres I was happily in love with some of her early work, namely The Very Secret Diaries of all of my beloved LotR characters. I loved the parody of the books and found her writing to be pretty hilarious so I went into these books not only with the praise of my reader friends on my mind but also with the expectation to find as much entertainment as I had ten years ago in High School.

No better time to read it than before the movie adaptation of it comes out, right? So I picked up the book and sat down to read it, prepared for a really awesome storyline as so many people I know had mentioned there will be and I was.... extremely disappointed. 

The set up was decent enough: a girl and her best friend who is obviously head over heels in love with her go out for a night on the town in NYC and she sees something she isn't meant to see. Great. Excellent. You have my full attention. But, unfortunately, things begin to deteriorate from that point on.

The love interest, Jace, is extremely obnoxious, rude and disrespectful. I could not stand him through each page that he was on in this book and simply wanted him to go away. He was one of those characters that made my blood boil. But the other characters weren't all that interesting either. You didn't really get to learn anything about them unless other characters were pointing out the details. Nothing was shown, everything was told. I don't want that, I want character development and to see how characters are and figure out their mannerisms on my own. I don't want it told to me. What I could tell is that Clary is judgmental and often times fickle. Clary and Jace are constantly at odds with each other and their "intense" make out scene seems completely out of the blue and to have a complete lack of any real passion. The other characters, no matter their level of "importance" are only offered a little bit of attention here and there and certainly not enough to develop any true character-traits. All in all, each character in the book heavily reminded me of Harry Potter. Someone who can be trusted is, gasp, a werewolf! One of the kids is, gasp, tied to the bad guy! Mundanes -- those silly humans who know not of power and the creatures of the world -- are looked down upon like Muggles.

I understand getting ideas from other works. Sometimes a book will inspire you and just be the key to opening up your own imagination. I love that people do fan fiction and can gain creativity through reading and studying other pieces of literature. However there is a point where you can take that inspiration and move forward as a writer and a point where you're obviously copying over someone else and it's best to stick to writing your fan fictions on tumblr or what have you.

What possibly angered me the most was the horrible editing job this book had. Someone needed to proofread this book, edit this book, and, you know, generally just read this book over maybe even ONCE before publication. There are so many spelling and grammar mistakes in the book that I eventually just let my eyes pass over the mistakes because there was no point in angering myself further. The characters are all over the place with misspelling of names, different articles of clothing, and people being in one place but suddenly being somewhere else. Characters were repeating themselves and giving out information that had already been covered before. The Shadowhunters are apparently extremely smart and live on earth, in New York City no less, but they are completely clueless when it comes to regular Muggle Mundane entertainment from classic tv shows to music. And yet Isabelle is on top of fashion and apparently must shop somewhere so they must have some dealings with the Mundane world.

I couldn't wait to be finished with this book. I had plenty of other books worth reading over this but I was determined to finish it so that at least then I could give a better opinionated review. I will likely see the film when it comes out because I am still interested in it and how they handle the storyline but I highly doubt I'll ever pick up the other books. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Her Fearful Symmetry

I had mixed feelings about The Time Traveler's Wife when I read it a few years ago but my opinion wasn't negative enough to keep me from being interested in Niffenegger's new (at the time that I bought this...) book, Her Fearful Symmetry. It took me awhile to snag a copy and when I did it took me even longer to get around to reading it. I tried to pick it up once but became distracted by another book. This past winter I picked it up once more but couldn't get past the first 100 pages. It wasn't so much that it was badly written or anything like that but it was too much detail, too much set up. Who were all of these characters? Well, that was certainly explained. What do they have to do with one another? I was not entirely sure. Where is this plot headed? Your guess was as good as mine. After the third try to read through this I finally got into the swing of things and began to read it at a faster pace over a weekend, completing it before bedtime that Sunday.

Elspeth Noblin has died and left her flat to her twin nieces Julia and Valentina. There is this entire mysterious "plot" involving their mother and aunt but honestly, it doesn't really matter and is certainly built up more than needed. The twin girls are extremely dependent upon one another and rather immature in their own ways. Julia is headstrong and controlling while Valentina is quiet and a push over. They aren't very interesting at first and completely oblivious that their aunt is haunting the flat they now live in. Again, nothing much happens.

Once Elspeth's former lover is more regularly brought into the picture, once Valentina becomes more honest about controlling her own destiny, once Julia's own control begins to crack, and once the aunt becomes a stronger ghost the story starts to get interesting. But then what I gobbled up shifted; I stopped caring about the three women together in the flat. I started to care, instead, of the side characters. The people who ran the cemetery which the apartment building rested beside were extremely interesting as was Martin, the girl's neighbor. Valentina breaking out of her shell and starting to date Robert was exciting and hopeful even if there was a (gasp) age difference I really liked the couple. I was proud of Valentina to be stepping away from her sister and trying to find her way. She was hopeful and so was I.

Then everything changed. (By the way, you're entering a land of spoilers now)

It's like midway through the book the author decided to go down this dark creeping path because she was bored with the original plan she had, whatever that was. Suddenly Valentina was depressed and suicidal. Where that came from, I'm not sure. She seemed awfully happy to be breaking away but now she's thinking she'll just kill herself and find a way to resurrect herself in order to really break away from her sister. Really? That's either a very clear display of her immaturity or just a plot device for the author to get from point A to B with little cover up. 

The Aunt seems to care deeply for her nieces but goes right along with the idea of pulling Valentina's soul from her body and putting it back in after Robert steals Valentina's now presumably dead body. It's just no big deal that she's essentially killing her niece. The other characters in the book, those side characters I mentioned, are bopping along doing their own thing and I kept thinking, "These characters are so interesting and I love reading about them but why are they here?" Well, it looks like they two were only sticking around to give some aid to the plot and for not much more. 

By the end of the book you find out what the Big Secret between the twins' mother and aunt is and it's just... a let down. I was expecting some huge deal but by that point I had more or less forgotten about the Big Secret and when it was revealed it wasn't all that much of a big deal anyway. Again, I felt like it was only there to help support the plot and granted, many events in a story are there for plot support but usually they are read more fluidly and covered more artfully. You, as the reader, get the sensation that those subplots are meant to be there and they have great meaning while with this book it felt more like it was just pinned to the side as an after thought of ways to make the plot come together.

By the end of the book Valentina is dead, the aunt has stolen her body (despite how much she "cared" for the girls), and Julia is right as rain and dating the neighbor's son. Oh, okay. The only thing that felt genuine was Julia's reaction to Valentina's death and then we barrel into the future where Valentina is trapped, as a ghost, in the apartment. I know not every book necessarily ends in rainbows and sunshine (hello, Game of Thrones) but even for those books there is a sense of completion of settlement with how it ended and that all is well with the world because you finished that book and it ended with sadness or joy but you're okay with that. With this book I only felt like I had been gipped. I spent an entire weekend reading this book. An entire weekend that I could have been reading one of the many other books I have laying around on my shelf that have yet to be read but I spent that weekend reading this. I was disappointed and angry and so torn over what rating to give the book on Goodreads. I was praising the book when I still had 100 pages to go, I was excited for what would happen in the future and eager to find out and then I was let down. I was taunted and sat there feeling so, so betrayed. 

Oh well, this book is going into my "sell or give away" pile for whenever I get up to PA and to my local used bookstore.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - January 15th

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!
My copy, sitting at my work desk.
"Alice had assumed they would deal with her first, but apart from confirming that it was she who'd found the skeletons and saying they'd need to interview her in due course, the police had left her alone. No one else had come near."
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse

Monday, January 14, 2013

Musing Mondays - January 14th

Hosted by Should Be Reading, Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits. 
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s). 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
My Answer:
Recently I purchased Warm Bodies as I've been pretty interested in the trailer for the movie and felt it would be good for me to read the book prior to the film coming out. I wasn't sure how I'd feel going into the book but I'm pleased to say I enjoyed it and it was a good way to escape from the stressors of life. A review will be up just after the movie comes out February 1st!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Booking Through Thursday - January 10th

Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks questions are: 
Do you give books as gifts?

My Answer:
I have given books as gift but it always depends on the person and the situation. My cousin's children I always try to give books to. I have this silly idea that they will come to know me as that "aunt" who knows a lot about books and adventures, fairy tales and mysteries. I've given books to a few friends but it's always within their interests or part of an inside joke. The same goes for my parents. Otherwise, unless I know you very well, I try to stay away from giving out books. I find books to be somewhat personal and I know that with my changing interests that I, for one, would rather get a book store gift card than a book itself. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays - January 8th

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente

Monday, January 7, 2013

Musing Mondays - January 7th

Hosted by Should Be Reading, Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits. 
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s). 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
My Answer:
One of my most favored reading habits -- which I only do on occasion -- is to curl up in my bed (or reading chair) with a cup of tea and box of chocolates. I read and snack and while this doesn't happen often, I love when I do give myself the allowance to indulge. My favorite snack to have are chocolate turtles from Rainbow's End, a candy shop in Jim Thorpe, PA. Otherwise I'll stick to any chocolates I happen to have lying around the house. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country

Warning: language.

Let's get to the point: I really disliked this book. I was all for giving it a go when I picked it up at my bookstore and very excited to read it. My reasons for buying and reading it are as follows:

1) I was going through Merlin withdrawals which translate to withdrawal of Katie McGrath as Morgana because, really, Merlin was horribly written.
I mean, look at Katie McGrath, she is a Queen in my book.

2) The book's cover has John William Waterhouse's Ophelia on it. Basically, if you put Waterhouse paintings on a book I will likely highly consider buying it.

Absolutely beautiful.
Sometimes I just don't like a book and I haven't a particularly good reason to dislike it. Sometimes, I really don't feel like writing a review that makes much sense. Sometimes, I end up feeling more sarcastic, spiteful, and bothered when writing a review than I should be and I resort to photos and gifs to get my point across because English is Hard at that point because my Feelings are too much.

Okay, okay, so I can't seem to get myself completely away from giving some type of a wordy review of a book so bear with me. This book had promise, this book was me giving the character Guenevere a chance to grow on me, and this book failed me and the character.

It started off well enough, creative but a little slow, and by the time I got to the arrival of the actual plot I wished I could go back to the point where it was slow yet still well thought out. This book went from some type of historical take on things to a well written story of a whiny, demanding and certainly annoying teenage girl. That's part of the grub: Guenevere, no matter her age, is annoying like a teenage girl.

You go to a diner, maybe the mall, that annoying teenage girl that sits near you who you can hear loudly talking about her boyfriend and what she wants? That's Guenevere. Either she is over thinking everything, swooning with The Sight, or sighing over her loves and it drove my insane.

Oh, Arthur!
Oh, Guenevere!
Oh, Lancelot!
(click the link, do it, do it)

See, there was an issue with the tv show Merlin that the writers must have adopted from this book: a lack of back story. Much like in the tv show one moment Morgan (or Morgana on the show) is pretty much your best friend and a really nice lady, the next moment she's evil. In the show that consisted of Morgana stabbing some dudes and pushing them off the castle walls but in this book it consisted of Morgan smirking devilishly while lounging naked in the bed of her brother after they had some wild sex. I mean, two different situations but in the end it comes to the same point: there was a big character change with little back story.

I get it, I get it, neither the show or book are from this character's point of view so obviously some things will be beyond the viewer or reading. However, that's the magic of story telling. In this book there were many brief moments where the novel would focus on the point of view from other characters so that you could get inside their head a little bit to understand what their motives were but this was never once done with Morgan. Guenevere is moaning and sad of the horrors Morgan must have suffered but she's always feeling overly emotional about other characters. I think much of this is to blame (and this is just a guess) that the author assumed those who have read the story know that Morgan is out to get Arthur so there isn't an explanation needed.

Wrong. Many different versions of the Arthurian tale set up different reasons for this revenge and leaving out the back story is just poor story telling on the writer's part.

Also? The story, in my mind, was already told. Well of course it was since it's based on a legend but I mean the general plot points of this book are incredibly similar to The Mists of Avalon. Guenevere received teaching at Avalon, she has slight powers and the likes, she falls into a swoon-like fog as she sees the future and all the while I am going, "BUT THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED TO MORGAINE FROM MISTS!" and my frustration is so strong that I feel quite like I am going to let out a screech akin to a velociraptor.

But this book also made me learn a little about myself. I always found Arthur to be a little dimwitted but  typically disliked Guenevere because she cheated on Arthur. With this book I realized that, depending on the version of the tale, I was sort of slut shaming Guenevere. Arthur isn't perfect and he essentially does sleep with his sister; again, depending on the story it could be willing or it could be forced through magic. But it was Guenevere that got all the shame and the blame (from me and others) while Arthur doesn't have much room to talk either -- I mean, he called for all the newborn baby boys to be KILLED because he didn't want Mordred to be alive! Somehow, killing an entire country's worth of newborn baby boys almost kind of seems worse than cheating on your husband with a hot knight. Just sayin'.

Yet... I still dislike her character. Maybe it's because she doesn't seem capable of making up her mind. She wants Lancelot (Oh, Lancelot!) and she wants Arthur (Oh, Arthur!) and she whines and has all of these feels which she does not know what to do with and I just don't care.

There are more books in this series and I wanted to see more of Morgan and Mordred (two favorite characters!) but even that couldn't get me interested. I don't want to know and I don't intend to read the rest of the books. This book will be sent back to Pennsylvania (where bad books go) until I can relinquish the book back into the wild (also known as a used bookstore). 

When I get to a point in a book where I am constantly muttering to myself, "I don't care," I know the book is steadily losing more and more points from me. And that was that. I lost interest, my chance to like Guenevere was kind of crushed (sorry, Guenevere fans!), and I am left with this extremely sarcastic review because I just didn't care in the end. 

Over and out. Tune in next week for actual reviews with less snark and more substance. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Booking Through Thursday - January 3rd

Brought to you by the site Booking Through Thursday, each Thursday readers are asked a question (mainly book related) and answers are shared.

This weeks questions are: 
Any reading resolutions for the new year? Reading more? (Reading less?) Reading better books? Bigger books? More series? More relaxing books? And hey, feel free to talk about any other resolutions you might have, too … or why you choose NOT to have any.

My Answer:
I refuse to call it a resolution. The term "resolution" puts too much stress on me and makes me usually falter and fail at whatever I set for myself. And yet, I will do goals by weeks, months, days, years -- whichever. The word "goals" doesn't scare me off quite as much. And with that I do have a reading goal: I want to read 100 books. I've done it before and last year I only read 50 something books but this is a little different. I want to read fifty adult books and fifty children's books. I miss doing reviews of picture books from the kid's section of bookstores. I enjoyed sitting there reading the 30 or so pages full of pictures. Reviews of kids books are a little tough because they're so short, but they're still fun and I used to take pleasure in being knowledgeable of children's books. So that's that. Fifty adult and fifty children's books to be read before the end of the year. 
Besides that goal I hope to save up money this year for the multiple trips I'll be taking and to continue to better my health and fitness. We'll see if that happens though! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Goddess Test

When I was an upperclassmen in High School and looking for colleges I was fascinated by the many schools I could ultimately choose from to apply to. I wanted to go to school for one of two things, art or English, and I didn't decide for sure until I was 17 -- my senior year. Still, prior to that I went on the numerous college visits that were common for kids of my age and fell in love with nearly every school I visited. It was chilly and cold when I went to visit Sarah Lawrence College and in the morning hours as I meandered and prepared to meet up with the prospective student event I met with a girl. She was my age and interested in a lot of the same things as myself. My parents talked to her father and she and I hung around one another. I remember being fascinated that we both shared the like of reading and I bet she doesn't even have the faintest memory of me. Ultimately, once the prospective student events began we separated and I didn't see her again. I believe there were a few emails exchanged and we talked on Livejournal once or twice but she stuck in my mind, grouped with my experience at Sarah Lawrence College, and I occasionally would think of her through out the years and her writing.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I saw her name printed on YA books at the Barnes and Noble I frequent. It's been nearly 10 years since I saw her on that college campus when I had all the dreams for the future and now, well, here we are. So now I face a different sort of review: how to write a review of a book by someone you've met and know (even if it was for a brief amount of time) and not have my personal opinion get in the way.

I picked up The Goddess Test and placed it on my nightstand, ready for consumption. It didn't take me long to read and once I was done I sat on it for a bit (not literally) before writing this review. I looked over the reviews of some other readers, positive and negative, and tried to put my thoughts on paper.

I enjoy any books that incorporate mythology with a modern day setting or "normal" people. Percy Jackson, Deathless -- these are two books (series) that I really adore which use mythology and use it well. For The Goddess Test I am not entirely sure if it is done well in the broad sense of the word but it's done well for those who adore supernatural romance in YA genre.

We have the token good girl, Kate, who is new to a school, moving to a town in Michigan with her dying mother, who isn't that pretty but pretty enough and has never really been in relationships or had many friends. We've seen this before. What breaks her from the mold of most YA books (well, most, this isn't unheard of) is that Kate is essentially the caregiver of her mother who is dying from cancer. I appreciated this in the book -- death and sickness can be handled poorly in literature, especially in YA books, but this was well written and had some honest pain filtered through Kate's actions and thoughts. Out of the entire story, Kate's overwhelming stress over her mother's health seemed to be the most lifelike emotions in the book.

Quite quickly Kate gets pulled into this mysterious world where girls are being brought back from the dead and she is making promises with a man who thinks himself a god. This was where I began to have some problems with the storyline and Kate's character. While part of the time she was going, "No, there aren't gods and this isn't real" she was still following through with everything expected of her and didn't seem to truly be having issues not believing things were real. She sort of folded and just went into the world that was "fake" to her with little fight. I feel that if a guy made someone come back to life in front of me I would have had a stronger reaction. I feel that if I was brought into a house and demanded to stay there to pass "tests" and didn't believe in anything that was going on, I wouldn't have gone from day to day so smoothly.

Kate seems to be border lining feminist but falling short. She doesn't want to wear dresses! She is more modern than that! But she is quick to judge her apparent best friend with her sexual activity. Social etiquette and expectations aside, let's focus on the gods aspect of the story.

Kate is surrounded by a host of Greek gods and I appreciate the idea that they continue to live, although they are not still worshiped, however they can slip into nothing once their purpose has disappeared. I enjoyed that Kate had to pass a list of tests in order to become a goddess herself and through out the book you are given few clues about what the tests may be. Every time there was something going on I was thinking, "Could this be a test? Is this possible?"

When it's revealed that (SPOILER) the tests are actually the Seven Deadly Sins I was a little put off... because the Greek mythology is all over those sins and have managed to attack those sins with a need like an alcoholic to liquor. They love their incest and greed and lust and all of that fun stuff. So to have something that is ultimately Christian arrive in a book that is Greek mythology based was... interesting. I'm not entirely sure what other type of tests she could have performed but the tie between two religions seemed a little strange.

Still, despite my issues with The Goddess Test when it ended I was happy for Kate and glad to see what happened with each character had indeed happened. Was I impressed enough to go for the next book in the series? I have to apologize, Aimee Carter, and say that I am not. But, that means little in the grand scheme of things. As I said: this is a good book for those who love YA supernatural romance stories and while I dive into such subjects every couple of books it isn't a genre that I immediately rush to. The book was entertaining and I feel that it therefore served its purpose. Books are meant for entertainment, aren't they? And this book provided me with such while I was very overwhelmed and stressed with other things going on. For that, I am grateful, and I hope to bring this book to my favorite used bookstore so that they may sell it to someone who will appreciate it and love it much more than I am capable of doing.